10-11-2016 Board Workshop - Legal Services

The School Board of Brevard County, Florida met for a Board Workshop on Tuesday, October 11, 2016, at the Educational Services Facility, 2700 Judge Fran Jamieson Way, Viera, Florida to discuss legal services. Notice of the meeting was advertised in the Eagle newspaper on Thursday, September 29, 2016. The affidavit of publication with a copy of the ad attached is filed in the Affidavit File in the Board Office.

Opening Exercises
1. Opening Exercises

Minutes: Chairman Andy Ziegler called the meeting to order at 2:01 p.m.

Roll Call
2. Roll Call

Minutes: Members Present:  Misty Belford, John Craig, Amy Kneessy, Karen Henderson and Andy Ziegler

Pledge of Allegiance
6. Pledge of Allegiance

Minutes: Chairman Ziegler led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Order of Business
3. Legal Services
Attachment: Legal Review Model - PDF.pdf
Attachment: Legal Services Model - Attachments.pdf

Chairman Ziegler turned the meeting over to the superintendent.  Dr. Blackburn began the presentation. He explained that they had invited Mr. Woody Rodriguez, General Counsel from Orange County Public Schools, to answer questions.

Following Dr. Blackburn's presentation, Mr. Rodriguez provided some information to the Board regarding the positive benefits of having an in-house attorney. He provided some details regarding his background and how the legal responsibilities in Orange County Public Schools had evolved.  They currently have seven attorneys on staff and four administrative/paralegals.  

Board members asked questions about raises and the evaluation process. The members also asked how Orange County outsourced counsel.  Mr. Rodriguez said they did an RFP broken down by practice areas. Mr. Craig asked Mr. Rodrigues for his professional opinion on whether or not one person could handle Brevard County.  Mr. Rodriguez replied that Brevard could start with one and go from there.

Mr. Ziegler asked Dr. Blackburn if he had totaled up the number of hours over the course of the year that Mr. Bistline has provided.  He wanted to know if we would be increasing or decreasing our capacity and whether or not we would achieve greater efficiency.  He also asked how we safeguard again losing institutional knowledge. 

Mrs. Henderson wanted to know what the initial cost of setting up a law library would be.  Mr. Rodriguez explained that they don't have a law library per say, but they pay for legal subscriptions.

Mr. Ziegler said that he wants to see an estimated budget of what it would cost to get everything set up for an internal person inclusive of facilities and support staff.

Mr. Rodriguez had to leave at 3:17 p.m. in order to make it back to his school district for the board meeting.

Mrs. Henderson asked Dr. Blackburn what problem  they trying to solve by recommending in house counsel.  To that point Dr. Blackburn expressed that he was following the Board's wishes from his evaluation to make a recommendation. 

Mr. Craig felt the problem is that BPS does not have an internal legal department and that a great disservice is being done to the organization.

Mrs. Belford commented that the reasons to look at a different model are not about Mr. Bistline, but to determine what is best for the district. She said that we need to measure the efficiencies that would be gained. She said that we need to have legal representation at all times.

Mrs. Kneessy expressed that she and Mr. Bistline have had a very good working relationship over the past 12 years and since she is leaving in November, she feels it will be best for the new Board member to be part of the discussion and decision.

Mrs. Belford asked to see a clear request of what they want to see so they can make a decision and a timeline of when that decision is to be made.

During the discussion, there was mention of a transition period so that valuable institutional knowledge would not be lost.  Mrs. Henderson agreed that there definitely needs to be a transition period.  She said that a plan needs to be presented, along with the process  and an outline of exactly what the in-house person would be doing.  She said there are not enough answers to make a decision.

Mr. Craig asked about a timeline and when onboarding would happen following advertising for an in-house person. Dr. Kindt responded that it would take at least three to four months.  Mr. Craig said that we need to start moving forward now.

Mr. Zieler stated that he wants to know what we are looking at budget wise. A defined plan should be brought to the table.  He said that the expense needs to be approved before the new Board before moving forward.

Dr. Blackburn asked for clarification of what was expected.  The direction provided by the Board is to bring back a plan with budget expenses toward the end goal of hiring internal legal counsel.  


Closing Remarks
4. Closing Remarks

5. Adjournment

Minutes: Chairman Ziegler adjourned the meeting at: 3:54 p.m.

There is no posted video feed of this meeting due to technical difficulties.