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‘It’s disturbing;’ St. Johns County school district responds to fake letter shared with parents

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla — A fake letter claiming budget cuts and staffing shortages for the St. Johns County school district was shared to Facebook groups full of parents last night.

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The person who wrote it claimed to be the superintendent, so Action News Jax took it straight to district leaders, who told us they weren’t even aware of it until our message.

“It’s disturbing that someone signs your name and a board member’s name to a communication you never drafted,” says Tim Forson, superintendent of St. Johns County schools.

Angelica Worsham, a mom of two kids in the school district, saw the letter pop up in at least three different Facebook groups. Before speaking with Action News Jax, Worsham thought it was real.

“If there is any truth in that letter, [the school district] should point that out,” Worsham says.

The letter claims the district is scaling its school nurses to one for each school next year, adding it would affect K-8 schools, all high schools and elementary schools. The letter says the cuts are being made because of budget cuts and a need for new schools.

Superintendent Forson, speaking with Action News Jax’s Finn Carlin over the phone, says he never wrote the letter, but some of it is true.

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Finn Carlin: “The letter reads the school district is cutting back to one nurse per school next year, is that true?”

Superintendent Forson: “We will be moving back to one nurse per school, it’s for next year.”

But the superintendent tells Action News Jax its cutting the number of nurses in schools because the district’s about to lose COVID-era funding for support staff, including nurses, not because of budget cuts.

The district says it doesn’t fund school nurse positions and sometimes has to contract nurses outside of the district because it can’t find enough of them.

The letter also claims non-medical staff would be trained to provide care in their place, which Forson says isn’t true.

“The idea of replacing the responsibility of a licensed nurse with [someone not licensed] to do those steps is not what we’re talking about,” says Forson.

Apart from nurses, the letter points out a need for more schools, which the district says does exist. It’s currently working to build five new K-8 schools through 2026, two of which are set to go online this fall. Part of the reason for putting up new schools is to relieve the ones it already has, with at least 12 being over capacity.

Some parents say it’s a priority.

“We need more schools. We have more kids and we need more schools,” Worsham says, “we need to prioritize the education part and take care of the other stuff later.”

The school district says it’s working to find the person responsible for the fake letter and stop the spread of more fake messages.

“I’m frustrated by someone taking the liberty to do something of that nature,” says Forson, “I have every intention of doing whatever I can to get to the bottom of it.”

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