Duval County

Duval County School Board votes 7-0 to select Christopher Bernier as next DCPS superintendent

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE, 5/23/24, 10:30 a.m.: Christopher Bernier was selected by the Duval County School Board to be the next Duval County Public Schools superintendent with a 7-0 vote on Thursday morning.

Action News Jax will have the latest updates on the next steps on CBS47 Action News Jax at Noon.

Original story below:

After almost a full year, Duval County will finally learn who its next leader will be as the public school superintendent.


Whoever the school board picks won’t start until July 1, but Thursday will still feel like the culmination of what has been a very long process.

We’ve been telling you every step of the way. The last 2 candidates are Dr. Daniel Smith and Dr. Christopher Bernier.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

Action News Jax found a lawsuit tying Bernier’s former school district to a string of racist text messages.

This suit was filed after Bernier abruptly stepped down from his last position in Lee County, Florida. His contract was set to run through November, but after a mutual agreement, he left April 8, which is the same day the lawsuit was filed naming him and his former school board as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges that the Lee County School District failed to protect a student from racial discrimination while Bernier was still superintendent. It says that in February 2023, a Lee County assistant baseball coach sent a racist text in a group chat.

The coach was fired; however, the lawsuit alleges that administrators “did not take direct action to address it.” Instead, they “insisted that related behaviors were unrelated.”

Read: ‘Several red flags:’ Questions raised over departure of Superintendent now going for DCPS top job

The family who filed the lawsuit said the school district “failed to protect the actual victims of discrimination.” The student’s parents said that in turn lead to a racial divide between white and black players on the team.

Bernier alluded to the incident when asked during one of the Duval County School Board interviews about the most difficult thing he’s had to deal with as a superintendent.

“One of the most complicated issues I’ve dealt with is potentially going to become an ESPN story,” he said. “It was a very difficult decision, and some of the ramifications are still being played out. It’s an ongoing investigation.”

Read: Duval School Board narrows field to two finalists in search for next superintendent

Action News Jax reached out to both school districts about the pending lawsuit. You can reach their responses HERE.

Action News Jax also told you when concerns were raised over the other candidate Daniel Smith’s connection to a sexual assault scandal at a school district in Virginia. There were accusations that the district leaders tried to cover it up. Smith started his role after the scandal and wasn’t named in the grand jury report.

The DCPS School Board will meet at 9 a.m. on Thursday and is expected to approve the superintendent’s job contract by the first week of June. The next superintendent is set to start July 1.

Read: Duval Superintendent candidate finalist not connected to Loudoun County school scandal

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.

Comments on this article