• Clay schools superintendent accuser changes part of her story

    By: Jenna Bourne, Action News Jax

    Updated:

    A former Keystone Heights principal is changing part of her story on one of her allegations against Clay County Schools Superintendent Charlie Van Zant.

    Dr. Susan Sailor spoke on camera Friday for the first time since she accused her boss of fraud and plagiarism two weeks ago.

    The Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General launched an investigation into her claims this week.

    Sailor said she and Van Zant met with their pastor this week to try to resolve their differences.

    Sailor said while they were there, Van Zant showed her a document in which she says he used parts of a paper she wrote, without citing her.

    At Friday’s news conference, Sailor said Van Zant plagiarized her work for his superintendent’s certification requirements, not for his master’s degree, as she had previously alleged.

    But she stuck to her guns that he ripped off her work.

    Van Zant would not give a straightforward answer as to whether he plagiarized Sailor’s work for his superintendent’s certification requirements.

    “Well, at this point, the Department of Education IG has put this under investigation. I asked for that. And I’m confident that my name will be cleared of any wrongdoing,” said Van Zant.

    Sailor also stood by her accusation that Van Zant knows principals in his district were falsely labeling struggling students as having learning disabilities to inflate graduation rates.

    The district and Van Zant have denied all of Sailor’s accusations and say the timing is politically motivated.

    “This is gutter politics being played out right before the election,” said Van Zant.

    Sailor said her choice to make her accusations this month was not motivated by the upcoming primary, in which Van Zant is up for re-election.


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    “It seems like a coincidence. But really the tipping point for me was when I saw the school grades come out, and so many schools dropping in the district, but yet the graduation rate is soaring. I knew what I had suspected was going on, was going on,” said Sailor.

    Action News Jax got a copy of Sailor’s 324-page personnel file through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    It does not contain any disciplinary actions or complaints against her.

    Her most recent review came from Van Zant, who ranked her as highly effective.

    Sailor is a Clay Virtual Academy English teacher.

    Before that, she held a leadership position at the district office.

    She was transferred to that position after suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress when two students committed suicide while she was principal of Keystone Heights High School.

    She was Florida Teacher of the Year in 1997.

    In the middle of Sailor’s news conference, a school board member demanded a man at the back of the room leave.

    That man would not give his name. He was not a reporter.

    He said he had gone to last night’s school board meeting and thought the news conference was open to the public.

    Van Zant said he did not send that man.

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