The Lakeland Ledger has accurately reported that, yesterday the attorneys at Thomas & LoCicero filed a lawsuit against the School Board of Polk County on my behalf.
The lawsuit, my third against the School Board of Polk County, has been filed in response to the School Board’s refusal to comply with Florida’s Public Records Act. Unfortunately, the School Board has rebuffed every effort I have made to avoid litigation.
For example, on July 26, 2012 I sent an email to Drew Crawford of Boswell & Dunlap, the School Board’s outside legal counsel. My email stated:
I have reviewed a number of email exchanges with the School Board of Polk County regarding unresolved public records requests that I have made. Each request was acknowledged by your client and or by you, however, the records have not yet been produced. Some of these requests are many months old. In the interest of avoiding further litigation I[am] asking you to let me know as soon as possible when I might expect the production of these public records.
Frankly, these unreasonable delays are becoming tiresome. I’m not looking for litigation opportunities with the School Board of Polk County, however, they seem to be deliberately provoking litigation.
Once again, I want to make clear that it is my hope that I will never again find it necessary to sue another public agency in Polk County over open government issues. I would much prefer to nurture a collegial relationship with the School Board and work with them on public records and open government issues. Having said that, I also want to be clear that I will exhaust every legal remedy at my disposal to insure their compliance.
Please communicate to your client my desire to resolve all of these issues without further litigation. This, however, needs to happen quickly.”
Mr. Crawford’s response was:
Thanks for the email. I’ll pass this along to the School Board for you.
Very truly yours,
The School Board never replied to my offer to work together to avoid litigation. Their response has been to simply ignore my public records requests and neglect their constitutional and statutory obligations. And so, here we are again. Once more the taxpayers of Polk County will be picking up the tab for the willful misconduct of the leadership of the School Board of Polk County.