I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Was this a Violation of the Sunshine Law?

Yesterday afternoon and early evening was surreal.  After receiving this email memorandum from the school board's attorney, and after I immediately responded back to the attorney with this email (redacted), my response was copied, by our attorney, to another board member.  (I'm redacting my response to shield my thoughts on how I may vote on the WFHS bus incident.)

I am astonished that our own attorney would copy another board member with my response, which included my thoughts on an incident that will surely come before the board for a vote.  Was this a violation of the Sunshine Law? I'm not an attorney and I don't know for sure, but I have asked our attorney to provide a written memo on this question, post haste.

First off, the initial email that I received with the memorandum was uncalled for, I did not request her opinion, and I did not need her opinion.  What she suggests  in her memo I disavow and disagree with in the strongest terms.  It is borderline libelous.  Nobody can believe, nor has anyone I have spoken with about this disparaging memo ever heard of an attorney excoriating his/her own client in such a written memo.

No phone call, no discretion, just a chastising, chiding, inappropriate memo.

I have done no wrong, and I have violated no laws.  I simply corrected an incorrect narrative that was being told in the PNJ over and over, a narrative that was completely opposite of what I had been told by multiple parents and students with firsthand knowledge of the incident in question.  I have no official knowledge of this incident, I do not know, even to this minute, what these students' eventual punishment will be. I do not know who these students were.  I have no official knowledge of this incident, a point I made clear in every post, blog entry, and comment I have made thus far with respect to this incident.

This memo, by our attorney to her client, was an absolute disaster and is totally baseless.  The only thing I have done here is to counter an ideologically slanted, biased narrative in the press with hearsay of which I was aware that was completely opposite of what hearsay the PNJ was publishing.

  With the father's own testimony on the record now, completely discrediting the PNJ and making them appear foolish, It is quite puzzling to me as to why I would now be chastised.  I stood up and called BS on the slanted yellow journalism.  Jefferson said it best--"Evil flourishes when good men

 and women do nothing."  The PNJ and their biased, slanted, inaccurate narrative and  reporting on this tragic incident was evil.

But here is what is important:

Because I am a member of the school board, I am one part of the client, and our attorney's creating this written memo, badly flawed and accusatory as it is, does not set an example of "jealously advocating for and guarding one's client."  Quite the opposite, this email and written public record created by sending this memo to me appears to be a move promoted from someone other than the client here.

I certainly did not request this memo, and if another person outside of the board requested it--our attorney should have deferred to her client and not created this memo.

If another board member requested her opinion of my conduct----the memo, if it were to be created at all, should have been addressed to this other board member.

This memorandum sent to me unsolicited, was unprofessional and uncalled for, at best.


Thelma said...

