Newly released public records show that Duval County School Board member Connie Hall would like to see Superintendent Nikolai Vitti fired.
Hall texted that sentiment in a message she sent this past fall to a school district employee, the records reveal.
Records of emails and texts of Hall and two other Duval School Board members were first requested by a Miami law firm. WJCT obtained a copy of those documents and has published excerpts of the records on its website.
In a September text to School Board Internal Auditor Michelle Begley, Hall wrote, “I vote, fire him now!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
In another text, Hall mentions the resignation of Florida A&M University Board Chairman Rufus Montgomery and says she wishes it was Vitti who was quitting. Yet another text message mocks Vitti with the words, “Special Ed in action.”
The tension between Hall and the hard-charging superintendent is nothing new. Back in November, Hall wrote a letter to Vitti saying he lacks respect when talking to board members.
In this email to WJCT, Vitti writes that Hall’s comments speak to a hostile work environment created by certain board members:
“Unfortunately, the information that was included as part of the PRR is not necessarily surprising as it speaks to the hostile work environment that has been created by certain board members since I interviewed for the superintendent position and assumed the role. When the district was searching for a new superintendent it specifically called for a transformational leader and one that would challenge the status quo. The reality is that the majority of school board members embraced the superintendent as an agent of change; however, some did not. The change that I have implemented and have proposed to implement has been deeply resented and contested by some board members. This is sometimes done through constructive means and at other times through means that are unprofessional.”
Robert H. Fernandez, an attorney with Zumpano Castro law firm, requested Hall’s texts and emails, along with those of board members Paula Wright and Becki Couch. As Context Florida columnist Julie Delegal has observed, the initial public records request seemed to be part of a larger battle in the state over charter schools.