By Eric Daugherty
January 14, 2021 Updated 9:48 A.M. ET
FORT MYERS (FCV) – Despite a potential new referendum in less than 10 months to make the Lee County superintendent elected rather than appointed, the school board is rushing to appoint one before voters and parents have a chance to decide.
Florida State Representative Jenna Persons has introduced a bill, HB 497, that, if passed into law, would trigger a referendum – a question for voters on a general election ballot – allowing voters to decide if the Lee County Superintendent will be elected, or remain appointed.
Parents have consistently criticized the Board for being out of touch, and even hostile, to parents.
Persons told FCV that the bill, if passed, would enact a November 8, 2022 referendum on the general election ballot asking voters if the Lee County superintendent ought to be elected or remain an appointed position.
If on Election Day voters choose to put the superintendent to a direct election, they will be able to elect the next 4-year superintendent in the 2024 election.
“We have seen parents and community members more engaged than ever in ensuring that our School District provides the best education for our children. I have heard from many in Lee County who are demanding greater accountability from School District leadership. This local bill answers that call and gives the people of Lee County the opportunity to decide the question as to whether the Superintendent of Schools should be elected by the people rather than appointed by the School Board,” she said.
The Board is rushing to appoint a new permanent superintendent despite political uncertainty and Person’s potential referendum, which is well on it’s way to going on the ballot. Four of the seven board members are up for re-election, two of which haven’t filed yet. Is it appropriate for a board to appoint someone when there could be four new members come this time next year? Last week, five finalists were chosen as potential permanent replacements of Interim Superintendent Ken Savage, who was appointed last year after Greg Adkins stepped down from the position.
Adkins stepped down after ‘LGBTQ’ policies were revealed by FCV Founder and Editor-in-Chief Brendon Leslie to be part of the code of conduct. Parents expressed strong outrage over the revelation, but Adkins claims his stepping down was unrelated.
The Board’s troubled past rings especially true with the covert inclusion of leftist policies in the code of conduct; one part of it read, “All students are allowed to be involved in school activities that are consistent with their gender identity.”
FCV reached out to the Lee County School Board for comment on why they are attempting to swiftly appoint a new superintendent despite the clear path of passage of the direct election bill. Unsurprisingly, the only school board member who responded was one who is critical of the fast-tracking of a permanent superintendent.
Melisa Giovannelli, Lee County Board Member of District 2, said that she has “questioned the quality of candidates based on this possible legislation of an elected superintendent being on our ballot in November.”
“This Board does not listen to the community. The proof is in the actions of how this Board’s expedited hiring process of a new superintendent has only solidified to the voters that we need an elected superintendent so that their voice can be heard.”
Giovannelli believes that the initiative will be on the ballot this November.
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