Forrest Van Camp Jumps into Superintendent Race

Forrest Van Camp Jumps into Superintendent Race

Former Leon County School Board member and long-time school administrator Forrest Van Camp, told Tallahassee Reports he will file to run for Superintendent of Leon Schools.

In an exclusive interview, Van Camp told TR why he is running and addressed each of his opponents. Van Camp said:

I have decided to come out of retirement and run for Superintendent of Schools for Leon County. I cannot sit by and watch the possibility that this great school district may be turned over to a political maverick like Scott Maddox, or a non-experienced showboat, Rocky Hanna. I am also concerned that my friend, Jackie Pons, may have waited too late to show leadership in dealing with problem employees and current issues.

Forrest Van Camp
Forrest Van Camp

Van Camp highlighted his 36 years with the Leon County school district as qualifications for the position. He has served on the administrative staff for all superintendents since 1978 and served 6 years on the Leon County School Board.

In 2014 Van Camp lost his bid for re-election to current Leon School Board member Alva Striplin as the investigation into the awarding of construction contracts at the school board was unfolding.

Van Camp detailed specific policy positions he will support as superintendent.

He wants to remove common core from Leon County schools, reduce staff at the district level, and make sure Leon County Schools are run by local decisions.

Also, Van Camp staked out a position that promises to garner attention and appears to be in direct opposition to current school district policy. Van Camp stated  “that all students will use the bathroom/shower facilities based on gender at birth. Accommodations can and will be made for special needs.”

TR recently reported on the the School Board’s position on this issue here.

A list of Van Camp’s policy positions are provided at the end of this story.

The Race

The entrance of Van Camp is bound to add political intrigue and uncertainty to the already controversial race which featured former Leon High School principal Rocky Hanna and current City Commissioner Scott Maddox challenging incumbent Superintendent Jackie Pons.

City Commissioner Scott Maddox was first to enter the race, criticizing Pons’ leadership and referencing the ongoing FBI investigation. At their first debate, Maddox continued the critique.

Maddox is also advocating for redirecting more funds to the classroom and addressing the low school grades on the southside.

Pons, who was under constant attack in local media with regards to the construction contract issue, decided to run for re-election when an in-house report found no wrong doing and it appeared no action from the authorities was imminent. He announced his intentions in July, 2015

Pons argues that the construction contract issue was overblown and that he and his staff deserve credit for the district’s A rating.

Maddox and Pons are running as Democrats in the partisan race scheduled to be decided in the primary on August 3oth.

Former Leon School principal Rocky Hanna announced his intentions to run in August, 2015. He chose to run with no party affiliation and will not appear on the ballot until November.  Hanna made news when he filed for whistle blower protection during the investigation into school board construction contracts.  Hanna recently resigned his position with the school board, as is required by state law.

Hanna believes the school district has been mismanaged under Pons’ leadership and has criticized highly paid administrators and the diversion of money for school supplies to other purposes.

Together, the three candidates have raised over $600,000.

There are some who have been following the politics of this race who believe Van Camp entered the contest to take votes from Hanna in the general election which could help Pons win.

When asked about this theory, Van Camp said “I believe I am more qualified than anyone in this race and my commitment to education is beyond reproach. I am in it to win it.”

By entering the race Van Camp, a Republican and currently without a primary opponent, ensures that the November race will feature a Republican, a Democrat, and at this point, at least three candidates with no party affiliation. The no party affiliation candidates included Hanna, Michael Wynn, and Patricia Sunday.

Van Camp’s Campaign Positions

• Treat all students as if they are my grandchildren. I plan to adopt all of them.
• Return Leon County Schools to the basics, both academically and financially.
• Empower principals and school staff to make decisions at the school level. I will hire the best principals, and they will report directly to me.
• Reduce staff at the district level.
• Redirect dollars to the classroom.
• Redirect the use of federal dollars to serve all students and not just selected sites.
• Remove Common Core from Leon County Schools.
• Stand firm that all students will use the bathroom/shower facilities based on gender at birth. Accommodations can and will be made for special needs.
• Hire the best teachers to better ensure that all students receive the BEST educational experiences possible.
• Make sure USDOE and FDOE will not run Leon County Schools.
• Listen to parents and community leaders and work with the Leon County School Board to ensure that a great educational community exists in Leon County

13 Responses to "Forrest Van Camp Jumps into Superintendent Race"

  1. Also, the FL. Auditor General found the SAME NO BID LCS contracts in their 2012 audit. Jackie Pons continued the SAME practice from 2012-2015 even though Pons responded to the AG LCS would NOT continue the same practice after 2012. Van Camp lost his last seat because of this, the voters are going to vote against BOTH Van Camp and Pons because of millions in NO BID contracts.

  2. Forgot, these are the same contracts Forrest Van Camp, as Chair of the LCS School Board and the other school board lap dogs ‘rubber stamped’ per the recommendation of Jackie Pons. Again, Forrest Van Camp is part of our problem, NOT our solution.

