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"It was very quick:" Lee County Schools chief Dr. Bernier leaves, interim named

Lee County School District Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier resigned Monday with less than two months left in the school year.
KENSAVAGESUPERINTENDENT
Posted at 7:23 PM, Apr 08, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lee County School District Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier resigned Monday with less than two months left in the school year.

Fox 4 Community Correspondent for Lehigh Acres and Gateway Ella Rhoades was at the meeting as the school board accepted the superintendent's separation agreement which still paid him for the next 20 weeks.

Board members wanted to be clear that Dr. Bernier was not fired.

"To the public, this was not a termination of the superintendent," said board member Armor Persons.

"I can tell you no I did not expect this. It was very quick and a surprise but things happen for a reason," said board member Melisa Giovannelli.

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While it was not discussed at the special meeting, back in October, Fox 4 reported Dr. Bernier's announcement that he would not run for re-election.

In an email sent to Lee County families at the time, Dr. Bernier said his decision came as a result of the position now being elected, rather than appointed, which was a change made by state law.

Dr. Bernier wrote: "...becoming an elected superintendent was never my aspiration," Bernier's email read. "Ultimately, this realization led me to determine that running for election was not a reasonable course of action for my educational journey."

On Monday, the board nominated two candidates for interim superintendent.

Dr. Ken Savage and Michael Ramirez who both currently work for the district.

Ramirez lost the superintendent job to Dr. Bernier in 2022, but then became the superintendent's chief of staff.

In a vote 5 to 2, the school board chose Dr. Savage for the role. He's not new to the job. Dr. Savage was interim superintendent for nearly a year beginning in 2021.

KENSAVAGESUPERINTENDENT
Lee County School District Superintendent Dr. Christopher Bernier resigned Monday with less than two months left in the school year. School board selects Dr. Ken Savage as interim superintendent.

Board member Giovannelli said "This will allow for the interim superintendent who has done this before. I'm very confident in his abilities to serve the district, community and our children."

The board plans to swear Dr. Savage in on Tuesday, and they expect him to serve until the November election.