ALACHUA COUNTY – The local branch of the NAACP, religious leaders from local black churches and concerned citizens expressed their support for Alachua County Superintendent of Schools Owen Roberts at a five-hour long meeting Tuesday night at Kirby-Smith Center in downtown Gainesville.
Despite the overwhelming support of approximately 35 speakers, the school board voted to accept the evaluation conducted earlier by board members and voted to accept Roberts’ resignation, which had been tendered earlier in the day.
Supporters became enraged by the Board's decision and threatened to take action at the ballot box. “Racism” was charged by audience members including the president of the local NAACP branch, Evelyn Foxx.
Poor teacher morale, student disciplinary issues associated with recent budget cuts and pressures associated with high-stakes standardized testing have been cited by critics, as well as charges of plagiarism in a self-published book. Supporters say Roberts was working to lower school dropout rates and reduce racial disparity.
Although Roberts was present at the meeting, when things became heated between audience and school board members, he left.
A severance package of 20 weeks pay and accrued leave will be paid to Roberts. The total severance package amounts to $133,000, according to the Assistant Superintendent of Finance, Alex Rella. The motion to accept the less-than-favorable evaluation of Roberts’ performance was made by April Griffin and seconded by Rob Hyatt and was unanimously approved.
The motion to accept Roberts’ resignation was made by Gunnar Paulson and seconded by April Griffin and received a 3-2 vote with Leanetta McNealy and Rob Hyatt dissenting.
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