BOLO: Jeff, Jeptha, Jepthah, Jephthah

Trails in the Sand by Peter Traciet, the Street Detective

The Detective has a magnifying glass in one hand and a lie detector test in the other.  The Street Detective has been dragging the sands in search of a high school diploma or some sort of transcript that verifies that District 5 Board member, Jeff Holness actually graduated from Dillard High School. Holness has stated publicly and had it printed on his campaign material that he is a class of 1988 Dillard Panther. Anyone who questions his authenticity and allegiance to the Blue and Gray Nation gets a tight jaw and the Ms. Celie, three-finger curse from Holness.  Yet, he attended a class reunion for Manchester High School in Jamaica. These contradictions have set Ol ‘ Pete on an expedition.

As Pete carefully excavated sand, it was first discovered that Holness’ first name is Jeptha, not Jeff. Clearing up the name didn’t clear the mud from the path.  Ol’ Pete went digging in search of clues that might uncover some truths simply from researching the name, Jeptha.

Jephthah (another spelling variation of Jeptha) appears in the Bible’s Old Testament as a judge who presided over Israel for six years.  Do not get ahead of yourself in the dirt. Detective Traceit dug up that Board member Jeff’s time on the Board will be halted at two.

Jephthah was a warrior who led soldiers into battle to defeat the Ammonites. Ol’ Pete is wondering when Board member Jeff will live up to leadership as demonstrated by his namesake.  Board member Jeff, as we all have seen thus far, follows the leadership of Oz.

Jephthah promised God that if he helped him to defeat the Ammonites, he would give God a sacrifice of the first thing he laid his eyes on when returning from battle. The first thing Jephthah saw upon defeating the Ammonites and returning home was his only daughter. Jepthah was so anguished by this that he tore off his clothes in grievous despair. Biblical scholars are divided on whether Jephthah’s utterance was a selfish sacrifice or a foolish vow.  Board member Jeff has yet to demonstrate a selfless sacrifice or foolish vow to District 5, particularly to schools in the Dillard Zone. He claims he is a Dillard Panther, but the Real Panthers are reporting he appears scared to immerse himself into the schools situated in the 33311. Unless, of course, he is accompanied by the ruler of the Land of Oz.

Jephthah’s family considered him illegitimate.  He was rejected by his family and went off to live with scoundrels. Might this parallel to Board member Jeff’s illegitimacy as a Dillard Panther? Did he ever actually walk the halls of DHS? Holness cannot be found anywhere in the class of 1988 yearbook. His senior portrait is missing, and he is nowhere in student life pictures and captions. Traceit cannot find a trace of anyone from the class of 1988 who knows or remembers him. The Detective is digging deep in the sand in search for remnants of the Class of 1988 graduation program that lists the roll call of students. Peter Traceit talked to dozens from the class of 1988, and no one remembers Jeff, Jeptha, Jephtha, or Jephthah Holness.  Spell it like you like, no one from the class of 1988 can recall Holness.

Could Holness be telling a big Pinocchio about where he graduated from? Traceit is hearing rumors that he may have attended Dillard for a short while, but actually graduated from a school in Jamaica. What really has The Street Detective scratching is that even if Holness attended and graduated from Dillard, how disconnected is he that no one knows or recalls him? This disconnection would explain how he could spend his first day on the dais outlining how Vickie Cartwright is not a racist while claiming he had never spoken to her. It would explain how he could bring an item forward on his first day on the Board to reinstate an already three times ousted Superintendent. It would explain how he went to great lengths to give Cartwright numerous perks in her mutual settlement agreement but sought to decrease perks to Dr. Earlean Smiley’s interim superintendent contract. It would explain how he could vote against Dr. Earlean Smiley’s and Dr. Valerie Wanza’s appointments though he knows both of them from his teaching days in Broward where they all were active members of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE). It would explain how Holness was Casper the Ghost on Friday for the NABSE Leadership Conference at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center. Traceit is told he takes his direction. from the Land of Oz and he probably hasn’t gotten permission to attend.

After days and weeks of digging, it is still unclear if Holness graduated from Dillard. What is crystal clear is he has left no significant prints in the sand that detail a significant presence if he was ever there.

Traceit continues to trace clues in the sand as Holness is seriously intriguing. Who is this character Jeptha Holness?  Is he the George Santos of Broward schools? Santos, a Republican US Congressman, admitted he lied about graduating from Baruch College, being of Jewish descent and working for companies like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Will Holness’ tales measure up to Santos’?  Did he really attend and graduate from The Dillard High School? Holness claims he lives in District 5, yet his children attend school in Board Chair Alhadeff’s District 4.

Traceit’s sources say that Holness claims to be using the children’s mother’s address, yet those details are muddy and dirty. Ol’ Pete is wondering if the school has required Holness and his children’s mother to provide lease agreement information and sent school representatives to his home and the home of the children’s mother to verify homestead exemption and where each parent resides as well as where the children reside daily. Is this a Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School practice, Parkland schools practice or District 4 practice?  Or is it a practice targeted at “some”? Ol’ Pete is thinking that what’s good for one family should be good for another.  Pete’s digging has exposed some dirty details that are saved for later. Traceit is thinking that a Board member probably should send his children to a school in the district he serves as a show of confidence to his constituents.

The more Pete digs, the dirtier this situation gets.  Rest assured Ol’ Pete will continue dragging the sands in search of clues and answers.  Stay tuned.

About Carma Henry 22057 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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