School Board rejects ousting Superintendent Fennoy, despite calls from teachers union

PBC School Board Meeting Wednesday night. (WPEC).{ }

A majority of Palm Beach County School Board members decided now was not the right time to revisit Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy’s contract with the school district, despite the teachers’ union calling for his ouster.

In a board meeting Wednesday night, most School Board members said they believed removing Dr. Fennoy would send then school district preparing to welcome students to in person classes next Monday. A number of board members acknowledged a string of difficulties in reopening campuses.

The school district says Fennoy and his staff are “focused on the continued work at hand” of reopening school campuses in less than a week.

Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association President Justin Katz said the district is experiencing a “crisis of leadership,” adding he believes the school district, under Fennoy’s leadership, has not done enough to allow vulnerable teachers to teach from home.

“That has always something that had been talked about. We had been reassured— promises had been made— and they simply were not carried out,” Katz told CBS12 News after he spoke at the meeting. “All we asked is that teachers whose doctors say they should not be in that situation because they have medical conditions that make them more pronto death from cover be afforded an opportunity to teach remotely.”

The Palm Beach County School District is allowing teachers to apply to teach remotely. Katz says more than 1,000 teachers have applied and, despite being deemed “eligible,” have not yet received a remote work assignment because the ultimate decision rests in the hands of individual principals.

Katz said he believes few teachers are getting fully approved to teach from home.

In the meeting, Fennoy dismissed that idea, telling board members there are teachers who have been approved and adding the process is ongoing.

Palm Beach County is conducting simultaneous digital and in-person learning starting next week, meaning that students who chose to stay home may remote-in to classes that have in-person students and teachers instructing from the classroom.

That means, the number of students who elect to go back will impact the number of teachers who are allowed to work remotely, because in-person students must be taught by an in person faculty member, according to the district’s reopening policy.

Teachers protested outside Wednesday night’s meeting, honking horns outside if the school district’s main office building.

In a letter published ahead of the meeting, Katz said teachers had “zero confidence” in Fennoy, saying his members had experienced a “pattern of failed leadership and lies and deceptions.”

The school district released this statement in the wake of the union's call to action on Wednesday:

Dr. Fennoy, and the entire administration, are focused on the continued work at hand, reopening campuses as safely as possible and ensuring that students receive excellence in education whether it be through distance learning or in-person instruction.