The Palm Beach County School District Police Chief could be out of his job as chief, if proposed changes by the district's new superintendent are approved.
Contact 5 obtained an email written by current Police Chief Lawrence Leon, sent to all police staff on April 1, where Leon tells fellow officers that the new superintendent, Donald Fennoy is rewriting his (the chief's) job description.
In the email, Leon says he was told on March 29, that the chief position will now be "two levels higher, and be a cabinet position" reporting to the superintendent. Leon added the district "has reached out to organizations to have this position advertised throughout the nation."
Leon continued to tell staff "I was then told I could apply for the position. This means technically I will not get reappointed in my position. If I do not get selected, I was then told that I will have a position in another capacity for as long as I want to stay with the district but not as the same capacity."
In the email, Leon says the chief of HR started the conversation off by saying, "We wanted to bring this to you before you heard this through the rumor mill."
The school district says this proposal is not set in stone, as any proposal will need to be approved by the board. The next school board meeting is scheduled for April 18. A discussion over the chief's position is not currently on the agenda.
When asked for a statement, the Palm Beach County School District provided the memo below, sent to School Board members from Superintendent Fennoy, a day after Leon was told about the new plan.
It says "Under the Governor's new safety legislation, the workforce of the District's School Police Department will nearly double in the next year.
To ensure we have the most comprehensive leadership in place to lead one of the largest School Police Departments in the country and over $40 million of school security improvements, I have directed Human Resources to reclassify the position and utilize a firm specialized in conducting law enforcement searches to identify the best individual to fill the role as Chief of School Police. This process will be open to external and internal applicants.
Student safety and well-being has always been a paramount priority for our District. It is important to align civilian and sworn leadership roles and responsibilities to the complexities of the work ahead of us to secure our campuses and ensure a safe learning environment. I will update you with a timeline for this process once finalized."
Leon's email is below:
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