Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County School Board negotiates with law firm for contract

BROOKSVILLE — After months of consideration, the Hernando County School Board is finally on the verge of hiring new legal counsel.

A unanimous board agreed Tuesday to negotiate with the Pasco County firm of McClain, Alfonso, Meeker & Dunn. The firm has provided legal services to the district on a contract basis since board attorney Paul Carland left last spring to take a job with the Broward school district.

"We've received good service from the Alfonso firm," board member John Sweeney said. "They're like a one-stop shop."

The McClain firm comes with a proven track record, having served as general counsel for the Pasco School Board since 1972 and for the Pasco County clerk of circuit court for more than two decades.

The unanimity was not without reluctance on the part of two board members, though.

The board had solicited applications for both in-house and contract services and narrowed the field to three finalists. The McClain firm offered only outside contract services, as did Denise Lyn, an Inverness attorney with her own practice. Richard Withers of Apopka initially applied for both, but when the board asked all three finalists to provide a proposal, Withers only sought an in-house position.

Board member Dianne Bonfield said she preferred to have an in-house attorney who would be easily accessible to the staff. Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said there have been no problems operating with outside counsel.

Vice Chairman Matt Foreman said he had a preferred applicant, but wanted to enter negotiations with all three finalists to use their counteroffers as leverage to get the best deal.

To do otherwise, Foreman said, "is foolish financially."

But that strategy is based on the premise that the finalists can offer roughly the same level of service, board member James Yant said.

"In my mind, there's a firm that stands out," Yant said.

After Yant, Sweeney and Chairwoman Cynthia Moore indicated a desire to negotiate with the McClain firm, Foreman and Bonfield joined the majority.

The firm has proposed a monthly retainer of $4,950 for 30 hours of attorney time. Beyond 30 hours, the district would pay $165 per hour.

Lyn sought an hourly rate of $160 for the first 15 hours per month and $170 per hour beyond that. She wanted to be paid $175 per hour for litigation services.

Withers had asked for an annual salary of $110,000, about the same amount Carland had been paid, plus health and retirement benefits.

As chairwoman, Moore will lead the negotiations.

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or

Hernando County School Board negotiates with law firm for contract 04/17/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 5:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics


    Winner of the week 1: 'Liquor wall’ proponents. Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a bill to allow Walmart, Target and other big box stores to sell liquor was a victory for an array of groups, from smaller merchants and Publix (which has stand-alone booze shops near its stores) to those who feel the hard stuff …

  2. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  3. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  4. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  5. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.