Duval County School Board picks new Superintendent who is backed by Manny Diaz

Bernier image via Lee County School Facebook
Christopher Bernier got the nod over a candidate from northern Virginia.

The open question of who will be the next full-time Duval County School Superintendent now has clarity and closure, with the School Board unifying behind a candidate with support in the state capital.

Christopher Bernier, the former appointed Superintendent of Lee County and the preference of Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, got the nod.

Charlotte Joyce, a Ron DeSantis-endorsed candidate in 2022, is supporting Bernier’s appointment, saying he was “someone who could come in” and “has experience doing the work” to make Duval an “A” district.

She suggested that the other candidate, Daniel Smith of Loudoun County, lacked “experience” in dealing with issues Duval has, and that Bernier may be better to “get students back in the district” and handle contract negotiations.

Lori Hershey is also on board with Bernier, citing his ability to “literally rebuild a district” after a hurricane in 2022, by interfacing with Tallahassee to “do a stellar job.” His “proven ability to drive change” also played into her decision.

April Carney, who won a 2022 race also with the blessing of the Governor, remarked that Loudoun County lacked the ethnic diversity Duval has, raising questions about Smith’s ability to handle this district.

She wants someone to “build bridges in our divisive community,” noting the NAACP offered “unwavering support” for the Lee County candidate. Conversely, she said Smith had issues with “parental rights” back in Virginia, including maintaining the integrity of single-sex bathrooms, raising questions about Title IX and “girls’ sports.”

Kelly Coker said Bernier was the “right candidate for right now,” given his experience in “the Florida way of work” in schools.

Traditional Democrats are also backing the choice.

Warren Jones, the longest-tenured Democrat on the City Council, said that he was “concerned” with how close Bernier was with Tallahassee, but nonetheless said he backed the Lee County alum anyway.

Board Chair Darryl Willie said the candidates were “close” but given the Board majority backing Bernier, he would do the same.

Moms for Liberty hailed the hiring Thursday afternoon.

“Please write the DCPS School Board members a note of thanks about making this hard decision and about how we can work together in the future for the betterment of DCPS Students.  They will probably hear from community members who are not happy about the decision so show your support for their decision,” the email urged of “all members.”

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


  • gopem757

    May 23, 2024 at 11:05 am


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  • gopem757

    May 23, 2024 at 11:06 am

    get students back in the district” and handle contract negotiations

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  • Frankie M

    May 23, 2024 at 12:25 pm

    It’s interesting how Carney defends the NAACP along with diversity, equity, and inclusion when it suits her & badmouths it when it doesn’t. (I’d have thought M4L wouldn’t want to have anything to do with the NAACP or DEI.) Smith was also cleared of any connection to the incident that took place except for the fact that he worked in the district after it took place but then again Carney has never been big on facts. It looks like Manny Diaz got his answer from the district albeit a little bit late. Even though he’s no visionary like Vitti I welcome Bernie’s pending systematic dismantling of Duval “Public” Schools. Turn them all into charters, give the kids vouchers, and send them to Bishop Kenny. After all it worked for AG!

  • the Truth

    May 23, 2024 at 9:00 pm

    the leftist liberals were trying desperately to paint this man as a racist, their usual attack, it did not work

    • MH/Duuuval

      May 24, 2024 at 10:44 pm

      The primary problem is Manny Diaz being a reference. Diaz and Richard Corcoran, now making a cool million at New College, put together the grift in Jefferson County which lasted for 5 years — and then they bailed, having failed to fix the system’s problems. Diaz also is the biggest cheerleader for charter schools and in deep with Academica, the Miami-based charter school franchiser that operates 200 charter schools in the US.

      Bernier brought a recommendation from the Lee County NAACP, which is kinda cool, right? But, another group of African Americans is suing the Lee system including Bernier.

      So, the jury is still out.

  • Frankie M.

    May 25, 2024 at 4:10 pm

    “He’s no visionary like Vitti,” says AG. Whatever that means.

  • MH/Duuuval

    May 26, 2024 at 10:26 am

    It’s worth noting Lee County public schools is 45% Hispanic, so both Lee and Duval are majority-minority systems.

Comments are closed.


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