Duval County Public Schools

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Duval County Public Schools
DCPS logo sm.png
Teaching. Learning. Achieving.
Type and location
Established 1885 (1885)
Country United States
Location 1701 Prudential Drive, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, 32207
Coordinates 30°19′02″N 81°39′02″W / 30.317280°N 81.650548°W / 30.317280; -81.650548Coordinates: 30°19′02″N 81°39′02″W / 30.317280°N 81.650548°W / 30.317280; -81.650548
District information
Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti
Schools 183[1]
Students and staff
Students 125,384 (November 15, 2012)[1]
Teachers 8,441[1]
Staff 14,059[1]
Other information
Language English or bilingual with Spanish
Website www.duvalschools.org

Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) is the public school district for Jacksonville and Duval County, Florida. As of 2011, the district had an enrollment of over 123,000 students, making it the 22nd largest school district in the United States,[2] and the 6th largest school district in Florida. In 2010, it was home to two of the top ten high schools in the United States: Stanton College Preparatory School and Paxon School for Advanced Studies.[3]


One of the low points in the history of the school system was the 1964 dis-accreditation of all 15 public high schools in Duval County.[4]

The board received national attention[5][6] in November 2008 when the five white members voted to retain the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School. The case was controversial because Forrest was a slave trader, a confederate General, and was rumored (but never proven) to be one of the founders of the first incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan.[7]

School board[edit]

The district's administrative offices are primarily located on the south bank of the St. Johns River in a six-story building at 1701 Prudential Drive. The Superintendent of DCPS is Dr. Nikolai Vitti. The superintendent is appointed by the Duval County School Board, a body of seven elected officers, each board member representing a particular geographic area. School Board districts are somewhat analogous to City Council districts in that there are two council districts in each school board district. The current School Board members, in order of district number, are Cheryl Grymes, Scott Shine, Ashley Smith Juarez, Paula Wright, Dr. Constance S. Hall, Becki Couch and Jason Fischer. Board members are elected every four years with two-term limits, with Districts 4 through 7 elected during midterm election cycles (next in 2014) and Districts 1 through 3 elected during presidential cycles (next in 2016).[8]

In 2011, Duval County had four schools identified as failing, according the results of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). Accountability legislation passed during Jeb Bush's administration required that schools failing the FCAT for four consecutive years must either: become a charter school, operate under an outside management organization, or close. Andrew Jackson, Raines and Ribault High Schools, and North Shore K-8, all traditionally black schools, face intervention if they do not pass the Spring 2011 FCAT.[9]

On February 24, 2012 the school board decided not to renew Ed Pratt-Dannals contract, which expired on December 31, 2012. The chairwoman stated that it was a mutual decision, and the superintendent released a written statement announcing his retirement after five years.[10] On September 25, 2012 the school board voted to hire Dr. Nikolai Vitti, the current Chief Academic Officer of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, to replace Ed Pratt-Dannals as superintendent.[11] Vitti's contract became effective on November 12, 2012.[12]


Name Years
2012 - present Nikolai Vitti
2007 - 2012 Ed Pratt-Dannals
2005 - 2007 Joseph Wise
1998 - 2005 John Fryer
1989 - 1997 Larry Zenke
1976 - 1989 Herb Sang
1974 - 1976 John Gunning



DCPS has used an attendance model of Kindergarten through Grade 5 for elementary schools, Grades 6-8 for middle school and Grades 9-12 for high school since 1991. Before then, Grade 6 was part of elementary school and Grade 9 was part of middle school (called Junior High in DCPS prior to 1988). As now required by Florida law, virtually all elementary schools have Pre-K programs.

DCPS has 160 regular-attendance schools as of the 2007-08 school year: 103 elementary schools, 25 middle schools. 3 K-8 schools, 2 6-12 schools and 21 high schools. The district also has an adult education system with night classes at most high schools, three dedicated ESE schools, as well as a hospital/homebound program, 13 charter schools and three alternative education centers. The total does not include charter schools, which numbered 13 for the 2009-2010 school year. Charter schools operate under contract to the Duval County School Board and follow the curriculum and rules of the DCSB. They are publicly funded and non-sectarian; most are oriented to help students "at risk". These include students who have been unsuccessful in a traditional setting; have below average grades; have difficulty on tests; have been retained in one or more grade levels; or have problems with behavior.[13]

The schools of DCPS are divided into four educational clusters plus “special schools,” which are managed by chief officers who report directly to the Deputy Superintendent. The four clusters include an elementary cluster, elementary turnaround cluster, secondary cluster and secondary turnaround cluster.


