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Duval Partners for Excellent Education Uncertain about Future with Duval Schools

6:17 PM, Jul 18, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --  The city's four failing schools are on the front burner in separate meetings both in Jacksonville and in Tampa.

Today, there were feelings of uncertainty for Duval Partners for Excellent Education.

"We didn't get the same type of respect I think that we thought we deserved," said board member Marcela Washington.

Washington said the board has put in 6 months of work, preparing for its duties of turning around Duval County's four low-performing schools.

"Then to read on the internet that oh, all of a sudden we don't want this recommendation by Duval Partners, we don't think that they are quite qualified to get this done, this is not what we want, was a slap in the face in a way," said Washington.

Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals said last week that the job may be too great for Duval Partners and he'd prefer using a Miami-based company if needed. 

Also last week, State Education Commissioner John Winn decided to recommend the school board maintain control of Duval's four struggling schools for one more year to turn things around themselves.

"It has been a tough road for all of us quite frankly," said Duval Partners board Chairman Cleve Warren.

These developments leave the Duval Partners board wondering where they stand in the futures of the four intervene schools: Andrew Jackson, Ribault, Raines and North Shore K through 8.  As Duval Partners chairman Cleve Warren understands it, members would potentially stay on as an advisory board for the schools.

"We'd really like to know what that means and make individual decisions or a corporate decision about how we move forward with that re-defined role," said Warren.

At Duval Partners' first public meeting this morning, the board voted for Warren to send a letter to the Duval school board asking them to spell out exactly what their roles would be.
Until then, Washington wonders if this is the end for Duval Partners.

"Because we're not sure of our role.  And once we get that done, maybe we can move forward.  But there's no certainty right now," she said.

The Duval Partners board is made up of all volunteers. One of the members, Hugh Greene, resigned last week because of time constraints.

Today, newly selected Executive Director Brenda Priestly-Jackson withdrew as an applicant because there would be no need for such a position on an advisory board.

"I am committed, and will always remain committed to the community and the young people in the community and it's been an interesting process," said Priestly-Jackson.

The remaining members all hope to get a clearer understanding of their roles after tomorrow's board of education meeting in Tampa as well as the next Duval County School board meeting July 21.

They'll then decide if they want to stay on, possibly resign or dismantle and start again with a different understanding of their duties.

First Coast News

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