Lawyer threatens legal action against Hernando School Board members, says they violated contract with superintendent

Hernando County Superintendent Lori Romano
Hernando County Superintendent Lori Romano
Published June 12, 2018

A lawyer, apparently representing Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano, emailed School Board members Monday night threatening legal action against two of the officials she says violated the top adminstrator's contract with the district.

Drafted by Kathryn McHale, of Kathryn L. McHale, LLC in Palm Beach, the letter states that board members Susan Duval and Beth Narverud have "failed to meet" requirements related to Romano's evaluation over the last four years.

"Several of you have attempted to publicly humiliate and needlessly and irreparably injure the reputation of the Superintendent," McHale wrote. "While you may not agree with her decisions, she is empowered to ensure the education foundations of the children of Hernando County."

Neither Romano or Narverud could be immediately reached by the Tampa Bay Times for comment Tuesday. Duval, however, called the situation "very, very difficult to understand" just before a 2 p.m. School Board workshop.

The letter said both Duval and Narverud have established a "pattern of behavior" in breaching the superintendent's contract, and that Narverud's missteps began when she took office in 2014.

In her first year, McHale said, Narverud "refused after multiple attempts" to set up meetings with the Romano to discuss the superintendent's evaluation, as required by the contract, before the results of the evaluation became public record.

"Unfortunately, the behavior of Narverud has continued throughout her second, third and fourth year as a school board member," the letter said. "Improvement is only gained when the boss of an employee helps them to understand the specific needs for improvement."

McHale said Duval has demonstrated a similar pattern of behavior in failing to meet with the superintendent, as well as in directing school and district staff without notifying the superintendent. She has "repeatedly used public shaming methods," the letter said.

"Not one meeting has been held between Board Member Duval and Dr. Romano," McHale wrote. "The citizens of Hernando County should  not bear the cost of of protracted litigation just because the elected officials do not fulfill the simple duties of an employment contract."

One paragraph of the three-page letter focused on the latest district-wide Superintendent's Performance Survey, also called the 360 survey, which recently went out to employees. McHale called the survey "unreliable," adding that the results, set to be presented to the School Board soon, are "suspect."

The attorney closed the letter with a warning:

"We will pursue all legal avenues of redress in accordance with the contract. Govern yourselves accordingly."

Read the entire letter here.