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Hillsborough district will hire new lawyer and rule on fired AP

It's not their usual meeting week, but don't tell that to the Hillsborough County School Board.

At 8 a.m. Tuesday the board will meet to hire its own attorney, a new position for the district. Until now, Tom Gonzalez has represented both district, referring some cases out to Barr, Murman and Tonelli; and the seven-member elected board.

The new arrangement will keep Gonzalez in charge of litigation, with the board getting its advice from either Steven Anderson, James Porter or David Singer.

The three were interviewed on Oct. 8.

At 8:30 a.m. there will be a workshop on revised district policies.

Then at 1:30 p.m. five board members will rule on the case of Shawn Livingston, the former assistant principal of Rodgers Middle School. After the accidental death of special-needs student Jennifer Caballero in 2012, district officials investigated and disciplined four employees including Livingston. They offered to return him to a teaching position, but he contested the action, saying he wanted to clear his name; so they fired him.

The district has sought to prove that Livingston failed to take action when a physical education teacher complained that Jennifer's classroom aides were not engaging with the students during gym class. It was that situation, they said, that caused a lapse in supervision. Jennifer, who had Downs syndrome, wandered away, unnoticed, and drowned in a pond behind the school.

Livingston says there were never complaints about inadequate supervision; and that he was contending with other issues during the days between his conversation with the gym teacher and the day of Jennifer's death.

Livingston also says the district failed to respond to safety issues at the school.

Think the board will break for lunch?

If they do, they'll miss the 12:15 p.m. news conference in front of school district headquarters, organized by a group called the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition.

Member groups include the Tampa Tea Party, the Tampa 9/12 Club and the Community Issues Council, which is headed up by board candidate Terry Kemple.

The event is timed to a series of public hearings that the state is holding to answer questions about Common Core, the new curriculum that seeks to align instruction across state lines.

"The idea that the state will subject children to data mining, iris scanning, cataloging, psychological parameters, and much more without the consent from their parents robs mothers and fathers of their parental authority," says the group's announcement.