JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Clay County School Board is calling for an investigation into Superintendent Charles Van Zant, but he says they don’t have the power to do that, and it’s time they move on from the dispute over the “Dare to Think” conference.
“Governor Scott, if he chooses to investigate me, can,” Van Zant tells WOKV exclusively.
“But the school board has zero employees that work for him that have a contracted attorney. And that’s it. None of them have any investigative powers or authority granted under Florida statutes.”
District 1 School Board Member Janice Kerekes issued a statement last week describing her concern over Van Zant’s partnership with the “Dare to Think” conference. She says it’s a “private, partisan political event and it should not be funded by taxpayer monies.”
Van Zant says that’s not true.
He calls it a “non-profit, non-partisan” conference that focuses on the idea of American Exceptionalism, something he “whole-heartedly” promotes.
“This is an education conference,” he says, referring to statistics showing that only 12 percent of U.S. students have a “clear understanding” of American history.
Van Zant says he only supports the conference in his personal capacity, and “zero” tax dollars from Clay County sponsoring the event.
School Board Chairwoman Carol Studdard said last week she’s concerned that Van Zant is apparently continuing to associate with the school district at the conference.
When asked about this, Van Zant replies: “Co-sponsorship lends itself to think of financial support, but there are several other synonyms that just simply mean, ‘I’m with you. I’m partnering with you.’”
He claims the School Board are “actively discriminating” on his personal beliefs, and he’s disappointed.
“It’s time we move on for the good of our students,” he says. “[The school board] can continue to kick and spin and be hateful, but I will not participate in that.”
Van Zant says none of the three school board members who “create such angst at our school board meetings” have brought forward one issue or policy revision that’s student focused in nature.”
He agrees that there’s a “communication gap” between him and the school board.
“But that’s two ways,” he says. “We send them information all the time. We share with them.
“I can’t always have a clairvoyance or a crystal ball to know what they’ll be happy that I’ve initiated and what they haven’t.”