The vote was unanimous. The result was Collier County school’s Superintendent Kamela Patton was stripped of her title.
The board voted Tuesday night to remove Patton from office shortly before she was scheduled to step down.
Parents of kids in the Collier County school system said they saw this coming as soon as voters elected the new board members. One parent said it was clear they ran with agendas that didn’t include Patton.
“It has been the highlight of my career to add value to this wonderful community,” said Patton.
“People are excited about moving forward,” said school board member Kelly Lichter.
Not everyone is excited, though.
“What I loved about Dr. Patton was her passion for this district for every child in this district, her commitment, her presence at community events and in the schools. And I will miss that about her,” said Stacy Nicolau.
Nicolau said Patton made Collier County schools a better place for her kids and all kids. “Her enthusiasm was just it was so contagious. It made me excited for my kids and for the kids of Collier County.
Elizabeth Radi, on the other hand, was not a fan of Patton. “I’ve not had a very good history with her, based on some of the things that she has done in the past that I have advocated against, with putting sports club in, or taking sports club out of our schools without telling us or building cell towers at our schools”
Radi doesn’t like the school board either. “I am really concerned with the new board situation.”
Radi said this is all based on the agenda of the newly elected board members. “Most of them ran on the same agenda items, you know, removing certain things, making sure that that CRT isn’t in the schools that there’s a lot of things that they ran on freedom, no masking.”
Patton said she supported the board’s decision and didn’t say a bad thing about them. In fact, she released a farewell message, thanking them and Collier County. You can read her full statement below:
It has been a genuine honor to serve the students, families, and this beautiful community.
I am extremely proud of the work we have collectively accomplished during the last 12 years bringing the school district to its pinnacle of success, rising to 5th highest performing district in the state of Florida.
Earlier this year, I announced my decision to make this my last year as superintendent. Now is the ideal time for me to depart as I welcome a brand new year filled with opportunities that will allow me to build and support other leaders and districts across the nation, including our own school district.
It has been the highlight of my professional career to serve as your superintendent and add value to this wonderful community. I cherish all the memories spanning the first days of school, Friday night lights, STEAM Expo, CCPS 5K, creating and expanding career and technical education programs, entrepreneurship, engineering, Cambridge, expanding the arts to now include theatre across all middle and high schools, the importance of recognizing the leader in every child, and engaging in the greatest milestone for all students — graduation. This has truly been a labor of love!
It has also been an honor to work alongside numerous community organizations, serve on local boards, and engage and participate in a variety of community-building events throughout all of Collier County.
Collier County Public Schools has a wonderful, dedicated, and talented group of employees who always put the best interest of our students first. We also have some of the most remarkable students who continue to achieve and bring much recognition to themselves, our schools, and community. I am grateful to have been associated with such an amazing school district of outstanding students, staff, parents, administrators, volunteers, and community partners.
Collier County Public Schools is well-positioned to move forward and continue advancing achievement for all students. I am excited to celebrate your future successes as I plan to remain here in Naples during this next chapter in my life.
Again, I thank all of you for your support, love, and the privilege to serve as your superintendent of schools.
Happy Holidays and best wishes to you in the New Year!
Patton gave us an indication of what’s next for her. She said she has another opportunity and is staying in Naples.
As for who will take over as superintendent, the school board has appointed Dr. Leslie Ricciardelli as the interim superintendent while they search for a permanent one.