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Superintendent accused of trying to silence school board

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Updated: 5/07/2013 11:28 pm
CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- Tension continues to mount between members of the Clay County School Board and Superintendent Charlie Van Zant.

Some board members tell Action News, the superintendent wants all job-related questions sent to him, not school staff.

Clay County School Board Chair, Carol Studdard, says she recently got a call from a senior staff member at the district office and now believes the already contentious communications between the two sides is only going to get worse.

She says the superintendent is blocking board members from talking to school district staffer.

"Tells me that if I or any other board member had any questions in the future that we are not to call staff, that we are to call him," said Studdard. 

Board members tell me they rely on speaking with staff members every week to get input on school-related issues.

Action News went to district headquarters in Green Cove Springs to get answers from the superintendent but was told Van Zant couldn't wasn't available.

School Board member Janice Kerekes says the superintendent is cutting off a vital line of communication.

"It could possibly be considered a gag order if the school board is not permitted to talk to staff. Which they are the experts in their field. We need to be able to have access to them," said Kerekes.

Unlike Duval County, the Clay County superintendent is elected, not hired by the school board.

Studdard says the board can only hope squabbling between school leaders won't impact student success.

"We need to concentrate on what we're there for," said Studdard. "This political maneuvering just needs to stop."

Studdard tells Action News she plans to bring this issue up at next week's meeting.

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