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School attorney hiring will be delayed

Hernando County School Board member Diane Rowden's furor subsided after two fellow board members joined her Wednesday and agreed not to hire a new attorney until a new board is seated in November.

During Wednesday's workshop meeting, the three board members decided to disregard Superintendent Dan McIntyre's proposal to hire a replacement for Joe Johnston by Nov. 10. The board will vote at next week's meeting on hiring an interim attorney.

"Why do something when you don't know what the new board members or the new superintendent wants," Rowden said after the 15-minute meeting. "(Incoming Superintendent Harold Winkler) could come in and undo everything that you've already done."

Rowden, Susan Cooper and Leland McKeown _ board members Nancy Gordon and Paul Clemons were absent _ asked McIntyre on Wednesday to discuss with School Board attorneys from Pasco and Citrus counties whether they would take over Johnston's duties until the new board finds a new legal adviser.

Johnston, who is resigning after 40 years, plans to work only until Nov. 16.

"We agreed (at last week's School Board meeting) we would not hire an attorney (until new board members are seated)," said McKeown, who is retiring from his District 4 seat. "But you don't want to be without an attorney at any time."

Rowden expressed her anger earlier this week about McIntyre's plan, outlined in a memorandum sent to board members late last week. She said it disregarded the board's previous decision to delay hiring an attorney until after two new board members are seated Nov. 17.

McIntyre's memo, dated Oct. 7, said the district would begin advertising this week for a new attorney, and that process has begun. Candidates would have been interviewed between Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, and the new attorney was to begin work Nov. 10.

Cooper said she was in favor of an interim attorney, but she was glad McIntyre's memo accomplished something.

"The main thing is that the start of the advertising has started," Cooper said. Ads went out Monday to area bar associations.