The Alachua County Public School board voted 3-2 in a meeting Friday to select Carlee Simon as interim superintendent.
The vote was passed by Chair Leanetta McNealy, Vice Chair Tina Certain and Diyonne McGraw. Robert Hyatt and Gunnar Paulson dissented, initially voting for Elizabeth Bondy.
“I want to thank the board for really putting their trust in me, in probably the most complicated event in history, but definitely in our education history,” Simon said.
Simon has over almost two decades of education experience.
She said she understands not everyone will be happy with the choice but said she will work hard to ensure everyone comes together for the health and wellbeing of the children and staff in the district.
Simon will fill the role of Karen Clarke who was fired Monday after almost three decades in ACPS. Though she had board and district support, Clarke faced negative evaluations from some board snf community members for not addressing racial achievement gaps and not being seen as an agent for change.
“She represents a new voice, a new skill set and a perspective that has been homegrown right here in Alachua County,” Certain said.
Simon is a product of the ACPS system, having attended Duval, WIlliams, Metcalfe, Howard Bishop and Eastside. Both of her parents also worked in ACPS and her three sons currently attend ACPS, Certain said.
Simon received three degrees from UF: a bachelor’s in architectural design, a master’s of education in education administration and policy and a doctorate in educational administration and policy, with a specialty in public school finance. She is pursuing a second doctorate from UF in design, construction and urban planning.
Certain said Simon’s education background and experience developing digital courses will bring value to the district during COVID-19.
Seven candidates were nominated, but each school board member had the option to nominate two. Simon, who will serve for an undetermined amount of time while the board appoints a new superintendent, received one nomination.
The board later voted unanimously to approve that McNealy will work with the district attorney and Simon to negotiate her contract. The board has to approve it.