Tuesday's meeting of the Manatee County School Board left no doubt that Superintendent Diana Greene will soon leave Bradenton to lead Duval County Public Schools.
Duval school board members recently voted to hire Greene as the district's new superintendent, but Manatee board member Dave Miner questioned whether Greene's four-year contract with Manatee, signed May 31, 2016, would complicate the transition.
"It is the intent of the parties, and a condition of this Agreement, that the Superintendent's employment by the Board shall be exclusive and that the Superintendent shall accept no other employment during the term of this Agreement, except as herein otherwise permitted in advance by the Board," the contract states.
The contract offers no opt-out clause, and Miner said the board should listen to public input and then address the supposed conflict at an upcoming meeting. Contracts, he added, are meant to secure the superintendent's expertise and avoid the costs of recruiting a new leader.
"As board members, we wish her well," Miner said. "We think she would do a great job up there. At the same time, we have a duty to our community."
His objection arose during the board's workshop. A new item was added to an agenda for the regular meeting, which follows the workshop, and the board later voted 4-1 to make it clear that Greene can "seek and accept other employment."
Miner cast the dissenting vote, arguing that Greene had time to review the contract before she signed it, as did board attorney James Dye and former board chair Karen Carpenter.
Dye said he reviewed the contract and found that an opt-out clause was likely excluded by accident.
"The evidence that I've seen, the historical evidence, is that there was no intent for this to be removed," he said during the workshop. "So my view, if a court had to get involved in this, they would say this was a mistake."
In response to Miner's comments, Greene said the contract prevents her from taking on other roles while serving as the superintendent, such as consulting for a company or working as a teacher. It does not prevent her from leaving employment in Manatee and moving elsewhere.
"But my concern is, first of all, it is being stated as if I have been bought and I am owned by someone," she said.
The discussion came to a close after the board's vote, and both Greene and Miner shared enthusiasm for the future of Manatee's schools. Now the board is tasked with finding an interim superintendent by the time Greene starts her new job on July 1.
Greene said the interim superintendent should not be allowed to apply for the superintendent position, as was the case in past searches. Board member Charlie Kennedy and Vice Chair Gina Messenger voiced their agreement.
"I'm very thankful that Dr. Greene has been with us," Miner said. "My passion to keep her with us is pretty evident, but I wish her the best wherever she may be."