Jason Fischer not concerned about Jacksonville City Council’s stance on elected school superintendent
Jascon Fischer wants the Duval County School Superintendent to be an elected position. Image via Colin Hackley.

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Regardless, the bill will move forward.

Jacksonville state Rep. Jason Fischer is pushing a local bill that would start a process that could lead to an elected Duval County School Superintendent.

If the local bill passes, Duval voters in November 2020 would be able to vote on whether they want an elected Superintendent, setting up a potential 2022 election to select a replacement for a position appointed for decades.

The bill has proven controversial, ahead of a Duval County Legislative Delegation vote on whether to advance the local bill Nov. 1.

The Jacksonville City Council has delayed weighing in on the measure thus far.

Fischer on Oct. 8 asked for a deferral of the bill, with Council member Matt Carlucci (who opposes Fischer’s proposal) saying Fischer wanted to make the case for the local bill to the City Council in two weeks.

However, he announced last week that he would not be at the City Council on the 22nd, as that date falls on a Tallahassee committee week. The Council will consider a resolution to oppose any changes to the School Board structure, and Fischer won’t be there.

This nettled Carlucci, per an email: “I deferred my bill of opposition out of courtesy upon Rep. Fishers last minute request just before our last city council meeting (where school board members and members of the public took time to attend) because he said he would drive back from Tallahassee to address the Jacksonville City Council at our next meeting. Just thought you all should know he will now be unable to attend that said meeting.”

“It’s hard to play ball under such a set of rules,” Carlucci added.

Fischer said he had no intention of getting back to the City Council in person, with the committee work at the Capitol being priority. He has, however, lobbied many members with personal phone calls, even as he stresses that he’s not involved in “advocacy” for the bill.

“I hope they embrace letting the voters in their district vote,” Fischer said.

In a conversation late last week in his office in Tallahassee, Fischer discussed the twists and turns in the local bill process, insisting that the State Legislature alone has the power to make law on this one.

And in that context, a City Council resolution to support or oppose his proposal makes no difference.

“They have no force of law. They’re a statement by them,” Fischer said. “Their opinions are interesting.”

But all governments are subsidiary to the state government, Fischer said.

“When I filed the bill, the charter and delegation rules suggest we send it to the City Council or the affected agency, and I did that,” Fischer said.

The School Board, the “affected agency” in question, opposed Fischer’s proposal.

Carlucci, as Fischer insisted on many occasions, has no standing.

“He found a way to gain a bunch of headlines by inserting himself into processes that he wasn’t welcome to, and this is one of those,” Fischer said. “Nobody asked for his opinion.”

“I’m not sure if he’s opposing democracy,” Fischer said, saying it’s “hypocritical” to call for votes on JEA or the sales tax referendum, but not on the elected Superintendent question.

Fischer noted the School Board’s opposition doesn’t matter, given voters are “wildly supportive of elected positions, like an elected Superintendent.”

Fischer noted that he was willing to testify to the Rules Committee, but that opportunity wasn’t extended to him.

The concept has been discussed generally with Speaker Jose Oliva, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, and Gov. Ron DeSantis, as part of an ongoing conversation about education reform.

Ultimately, Fischer stresses that the lawmaking process for this one will in in Tallahassee.

“You can kind of chirp on the sidelines,” he said, “or get in the game over here.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


6 comments

  • Sonja Fitch

    October 20, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    This white man is just Another One of Looting Lenny’s boy toys! Looting Lenny will do anything to get to the public money from our JEA to our public schools. Just get those public dollars!

  • Susan

    October 20, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    I continue to hope the Duval Delegation will get their own legal experts to research the issue so that someone can give me the exact place in the Florida Constitution or the city’s charter giving authority to the Duval Delegation to ask the state legislature to change our city’s charter or put items on our city’s ballot to change our charter.

    If I’m not wrong, then it feels to me the Duval Delegation is breaking the law by considering Fischer’s bill J-1.

    The city’s charter says the city council can change our charter. The city council and citizen initiatives can request that items be put on the ballot and if the voters approve, then that initiative can change our charter. There is nothing in the charter to say the Duval Delegation can do either one.

    Article VIII Section 9 is no longer valid–per Section 6(e)–because we have a charter.

    • Theodore Hornoi-Centerwall

      October 20, 2019 at 9:34 pm

      Here’s a Thank You to Susan for summarizing the key points regarding Jason Fischer’s J-1 bill. There is no excuse for the Legislature in Tallahassee running roughshod over the Duval County School Board and the Jacksonville City Council.

      Susan has gone to a lot of trouble to research the details, so her conclusions should be taken seriously. She is also a frequent contributor to discussions on the local radio call-in show, “First Coast Connect,” which airs Monday – Friday on WJCT FM 89.9 starting at 9:00 A.M.

  • Seber Newsome III

    October 21, 2019 at 11:04 am

    I hope the city council votes to allow the voters to elect a School board superintendent, because the process right now is not working. You have a school superintendent that does not want students to stand for the National Anthem, in a military town for Gods sake. The teacher who was suspended from First Coast high school is still not back in the classroom, and its going on two months now. People will not vote to give the school board a sales tax, when they do not even support our military. Lets elect a school board superintendent, one who is familiar with local events.

    • ANN G

      October 21, 2019 at 11:45 pm

      There is no school rule or law that mandates ANYONE stand for the pledge of allegiance. Our first amendment guarantees ALL of us free speech – even school children – which includes NOT being forced to say the pledge or stand and/or salute the flag. And none of that has anything to do with an elected superintendent. We don’t need politicians messing with our education system anymore than they already try to do from Tallahassee.

  • Frankie M.

    October 21, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    Fischer said. “Nobody asked for his opinion.”

    Funny I don’t remember anybody asking Fischer for his opinion either. It doesn’t surprise me that Fischer doesn’t respect the school board’s authority. He didn’t respect or listen to them when he was on the school board here. The man doesn’t even listen to his own constituents. He answers to one man: Gary Chartrand.

    Listen to Fischer channel Curry.

    “You can kind of chirp on the sidelines,” he said, “or get in the game over here.”

    Lenny’s words coming from Jason’s mouth.

Comments are closed.


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