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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Who sets policy? The School Board (according to the board's attorney)



The firm advising the Pasco School Board on its policy manual overhaul has tried to convince the board that the superintendent holds the key to creating or changing any district policy. Dissatisfied, board members asked their own lawyer for his input.

After a review of Florida statute (particularly this one), board attorney Dennis Alfonso has told the Gradebook that he'll be suggesting changes to the proposed rule that has board members irate. Setting policy is a "board function," he said, and "the superintendent is not the only voice."

"That's not complicated legal theory," Alfonso said. "It's basic statutory right."

At issue is one sentence in the proposed policy changes: "Policy shall not be originated or changed without the recommendation of the superintendent."

At the very least, Alfonso said, the "shall" needs to be replaced with "should" — something board members have called for at more than one workshop, only to see their edit disappear in drafts that followed. But the board should not adopt the language without revision, he asserted.

"I would have a problem with the board implementing a policy binding themselves to that," he said. "God bless 'em if they want to. But I wouldn't recommend it."

A spokeswoman for the superintendent's office said the administration is also reviewing the proposal and expects to have suggestions for new language before the next board workshop on the policy manual. She said the administration never sought to recommend any procedures or rules that violate basic statutory roles.


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:31am]


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