Clay County Superintendent Charlie Van Zant Jr.
His bad communication skills are ruffling feathers
Technically, it’s the Clay County School Board that’s to blame for failing to vote on an “automatic” raise of $29,000 for Superintendent Charlie Van Zant Jr., which not only violated board policy but, as a former superintendent remarked, could have been spent on the county’s only “D” school, Grove Park Elementary. Van Zant can, however, “take credit” for his own actions: banning the board’s attorney, Bruce Bickner, from district staff meetings due, in part, to their disagreements over prayer in schools, and using school money to co-sponsor a controversial “American exceptionalism” conference, prompting the school board to request an investigation by the governor’s office and state attorney’s office. Van Zant also retained an attorney to sue the school board, effectively blocking members from writing language into job descriptions used to hire district staff, stating only he, as superintendent, has the power to do so. And in a dubious decision, he solicited campaign contributions of up to $500 from district employees who’d be working for him in the future — for an election in which he faced only write-in opposition.