A total of 62 schools offer magnet programs. In addition to the required courses, these schools allow students to explore individual interests and develop talents in the arts, aviation, culinary skills, language, law & legal occupations, mathematics, public service, science and technology. Nearly 20,000 students participated during the 2009-2010 school year.[14]

School standing[edit]

Since 1998, Newsweek has published a list of high schools that challenge their students to excel by enrolling in advanced placement courses, participating in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program or Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE).[15] Duval County is home to four of the nation's 100 best high schools based on the Newsweek list. For 2010, Stanton College Preparatory School was 3rd, Paxon School for Advanced Studies was 8th, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts was 33rd and Mandarin High School was 97th.[3] The entire list included 1,623 schools, just 6% of public high schools in the United States. Three other Jacksonville schools were included on the current list: Duncan U. Fletcher High School was 79th in 2008,[16] but dropped to 291st; Sandalwood High School was 205th; and Englewood High School was 1080th.

Newsweek also publishes a "Catching Up" list of 33 disadvantaged schools nationwide that challenge their students to participate in Advanced Placement programs which offer better instruction and a stimulating curriculum designed to improve academic skills and prepare for college. Because fewer than 10% of those sitting for the exams actually pass, the schools are excluded from the Best High Schools list. For 2010, six of the top 11 schools and twelve of the top 22 were located in Jacksonville: [17]

Florida Public K-12 School Rankings are based on data from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) provided by Florida Department of Education. Based on FCAT Data, among the state's 72 school districts, Duval County rates as follows: High schools—51, Middle Schools—52, Elementary Schools—42.

In 2007, the district instituted the Educators of Change program to identify future teachers among professionals and other individuals who have achieved success outside of the education field.

On August 23, 2010, Atlantic Coast High School opened for the 2010-2011 school year. It was the first new public high school built in the county since 1990 and cost $78 million. The school was constructed primarily to relieve overcrowding at the two largest high schools in Duval County, Sandalwood and Mandarin.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "DCPS at a glance" DCPS website
  2. ^ US Department of Education, Digest of Education Statistics
  3. ^ a b Mathews, Jay: America's Best High Schools: The List Newsweek magazine, June 13, 2010. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  4. ^ Rinaman, Jim. "Outline of the History of Consolidated Government in Jacksonville, Florida". 2003. Jacksonville Historical Society. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Florida High School Keeps KKK Founder's Name" Fox News, November 10, 2008
  6. ^ "Fla. high school retains Klan leader's name" MSNBC, November 4, 2008
  7. ^ Wyeth, John Allan (1989). That Devil Forrest: Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. p. ix. 
  8. ^ [1] Duval County Public Schools, November 12, 2012
  9. ^ Sanders, Topher: "Duval's plan for struggling schools rejected by state" Florida Times-Union, February 7, 2011
  10. ^ Schoettler, Jim: "Needs diverse for Duval superintendent who replaces Pratt-Dannals" Florida Times-Union, February 25, 2012
  11. ^ Sanders, Topher: "Duval School Board votes for Nikolai Vitti to be next superintendent" Florida Times-Union, September 25, 2012
  12. ^ [2] Duval County Public Schools, November 12, 2012
  13. ^ "Charter schools" Duval County Public Schools, School listings
  14. ^ "Magnet programs" Duval County Public Schools, School listings
  15. ^ "America's Best High Schools: The FAQ" Newsweek Magazine, June 13, 2010
  16. ^ Newsweek Magazine: The Top of the Class 2007 Newsweek, 2008
  17. ^ Mathews, Jay: "America’s Best High Schools: The Catching-Up List" Newsweek, July 14, 2010
  18. ^ Burmeister, Caren: “New boundaries, new school changes enrollment” Florida Times-Union, July 30, 2010

External links[edit]