  3. 2015 FL. Auditor General LCS Audit below says it ALL, they have the FACTS:
    and pages 4-12 in
    ‘…District records were not provided to evidence the selection process.’
    ‘…is not apparent why District personnel assigned CMEs to projects based on a $2 million threshold…’
    ‘…the District chose not to follow the competitive selection process provided in law, choosing rather to assign the divided smaller projects to CMEs based on ITS DISCRETION.’
    ‘…District did not use the competitive selection process specified by Section 287.055, Florida Statutes, to select CMEs for the remaining 21 projects…’
    ‘…we were not provided documentation to support line items for two projects…’ ($2.5Million)
    ‘For project No. 1, District personnel were unable to provide for our review supporting documentation for 17 line items totaling $875,030. District personnel indicated that supporting documentation could not be provided by the CME because of the destruction of records as noted in Finding No. 6.’
    ‘For project No. 7, District personnel were unable to provide for our review supporting documentation for 18 line items totaling $371,716. District personnel stated that no supporting documentation was provided by the CME for any of the payment requests for project No. 7, which totaled $1,577,372 including the $371,716 for which we had requested support documents.’
    LCS was given MULTIPLE opportunities to provide the ‘selection/bidding/payment’ process…but was NOT able to when asked by the Auditor General auditors during the 2015 LCS Audit. Also, $2.5 Million could not be accounted for during this audit. Out of 45 projects, 21 projects were sampled, of the 21, 5 were sampled for the supporting invoices, supporting docs. of which LCS NOR the contractors receiving $2.5 Million could provide supporting invoices to Fl. Auditor General auditors. POOF-GONE-$2.5 Million of taxpayer $, not one LCS person is fired and the citizens are told NO mismanagement is taking place at LCS. Voters will make sure Jackie understands what mismanagement means. LCS has NOT paid Tallahassee Democrat for bid requests because 45 projects were NEVER BID out by LCS, Jackie Pons hand picked the contractors in $2 Million increments. The Auditor General has the FACTS! The AG Auditors DO NOT work for Jackie Pons.

  4. Fact check, Tallahassee Democrat was paid thousands and thousands of dollars to advertise the bidding of every project, including the 43? (your number).Invoices for the advertisements as well as bid tabulation sheets for each and every bid are all part of public record for anyone, who really wants to find out the facts, to view. If you are going to opine, at least know what you are talking about. If your, or anyone’s preferred candidate is going to run for public office, he needs to make sure to wear his big boy pants.

  5. Van Camp, “Jackie Pons Lap Dog”. Van Camp said ‘…there is no stinky here, I know stinky…’ regarding the 43 – $2 Million – NO BID construction contracts approved by Van Camp and the rest of the lap dog school board members. Van Camp is part LCS problems, NOT the solution to the problems.

    1. You are correct about Van Camp being a “Jackie Pons Lap Dog” another name for it is “Pons Pawn”. It’s time for a change and bring integrity back to Leon County Schools.

  6. ThE fact is, it’s now a horse race and there are more candidates than just Maddox, Hanna, Van Camp and Pons! If somebody truly *wants* the position, that person is going to have to work doubly hard to prove why they are most deserving. It is up to our media and our civic groups to help communicate the message, and clearly explain why one should be elected over another. It will then be up to the voters to decide the direction Leon County will go for years to come. The voters absolutely *must not* condone a mud slinging blood bath! Should these candidates run an ‘issues based’ campaign, Leon County families and students will ultimately benefit.

    So candidates! Quit your groaning & wailing, roll up your sleeves, tidy up your campaigns, and get to work!

  7. “In a surprising move, Forrest Van Camp has decided to run for re-election. Van Camp, who is the current holder of the Leon County School Board Seat 1, had previously given all indications that he would step down after his term expired. However, he filed his paperwork with the Leon County Supervisor of elections today.”

    This is a quote from three years ago. When he was ” retiring” the first time. Seems he likes to come out of retirement whenever there’s and election that may not be going the way Pons wants it to go. Wasn’t that the year that Jackie held a fund raiser for Van Camp’s school board reelection compaign?

  8. He can’t stop common core- it’s a State law. And he can’t stop the bathroom senerio, he can only refuse to enforce it and might cause our county to loose federal match. The only people that can tackle that are the Gov and AG by adding Florida to the lawsuit. This guy is just saying what sounds good to us Republicans. What a sham!

  9. Anyone who knows anything about this race knows this guy is a Pons “pon”. He will trash Maddox to help Pons win the primary and his main goal is to take votes away from the very well suited and experienced Hanna. God forbid if he did win, and he doesn’t even really want it. This is just another example of our poor local politics and shows the real character of Pons. I sure hope my R friends, like me, see past this guy and don’t just vote for him because he has a R behind his name. This Republican is all in for Rocky Hanna.

  10. Not really, I just checked Hannah’s website and he’s not nearly so specific on the issues he wants to attack.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.