Clemons asks state leaders to intervene in Newberry charter vote

State Rep. Chuck Clemons speaks at the groundbreaking for the Ralph W. Cellon Jr. Institute for Skilled Trades and Advanced Manufacturing.
State Rep. Chuck Clemons speaks at the groundbreaking for the Ralph W. Cellon Jr. Institute for Skilled Trades and Advanced Manufacturing.
Photo by Seth Johnson

State Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, has sent a letter to Florida’s secretary of state and education commissioner asking them to intervene in the process of certifying the Newberry charter school conversion vote.

Clemons sent the letter Wednesday evening to Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, “asking for your immediate intervention into a serious matter that has occurred in the House District I represent.”

He told Mainstreet he hopes to receive a response Thursday morning, potentially before the votes are certified.

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Rep. Chuck Clemons said Newberry could break the status quo to create its best future.
Photo by Glory Reitz Rep. Chuck Clemons speaks at the press conference announcing the Newberry charter conversion effort.

The letter came after a seven-hour public meeting to tabulate votes occurred earlier Wednesday in Newberry. Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton oversaw the meeting and announced totals indicating votes to convert all three Newberry schools to charters had failed.

But Clemons cited a Newberry Elementary School teacher vote that was disqualified and a state law that says, “at least 50 percent of the teachers employed at the school” must support the conversion for it to pass.

“[T]he numbers of votes in favor of charter status was clearly sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the statute,” Clemons wrote.

The final teacher vote tally was 22-21 in favor, with one vote disqualified, while the parent vote tally was 149-125 in favor.

“I am specifically asking that through your Legal Counsels, you provide Supervisor Barton with the necessary guidance to certify the results in accordance with existing law,” Clemons wrote to Byrd and Diaz. “[Y]our opinions and the opinions of your Legal Counsel are critical in insuring that this election is certified properly.”

The full text of Clemons’ letter is below.

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Bill Whitten

Regardless of whether you like the charter plan or not, this is a prime example of sloppy, poorly thought out legislation. Millions of dollars of everyone’s taxes and public facilities as well as the education of hundreds of kids all comes down to the vote of ONE PERSON? And now Clemons wants to hand that decision over to the State? So much for even the pretense of local government.

Conservative Whine

Anyone else getting tired of the Republican same old same old?
If a Republican wins by one vote “It is a MANDATE to cram our conservative agenda down your throat.”
If a Republican loses by one vote “Stolen election. Rigged. Unfair. Change the rules to benefit us. Get Chuckie to get the state to overturn the election. Call the Desantis lackies in Tallahassee to overturn home rule.”
Same folks whine about the Alachua County Commission wanting a do over on the stolen-by-dirty-tricks single member district vote.
Guess you have to be a flaming hypocrite to join the Republican Party.

Concerned citizen of newberry

All because a teacher votes on a parent ballot. Like many others, that is a mistake that person should have checked their paper and correct the envelope. Just like everyone else did. The envelopes were different colors and…he just happend to be there for this vote.

Real Gainesville Citizen and Voter

Wrong move on Clemons part!
This is the new authoritarian gambit when votes don’t go the way they want: fraud or mishandling of vote count.

Newberry Parent

Intervene in what, exactly? Laws that already exist? The right wing (and yes, EFN is a right wing org) will do anything but follow their own rules.