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Janssen on attorney conflict: 'News to us'



You might have heard about growing tensions between Superintendent Julie Janssen and Pinellas County school board attorney Jim Robinson.

The situation seemed to be getting bad enough, that board members raised concerns three weeks ago during an open discussion of Janssen's job performance.

But when the board convened during a workshop Thursday to, among other things, discuss superintendent-attorney relations, Janssen told board members they were working it out themselves.

"Really and truly," Janssen said, "it was news to us that we were ever having a tift."

Board members appeared relieved that the two sides were talking about how best to organize the attorney's office without their public guidance. But when chair Carol Cook prepared to take the matter off the agenda, board member Robin Wikle pressed for just a few minutes to be able to pose several questions she wants the two sides to agree upon.

Among them: Who on the administrative team can talk to the attorney? Is Janssen satisfied with the assistance she's getting? How will legal advice be communicated to the board? And how will it be communicated to the leadership team?

Janssen took notes as Wikle spoke. "Great questions," she said after Wikle finished.

Robinson said those questions were among the things he and Janssen discussed in a meeting on Wednesday. He said they both "share a mutual optimism" that the matters will be resolved.

"I don't think this is an organizational issue," he said. "It's a people issue. It's a relationship issue...I can say that virtually all of the problems I can think of would have been avoided with earlier communication."


[Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2011 3:54pm]


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