Wednesday, May 11, 2016

School Board Approves Reorganization Without Legal Department

Brevard County School Board Member John Craig

UPDATE: 

On May 10, 2016, the Brevard County School Board voted 5-0 to pass a new organizational structure without including a legal department. Board members agreed to hold a workshop at a later date to determine where a legal department would fit into the organizational structure.




PREVIOUS STORY:

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida - Despite concerns raised by Brevard County School Board Member John Craig about the absence of a legal department, and the Brevard Public Schools administration's recent history of costly legal missteps, a revised organizational chart that will be presented by BPS Superintendent Dr. Desmond Blackburn at the May 10, 2016 School Board meeting still does not include a legal department at the higher echelons of BPS decision-making.



On April 26, 2016, Dr. Blackburn presented an organizational chart to School Board members which outlined the restructuring of administrative staff for the 9,000+ employee organization.

Under the new organizational structure, senior leadership would be reduced from eleven positions to ten. The previous structure included three associate superintendents, seven assistant superintendents, and two directors. The proposed structure will consist of two deputy superintendents and eight assistant superintendents. 

While Craig commended most of Dr. Blackburn's organizational restructuring, the absence of a legal department raised eyebrows.


Brevard County Public Schools New Organizational Chart

"The one thing that I did question - I think was during one of our one-on-ones - is where legal fit into this," Craig said to Dr. Blackburn. "It's not in the organizational chart. Yet, the staff interacts with legal. So my concern  is that we do not have legal - a legal department or a legal "block" - whether that has anybody in it or not. How that interaction happens. I think to me, is an organizational question mark. And I guess I come back to the Board and say: How do we make sure that we continue to give the Superintendent and the organization the legal tools they need to succeed?" 

"This question has nothing to do with individuals, but how we are going to address it," Craig continued. "The fact that we don't have a legal - anything legal - on an organizational structure of this size of a corporation and this size of a business is very concerning to me ... I think we really need to make sure we are covering our bases with a robust legal presence that is accessible at all times for the staff inside of this organizational structure."

Craig's concerns were made in the wake of the software scandal where Brevard Public Schools improperly paid $4.33 million on a no-bid software contract to Education Data Resources (EDR) in 2014-15. A later audit discovered that the multi-million dollar contract had never been reviewed by an attorney.

More recently, a no-smoking policy instituted by BPS in January 2016 drew repeated criticism on the conservative radio talk show Bill Mick Live. Specifically, the BPS policy included non-tobacco e-cigarettes on school property - and smoke-free zones for non-students during off-property school functions - which, after some legal research, Craig said exceeded the school board's statutory authority regarding tobacco regulation. The Board then directed BPS's contracted attorney, Harold Blistine, to review the policy and applicable law two months after the policy had already been in place.

Brevard County Public Schools Original Organizational Chart

Photo credit: BPSTV image still