Communication Builds Our Community

Lake Wales Charter Schools Superintendent Search Challenged

Chairman Calls for Review of Process

More than six months after the departure of lauded Lake Wales Charter Schools Superintendent Jesse Jackson, the process of seeking his replacement being conducted by the Board of Trustees is in disarray.

Board Chairman Danny Gill has written a memo calling for an opportunity for citizens to voice their opinions at the September 20 meeting of the board. His memo states that “This is not a meeting to discuss who the next Superintendent should be or will be. This meeting will be designed to shed light on the process and allow all grievances and concerns to be heard.”

Those “grievances” apparently arose from previous meetings and the printed summary of comments received at that time, when it was agreed to temporarily halt a nationwide search in favor of seeking local candidates to lead the seven-campus system. Gill’s memo states that the purpose of the meeting will be “restoring community faith and confidence in the process” of selecting the next leader. School systems nationwide have increasingly been targets of ideological attacks on personnel and curricula.

Gill recently assumed the role of Chairman following the resignation of Dr. Andy Oguntola, who is now applying for the role of superintendent. Dr. Oguntola is also the director of the Polk State College Lake Wales campus and the chairman of the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce. He was unavailable for comment as this story was written. It will be updated when he becomes available.

Gill has proposed moving the start time of the next Trustees meeting back one hour to 4:00 PM on September 20th to accommodate public comment and the attendance of a representative of the Florida School Boards Association, Andrea Messina, who will join the meeting at 5:00 pm to “assist with the slight shift in the search process.”

Gill indicated in his memo that the Board of Trustees agreed that if a qualified local candidate was not found in “a few weeks” the national search would continue. That understanding was included in the subsequent meeting memo, but apparently disputed by others, resulting in the need for further airing. The report of the Search Committee “will be an integral part of the process,” Gill’s memo stated.

Meetings are normally held in the library at Lake Wales High School. In an effort at transparency, the Charter Schools website at has a prominent button leading to information about the search.


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