"Fire him now!" texted Duval School Board member; Nikolai Vitti calls it "hostile work environment" - Florida Politics

“Fire him now!” texted Duval School Board member; Nikolai Vitti calls it “hostile work environment”

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.

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at m.ross66211@gmail.com.

3 Comments

  1. No wonder kids today are a bunch of crybabies when we have crybabies filling the position of superintendent. Vitti is acting more like a 1st-grader than a leader. He needs to shut up and act like a man.

      1. Vitti knows all about hostile work environments. He is a master at CREATING them. He’s short-tempered, a dictator, bully, and arrogant ass. I agree with the school board member. He should be fired.

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