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HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs City Commission has rejected a bid of no confidence for Alachua County School Superintendent Carlee Simon. On Oct. 14, High Springs Vice Mayor Linda Jones introduced the item saying, “Teachers and staff cannot voice their opinion for fear of losing their jobs. This was shown at the end of the school year when nine of 11 principals, teachers and staff were released.”

Commenting that Simon is defying the governor, the Florida Department of Education and Florida Department of Health, Jones noted, “She seems to revel in her actions by appearing on 17 TV shows, one social media video with Secretary Cardona, U.S. Department of Education, accepting $147,000 that the Florida Department of Education withheld and wrote an op-ed in the ‘Washington Post.’ All of this within a two-month timeframe.”

Jones continued by saying, “The Petition of No Confidence of Superintendent Simone has been signed by over 1,500 people, including 158 residents of High Springs and growing.”

“It is my opinion that we need to send a message from our City and perhaps other cities will follow,” said Jones.

Commissioner-elect Katherine Weitz described the environment within the school system as “toxic.” She said teachers are “terrified to speak.” She said she has emailed Simon and never received a response. She also said she has called in during School Board meetings, but has never been able to get her calls through. She described Simon as “drunk with power.”

David Lynch also addressed the Commission saying this was a strange situation for the Commission to take a position against the School Board.

Melissa Scott, self-described as a Gainesville resident who grew up in High Springs, said she has sent numerous emails to Simon and received not one response. She also remarked at how “shocked” she was to see parents escorted out of School Board meetings after expressing opposition to Simon.

While her emails go unanswered, Scott said, “She has lots of time for media coverage…she also likes to hunt down doctors who sign medical exemptions for parents.” Scott said Simon has worked with abused children and believes that parents do not have the best interest of their children at heart. Scott added that Simons seems to feel that “we as parents don’t care about our kids because we don’t want to mask.”

“I get you [Commissioners] probably don’t want to go this route, but there’s a lot of parents being ignored right now,” said Scott.

City Clerk Jenny Parham read a message from Commissioner Scott Jamison who was not in attendance at the meeting. “I apologize for not being able to attend tonight’s meeting, but my duties as Risk Manager for Alachua County Public Schools required that I be out of town Oct. 12 – 15.”

“That said I would like to make a comment on Agenda Item 4. Consider, discuss and act on the school superintendent, Carlee Simon submitted by Vice Mayor Linda Jones.

“I do not believe this is the course of action the commission should engage in. It is not our job as City Commissioners to evaluate other governmental officials.”

City Commissioner Ross Ambrose agreed. He said it would not be appropriate for a governmental board to criticize decisions of other boards.

Mayor Gloria James nodded her head in agreement. Commissioner Byran Williams had no comment on the issue when asked.

Hearing the comments from audience members, Jones made a motion to approve a petition of no confidence by the City Commission. The motion died for lack of a second.

Ambrose suggested that the City extend an invitation to the Alachua County School Board to hold a joint meeting in High Springs to help citizens get answers to their questions that they expressed as not being addressed. City Manager Ashley Stathatos said they would follow up on that suggestion.

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