Update, 2:37 p.m.: Roberts resigned prior to Tuesday’s school board meeting. In a letter to the board, he wrote, “I trust that my contribution, though brief, has left a path for others to follow in continuing the educational improvements for boys and girls, especially those who are under-achieving.”
Original story, 5:29 a.m.: Ministers and community members from around Gainesville gathered Monday night to discuss the fate of Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Owen Roberts.
Roberts for nearly two months has faced criticism for improper citations in his self-published book, “A Framework for Improving School System in the 21st Century.”
NAACP leaders opened the meeting with a prayer vigil for Roberts, and well wishes and words of encouragement for the superintendent filled the room; Roberts was not in attendance. The main topic of discussion was the five school board members’ evaluations of the superintendent.
The evaluations discuss Roberts’ effectiveness during the past year.
One school board member described Roberts’ performance as needing more improvement.
“The plagiarism issue is just the latest and biggest negative issue during a year of negative issues,” wrote Gunnar Paulson. “It is not the example we want our students to see.”
School board members like Leanetta McNealy, however, contend that Roberts’ performance is “highly satisfactory.”
“Because of his impeccable leadership we are headed in the right direction,” McNealy wrote.
The school board will meet Tuesday night at 6 p.m. to discuss whether to accept the evaluations.
“I have had some anxiety about the final outcome, but if I believe and hold onto my faith I know that there is going to be a way to have a 3-2 vote (against accepting the evaluations),” McNealy said Monday night.
There’s also a special meeting scheduled for June 27 to discuss Roberts’ contract.
“If you look at the (negative) evaluations, it’s all personal things. Everything that he has set out to do, he has accomplished it,” said Evelyn Foxx, president of Alachua County Branch of the NAACP.
The evaluations included criticism of the superintendent’s policy changes and hiring decisions made despite advice from school board members.
Foxx said the NAACP, along with community leaders, plans to show up in numbers to the school board meeting on Tuesday to show their support for Roberts.