Challenger Tanya Hardaker and incumbent Charlotte Joyce are facing off to represent District 6 on the Duval County School Board. Because there are only two candidates, the August primary will determine the outcome.
District 6 covers most of southwest Duval County, including Argyle Forest, Avondale and Riverside. It’s a nonpartisan race, which means all District 6 voters will be able to cast a ballot, regardless of party affiliation.
Meet the candidates
Candidates are in alphabetical order. The two candidates have not appeared together at a public forum to date; these are their emailed responses to questions from Jacksonville Today. Some answers are edited or condensed for clarity.
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Candidate bio: Tanya Hardaker is a former corporate accountant, PTA leader in Duval County Public Schools and mom of seven. She’s a longtime Jacksonville resident and DCPS graduate.
On top priorities: “Our most urgent need is filling the 453 teacher and staff vacancies [as of Aug. 1] in our DCPS schools. With the first day of school looming Aug. 15, these vacancies will lead to larger class sizes, overwhelmed staff and frustrated students. We must do more to retain our veteran teachers, through competitive wage, positive work environment and rejecting the political rhetoric surrounding current education culture wars. DCPS must also continue to address the crumbling infrastructure of older school buildings, ensuring responsible spending of the half-penny sales surtax that went into effect in January 2021.”
On school safety: “As a mom of seven children, several of whom came from our foster care system, I want to feel confident when I send them to learn that they will be safe. It’s clear that there are a frightening amount of instances where that is NOT the case. Whether we need to reassess the hardening of facilities or provide for more school resource officers, I do think there are tangible solutions towards physical protection. Yet there is so much more to solving this than thicker walls or more security. … Providing more mental health resources for students, training our teachers to notice trauma, and engaging with our parents as partners are absolutely components of school safety.”
On teacher retention and recruitment: “We can talk about creative programs all day long, but the shortage of quality teachers is a systemic problem that requires serious attention, as teachers are leaving for higher paying jobs in the private sector. We can make it more alluring as a career by increasing pay/benefits and allowing them to focus on the classroom. … The community can show support by voting on the Ad Valorem Millage Rate for teacher pay, arts and sports programs. And the Duval community at large can use rhetoric that encourages our teachers, while avoiding the educational culture wars that are invading our school boards and politicizing our children.”
On Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education law, which critics call “Don’t Say Gay”: “The law is the law and school boards must uphold the law. The challenge comes from implementing the law, due to the vagueness of procedure asking school boards to redefine curriculums, monitor classrooms [and] provide direct lines of communication between aggrieved parents and school board staff. This will require additional staff hours, creates increased legal work for the county school board and staff, and spends taxpayer dollars on oversight — all of this while we are already trying to balance our long-term strategic plan, provide equity in schools, decrease bullying and mentor the next generation of leaders.”
On Florida’s new “Stop WOKE” Act, which limits how schools can teach about race and racism: “Again, the law is the law and the school board must implement the law. DCPS chooses curriculum based on the Florida Department of Education standards, so the DCPS History curriculum will follow that guideline as well. Since DCPS follows the law, this is an instance in which state legislators created a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. Education has always been nonpartisan and we can all agree that our children should not be used as political pawns. There is a danger of letting politics drive education.”
On financial transparency: “DCPS has strong financial transparency in terms of internal and external audits, along with a citizen-led Audit Advisory Committee. DCPS has an over $2 billion annual budget, along with oversight of half-penny sales tax and proposed [millage increase] referendum. … A board should be made up of a diverse group of members; the current School Board represents educators, legislators, and community activists. I want to bring my accounting and business background to that table to help Duval County Schools and taxpayers.”
Campaign cash: $30,087 reported to Duval County Supervisor of Elections
Campaign website: Tanya Hardaker for School Board District 6
Candidate bio: Incumbent Charlotte Joyce has represented District 6 on the Duval County School Board since 2018. She has previously worked as a teacher and magnet coordinator at Joseph Stilwell Military Academy of Leadership, a Duval magnet school. She’s also a longtime Jacksonville resident and DCPS graduate.
On top priorities: “Parental rights in education – Ensuring that School Board policies foster and maximize the opportunities for parents to be involved in the education of their students. Financial accountability and transparency – To ensure taxpayer trust, the School Board should be open and accountable for the use of taxpayer dollars. During my first term I fought to create an Audit Advisory Committee made up of professionals in the areas of finance, accounting, and auditing to advise the board in the oversight of a 2+ billion dollar budget. That committee was just approved and recently began meeting.”
On school safety: “[In addition to] prioritizing school hardening to keep our students safe and advocating to strengthen the student code of conduct so that our teachers can focus on teaching – I also am in favor of the establishment of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office substations in our high schools. Our sheriff, who is tasked with and leads the way in protecting the citizens of Duval County, should be a resource the Board collaborates with to protect the students of Duval County. We also rely on the wisdom of our dedicated School Resource Officers, the law enforcement agents on the front line of campus security.”
On teacher retention and recruitment: “As a former teacher, I understand the enormous burdens borne by our teachers. If re-elected, my objective will be to ensure that the culture and climate of each school are reflective of the respect and encouragement our faculty and staff deserve. … In addition, I favor a revision to the student code of conduct that would allow our teachers to focus on instruction, not discipline. I would also work to ensure that third-party vendors and contractors approved to work with our schools are providing services needed to assist teachers in their work.”
On Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education law, which critics call “Don’t Say Gay”: “This School Board and the district are obligated to provide students with a safe environment where they can learn the core competencies that will allow them to thrive as productive members of society. To perform these obligations, it is imperative that we work cooperatively and collaboratively with the parents of Duval County who, every single day, entrust us with their children. Trust is the bedrock of an effective partnership between parents, students, and schools. To me, the phrase ‘parental rights’ means a commitment from the Board and district to do all we can to foster that trust-based partnership by protecting the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the messages delivered to their children.”
On Florida’s new “Stop WOKE” Act, which limits how schools can teach about race and racism: “I have knocked on countless doors and engaged with thousands of constituents this year related to this election. What I hear more than anything from them is a plea that the district refocus its energy and attention on fundamentals. There are plenty of platforms available for everyone who wants to engage in important discourse on social issues to do so. However, for the six or seven hours a day that DCPS is entrusted with caring for Jacksonville’s kids, the primary focus should be teaching the core competencies, like reading, writing and math, so that we produce graduates who are prepared to compete, achieve and thrive as members of our society.”
On financial transparency: “In my first term, I relied on my experiences as a teacher, magnet school coordinator, and School Board member to advocate for fiscal accountability and transparency. To that end, I successfully lobbied for the creation of the Audit Advisory Committee to the Duval County School Board.”
Campaign cash: $37,341 reported to Duval County Supervisor of Elections
Candidate website: Charlotte Joyce for School Board District 6