Saying farewell and thank you to outgoing school board members


Last night I had the pleasure of attending a tribute to the retiring members of the School Board. Between them, Martha Barrett, Tommy Hazouri, Betty Burney and W.C. Gentry have served our district a combined 36 years. Each member was honored with remarks from a favorite teacher or principal and a special award for their service. And each member made their own remarks about what their service has meant to them and what their fellow board members have taught them. "You taught me about grace," Becki Couch said of Martha Barrett; "You always reminded us it's what best for children," said Fel Lee of Betty Burney; "You were our wordsmith in writing policy," said Paula Wright of W.C. Gentry. Denese Hall, principal of Robert E. Lee High School spoke about Tommy Hazouri and reminded the audience that he has served this community for over three decades as a legislator, mayor and school board member. All of the speakers spoke of sacrifices citizens make to become elected officials, but they also spoke of rewards: learning how to work as a team to face challenges and take responsibility for results. During their tenure school busing was privatized, troubled schools got off the intervene list and the graduation rate increased, just a few of a long list of their accomplishments. The Jacksonville Public Education honors these outgoing members and is grateful for their service.

Want to thank the outgoing members yourself? Take a moment to send them an e-mail:




of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.