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Clay school district says 3K not wasted taxpayer money

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Updated: 4/29/2013 7:23 am
CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A local school district is answering some tough questions about taxpayer dollars possibly wasted on a conference in Ocala.

Action News Ryan Smith obtained a $3,000 invoice sent to the Clay County school district. It was for a team-building event to help ease the rocky relationship between the school board and newly-elected superintendent Charlie Van Zant Junior.

Action New has learned you're stuck paying for a costly conference no one even attended.

This week we went straight to the superintendent for answers but the elected leader refused to speak up on possible taxpayer waste.

Action News didn't accept Van Zant's brush off and pressed his office again Friday.

A district spokesperson said “The Florida School Board Association has sent us an invoice for the training in Ocala. At this time we have not paid that invoice because Wayne Blanton, with the FSBA, has told us that we can reschedule."

The early April conference fell through because Van Zant refused to attend with only three school board members. According to the school board chair, Carol Studdard, the group could have made the trip with a majority of members.

The district now says Superintendent Van Zant will attend when all five members are available.

“In my 20 years, this is the first time that it has really hit me in the face,” said Studdard.

Studdard says the ongoing battle between the board and Van Zant is a black eye for the county.

As an elected leader, only the voters can make a change in office and that can't happen for another three and a half years.

“It's a constitutionally protected position. So unless he commits some horrible crime, there's no getting rid of the guy,” said Clay County parent Donna Bonds.

While tax payers may want more answers from elected leaders, Studdard hopes the roller-coaster relationship will come to a stop.

“Is this is any indication of how the next three and a half years go?” asked Action News Ryan Smith. “Please don't say that,” said Studdard. “Oh, it would be unfortunate to think the next three and a half years are going to go like the last five months have been."

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