Palm Beach County schools’ temporary Superintendent Wayne Gent today picked up two key endorsements to remain in the job permanently.
The unions representing Palm Beach County school secretaries, bus drivers and maintenance workers today endorsed Gent, complicating matters for the School Board. Earlier today, the teachers union also “welcomed” the idea of keeping Gent (pictured, right) in office.
The problem is that Gent is not one of the three superintendent finalists to be interviewed by the board on Wednesday. Gent was not allowed to apply for the position, as a condition of taking the job on an interim basis.
The finalists are Janis Andrews, the county’s assistant superintendent for curriculum; Constance Jones, Lee County public schools chief academic officer; and Tom Watkins, a Michigan-based education and business consultant. They were selected after a national search.
But the Florida Public Services Union (FPSU) and Association of Educational Secretaries and Office Professionals (AESOP) said in a news release that Gent has demonstrated an ability to run the school district effectively.
“We would welcome the prospect of continuing working with the Interim Superintendent if the School Board decides to appoint him as a permanent Superintendent,” Alphonso Mayfield, FPSU’s president, said in a statement.
But the union also said it supports Jones and Andrews, citing good discussions with them about “the budget crisis, improving quality of services, low graduation rates, privatization and employees’ welfare.”
Mayfield further clarified the unions’ endorsement: “At a time when the school district is facing numerous challenges, we need a candidate who builds a broader consensus around the vision for the school district. Mr. Gent has shown this in his actions while Dr. Jones and Dr. Andrews have demonstrated their commitment towards achieving this vision.”
Now that three major unions along with parent activists have supported Gent, the School Board would appear to be under great pressure to consider appointing him and passing on the finalists.