Diana Greene’s tenure as superintendent of Duval County Public Schools will end July 24.
Greene signed a separation and retirement agreement Tuesday morning. The nine-page document indicates her last day at work will be June 2. She will be on leave from June 3 until July 24.
She will receive a one-time settlement of $114,942.53, the equivalent of 20 weeks’ pay.
The superintendent’s future was discussed during an emergency School Board meeting Tuesday after the school day had begun and during a period when students were testing. She has been superintendent since 2018.
The board voted 4-3 to accept Greene’s resignation. Lori Hershey, Kelly Coker, Cynthia Pearson and April Carney all voted to accept. Warren Jones, Charlotte Joyce and Darryl Willie did not.
Some on the board criticized Greene’s handling of a burgeoning scandal at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, where multiple teachers have been removed from classrooms due to allegations of teacher misconduct.
One teacher, Jeffrey Clayton, faces four charges, including two counts of offenses against students by authority figures, indecent lewd or lascivious touching of certain minors and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
Clayton has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He retired after his arrest in March.
Coker said the district’s handling of the Douglas Anderson situation was a factor in Greene’s retirement, three years ahead of her contracted schedule. Coker and Hershey said Green notified them in separate meetings last month that she planned to retire.
Coker rejected suggestions that Gov. Ron DeSantis influenced the decision, despite his criticism of Greene on several occasions.
“I can tell you the governor’s office isn’t a part of my decision,” Coker said during a news conference. “I serve the children of Duval County. And I’m just doing what I believe is good and right in my heart for the children of Duval County to refocus, renew our energy on student achievement and the safety and well-being of our students.”
Jones and Willie saluted Greene as a trailblazing superintendent whose effort to pass a half-cent sales tax in 2020 to fund capital improvements at schools, as well as working to pass a property tax increase last year to raise veteran teacher pay, will benefit the district for decades.
Still, the Douglas Anderson situation has roiled the district for weeks, with parents and students alleging that the district routinely ignores improper behavior by teachers.
Late last month, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. chastised Greene over the district’s failure to notify the state of 50 misconduct cases within the required 30 days.
Greene responded that she was “surprised and angered” to learn about the delinquent files. The district promptly reassigned its supervisor of professional practice during an investigation.
During a meeting April 26, Coker said the board took “appropriate and necessary action” to determine the system failures that allowed Clayton to remain in classrooms despite a personnel file that includes multiple allegations over 17 years.
The board voted that day to hire a law firm out of Fort Lauderdale to investigate the district’s handling of misconduct complaints — and to defend the district against potential lawsuits arising out of the scandal.
Coker said the Douglas Anderson controversy was only one of Greene’s considerations in retiring.
“Quite honestly, she has done good work,” Coker said. “She wanted to finish through commencement. She wanted to see these students walk across the stage. I certainly admire and respect that. My context was the notion was she was ready to retire. (Douglas Anderson) is part of the equation, but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle.”
Multiple people spoke in support of Greene at the meeting April 26. Among them was former Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser, whose daughter attended Douglas Anderson two decades ago.
“As you do due diligence on the severity of previous allegations, of which I know nothing, please do not get ahead of yourself and terminate a respected leader,” Glasser said at that time.
More people spoke Tuesday. Kathleen Murray was the last. She is executive director of Duval County Citizens Defending Freedom — the local chapter of an organization that believes the “corrosive effect of political correctness” has infected the United States.
Murray implored the board to have women from the Duval County School Police interview potential victims at Douglas Anderson. She cited her experience as a naval officer for advocating for Greene’s removal.
“Leadership is all about accountability,” Murray said. “And, despite the friendships you may have with the superintendent who is beloved by many people here, we must hold our leaders accountable.”
The action Tuesday followed several days of fitful scheduling. The School Board tentatively scheduled a meeting for Friday but canceled it less than two hours before it began because of what it called “legal issues.”
Over the weekend, Greene’s attorneys discussed a retirement agreement with the Office of General Counsel. Those discussions continued into Monday. Greene signed the document Tuesday morning.
The meeting that afternoon was not a part of the regularly scheduled board meeting, which was slated for 6 p.m. A public notice of the later meeting was posted on the district’s website after the close of business Monday, but the emergency meeting was not.
According to Chapter 2.26 of the board’s rules, an emergency meeting can be called with less than 48 hours’ notice “when the Chairperson or Board members determine that an issue is an emergency or urgent public necessity as defined by law as an immediate danger to public health, safety, or welfare.”
The board’s rules indicate it must be posted at least two hours prior to the beginning of the meeting, which it was.
Ray Poole, the district’s chief legal counsel, told the board that Tuesday afternoon’s meeting qualified as an emergency because “the leadership of the school district directly impacts the operations of the school district, which in turn affects the welfare of children in Duval County.”