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Former Manatee Superintendent to Retire Amid Scandal in Duval

JACKSONVILLE – Former Manatee County Schools Superintendent Diana Greene will be allowed to retire two years early from her position as Duval County Superintendent, rather than face termination following scathing reports of the district failing to forward dozens of complaints against district employees to a state office that tracks professional conduct. The decision followed the March arrest of a Duval teacher on charges of lewd conduct.

Greene had also been found by the state to have failed to report sexual misconduct against students while superintendent in Manatee. The district's decision was announced during a special emergency meeting of the Duval County School Board on Tuesday afternoon. Attorneys for Duval County Public Schools, Greene, and the City of Jacksonville Office of General Counsel have reportedly been negotiating a separation agreement since last week.

In March, Jeffrey Clayton, a teacher at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, was arrested and chargedwith "lewd and lascivious conduct involving a student," according to a message from the principal sent to families. The Florida Department of Education questioned Greene as to why the district did not tell the state about a prior incident involving Clayton in November of 2021. The report from that incident detailed Clayton rubbing a student’s back and telling her she was beautiful.

Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz later revealed that nearly 50 such incidents within the district had not been reported to the state, as required by Florida law.

Last week, Duval School Board Chairwoman Dr. Kelly Coker released the following statement:

"I am deeply troubled to learn the district has only recently sent upwards of 50 investigative cases involving educators in Duval County Public Schools to the Office of Professional Practices for the Florida Department of Education (FDOE). Some of these cases date back to as early as 2020. The timely reporting of any violation to the FDOE is crucial in how we safeguard students. The timeline for reporting is also clearly outlined in state statute, and our Board has every expectation that our district will adhere to the laws which govern our work with students. I am confident this topic will be a part of our discussion in the Special Board Meeting I have called for Wednesday, April 26. The children of Duval County deserve better, and as a Board, we want to assure our community that the security and safety of their children in our schools will always be our number one priority."

In a statement of her own, Greene acknowledged that the failure to report was unacceptable but claimed it was the first she knew of the matter.

Terms of the separation agreement will see Greene retire on July 24. She was initially to retire at the end of her contract two years later, coinciding with the end of her DROP period. Her severance payment will be $114,942.53, which is 20 weeks of her current base rate of pay, plus $20,015.22 of sick leave payout.

In a 2020 letter to Superintendent Cynthia Saunders, who replaced Greene as Manatee's superintendent, then-Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said that his department had found that while at Manatee in 2017, Greene had failed to report allegations made against a teacher at Lincoln Middle School.

Corcoran said that while he had "grave concerns that delays in reporting similar allegations can result in our students being unnecessarily put in danger of victimization at the hands of predators," no adverse action would be taken against Greene. Corcoran was recently made Interim President of New College of Florida by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Saunders was also allowed to retire this June rather than be terminated after having been found by the Florida Commission on Ethics to have directed a scheme that inflated the district’s graduation rate. Both Saunders and Greene had come to Manatee from Marion County Schools.

Saunders' primary defense was that the tactic of coding dropouts as having "transferred" to homeschooling, thus preventing them from affecting graduation rates, was that it was the way she had done it under Greene both in Marion and Manatee counties. Nevertheless, Greene, who had by then left the district for the much higher-paying position in Duval, was not investigated for her role in the scandal.

The Manatee School Board is currently deciding who will replace Saunders when she retires at the end of the school year. Among the three finalists that the board has recently narrowed its search down to isScott Schneider, who was hired by Greene to be Chief of Schools in Duval County in 2021 and remains in the position.

The other two candidates are Doug Wagner, who has served as one of Saunders' deputy superintendents since 2018, and Dr. Jason C. Wysong, Deputy Superintendent of Seminole County Public Schools from 2021 to the present.


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