At tonight’s Alachua County School Board meeting, the board voted 3-2 to appoint Shane Andrew as the interim superintendent.
Several board members indicated that they had hoped that Acting Superintendent Donna Jones would be willing to continue as the interim superintendent, but she asked that her name be withdrawn.
Member Leanetta McNealy said she preferred to bring back Dr. Owen Roberts, the former superintendent who resigned in 2016 after the Gainesville Sun ran a story about some passages in a book he had written that were lifted verbatim from other academic sources cited in the text.
Member Mildred Russell said she was disappointed that Jones had withdrawn her name. She suggested Kathy Black: “We need someone who is very calm and able to aid us… We need positive, good things for our students… I think Mrs. Black would be very good in helping us implement the things we want to do for our students, who must come first.”
Member Gunnar Paulson said, “Excellent and calming personalities – that’s A#1 what we need… [employees that I talk to] are happy right now and feel relieved, overwhelmingly… If anyone is similar to [Jones], it’s Kathy Black, and believe me, every place I go, people say the same thing, all the employees.”
Member Tina Certain said she only submitted one name: “I come with a different perspective… Mr. Shane Andrew. I think Mr. Andrew would be a good person to transition us… Mr. Andrew is as calm, cool, as the other side of the pillow, as they say in my community, cool as a cucumber… What [our former superintendent Carlee Simon] didn’t have, Mr. Andrew brings that… Mr. Andrew has worked all over this district.“
Chair Rob Hyatt said he talked to five different candidates, and three weren’t interested at this time. “When I came up with my two folks, I felt really, really good… I felt a peace about this… When you look at Mr. Andrew, what a resume… [As for] Ms. Black, who knows more? Who cares more about our ESE children and families than Ms. Black?… I want to emphasize a word, ‘interim.’… Mr. Andrew is a class act, and Ms. Black is a class act… I can support either one.”
McNealy said that Black didn’t have any administrative experience: “You cannot possibly be going there… Mr. Andrew has all types of administration, but even more, specifically, look at the long names of different schools in our district… ESE has nothing to do with principalship at the different levels that Mr. Andrew has.”
Certain made a motion to make Shane Andrew the interim superintendent, and the motion was seconded by McNealy.
Russell said she had a concern: “Mr. Andrew oversees three departments, which would then have to go through some sort of change and shift… we’re having serious transportation issues right now… that’s another transition that would have to be made… Is it a serious concern or is it something that we can handle smoothly?”
Certain said, “Mr. Andrew can build his team.”
Paulson said, “I’ve known Mr. Andrew since he was a kid. I have nothing against Mr. Andrew… Kathy Black… has been a troubleshooter… Every place I go, people [say they would be] happy if Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Black [were the interim superintendent]… 80-90% of employees [I talked to wanted] Kathy Black.”
Certain responded, “The majority of people that I talked to… agree [with] the transition to Mr. Andrew… I don’t think that Mrs. Black would be the unifying agent of this organization or this board. I disagree with that.”
The vote to appoint Andrew was 3-2, with Russell and Paulson in dissent.
Following the vote, Russell told Andrew that although the vote wasn’t unanimous as Hyatt had hoped, she was looking forward to working with him. McNealy, who attended by Zoom and was having trouble hearing, thought Russell meant that the board didn’t want to appoint Andrew. Hyatt then said he would entertain a motion to make the vote unanimous, but nobody made the motion.
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