Cape charter schools sever ties with superintendent

Published: Updated:
Interim Cape Coral charter schools Superintendent Jacquelin Collins

CAPE CORAL, Fla. The city’s charter school board voted Tuesday to terminate Superintendent Nelson Stephenson, effective immediately.

Stephenson let the school system know last month he would resign at the end of his contract in June. Christa McAuliffe Elementary School Principal Jacquelin Collins will serve as interim superintendent.

The governing board of the Cape Coral Charter School Authority consulted with Stephenson on its decision to sever ties.

“I totally support the decision,” Stephenson said. “It was wonderful that the board cut ties with me in such a calm, confident manner.”

The termination was without cause, so Stephenson will receive four months of severance pay worth about $38,000.

Stephenson expressed frustration with comments made by members of City Council as he explained his decision to resign, though he declined to single anyone out. He had a highly publicized run-in with Mayor Marni Sawicki during a governing board meeting in January. Sawicki has said she won’t run for re-election this year.

“I’m tired, with a family, to hear and read things about myself that aren’t true, so this will allow me to step back and really allow everybody to focus on what’s important, which is the kids,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson said he’s “tickled” that the board promoted Collins.

“This is kind of my dream realized, which is a superintendent’s leaving and in two seconds a decision can be made and somebody awesome can be placed into the position, and we move forward,” he said.

Collins said she’ll prioritize rebuilding relationships between the charter schools and city officials.

“We need the city,” she said. “We need them to function. We use a lot of their services, their departments, and we’re a part of the city, and we need to work together.”

Stephenson faced an April 1 deadline to either sign a contract extension or a new contract, but he declined to do so.

The lifelong Southwest Florida resident said he doesn’t have another job lined up but indicated he may seek work outside the state. Board members are willing to write a letter of recommendation for him, Stephenson said.

“I’ve been contacted by some people and there may be some opportunities there for me, so I’m just going to wait and see what happens,” he said.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.