Mr. Bergosh, I am of the opinion your counsel gave you sound legal advice. It didn't set well with you because unfortunately nothing does that is a difference of opinion than the one you have. Your posting her letter to you was totally unprofessional on your part. It is very unsettling to hear an elected official who says he only have opinions of other people telling him what happened and he or she takes a stand based solely on someone else's unverified opinion. You indicated that the Superintendent's remarks and the conclusions of the father of the alleged victim were fact when neither one of them were on that bus. I am perplexed over that position since I had the opportunity to sit in on one of the hearings that lasted 2 1/2 hours. In not one of the very numerous statements did anyone including the alleged victim say the victim was targeted because he had a disability. He never claimed he was beaten prior to the "pantsing" incident. The alleged victims on statement contradicts your Superintendent and his father. His father said he knew the night (Thursday 1 Oct 15)of the incident what happened yet he made no move to contact the school. He in fact was contacted by the school late Tuesday which was five days after the incident. Both you and the Superintendent have been on a crusade to with the alleged victims father on radio talk shows, trying to get him interviewed so that he can get his side of the story out. Neither of you were smart enough to realize while you were trying to vilify the character and disparage the credibility of these three young men who were hand picked out of at least thirteen young men to blame for this incident. You were not smart enough to know you were playing right into the hands of the alleged victims fathers. You will now notice the changes in the story first told by the alleged victim. It will start to change to meet the needs of personal injury. You think you know something about the law then I'm sure you should understand there is no personal injury claim unless you suffer personal injury, err goes the lawsuit that I believe you soon will be dealing with filled by the alleged victims father. Unfortunately, you still don't know you are punishing the wrong kids for this mess all of you created. Don't try to make it out to be something that it isn't. Sometimes it is just as the children said ,"we were all just playing around, excited and having fun after our great win". No malice , no intent. The Superintendent was trying to play to the hearts of the community when he got on TV last Friday and said this was a severely handicapped young student, stripped and left on the bus. That lie was an insult to the people in this community we know this victim could not have gotten into WFTH if he was severely disabled or handicapped. The kids own statement said his team mates helped him get dressed after the incident. They also said the alleged victim, his brother and two of his friends started the "pantsing" incident by trying to pants three other team mates before he was actually "Pantsed". The students who were there also said the alleged victim came into the locker room and jumped on his brother (who was on the bust but not a part of the team) for "Pantsing" him. They also said they know two other coaches other than the one who drove the bus saw this fight but did not stop them. The father claims his son was jumped on he might want to address that issue with his other son along with who really pulled the pants off the victim. It all comes right back full circle to the District's responsibility to provide supervision to the students in their care. This has always been their responsibility when our children are left in their care. All of the teacher's in ECSD will tell you they must have 1/10 when taking children anyplace away from their school.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Thelma--you have it badly wrong. That's #1. An attorney that works for a client should NEVER create a memo, a public record, that could potentially damage her client and send it to his/her client unilaterally without being requested to do so BY THE CLIENT (which would never be requested anywhere by anyone, by the way). What happened here is the opposite of what an attorney should do for his/her client. If there was even a hint of a problem with anything I had done, as one part of the client, a phone call, discretely, was what was called for. An excoriating, badly flawed memo copied to multiple other persons which may serve to harm the client by providing fodder for enemies of the client was exactly what was not necessary or appropriate. Nobody I have spoken to, to include several attorneys, can believe what transpired here. They are astonished, as am I. And then to deliberately copy my response to this hatchet-job, borderline libelous memo, which included my thoughts and perceptions about an issue that will surely come before the board for a vote, to another board member was something I have not ever seen happen before in nearly 10 years in this position. Thus, my concern about a potential sunshine law violation. I'm still awaiting my requested memo on this which I will post when I receive it. As to the rest of your points----everything about this issue is hearsay----has been and will be until I get an official briefing and a recommended punishment. It is all hearsay for now. said...

For a smart guy you are really stupid. So you coddled the father of the alleged victim and he said what he wanted to say to foster his "Personal Injury" lawsuit that he is trying to file against the school district. Oh by the way isn't that you? Since I pay your salary I demand that you as a school board member that you have the interest of all students when you speak. I also demand as your employer that you pretend to show some respect. The alleged victim's father has no more information than any one of us. It's hearsay at best it also contradicts everything his son originally said. Whatever happened on that bus should not have happened and would not have happened if the Administrator at that school and her coaching staff cared enough about those children to provide a adult supervision. We are not all stupid and didn't jump off the back of a turnip truck last night. Everyone knows when the wool is being pulled over their eyes. When Malcom Thomas said the District had no policy that said they needed to provide adult supervision after six in the evening was an insult to the intelligence of everyone in this district. Even you should have found that insulting. No policy that requires the district to provide adult supervision has to give a timeframe. Anytime you have the responsibility of our children you have an obligation to provide protective care. They neglected to do that which makes you school board person liable.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Karen, you are glib. That is #1. And you are ignorant, that is #2. (those are neither insults nor attacks, those are what I believe you to be, particularly as it relates to the WFHS bus issue.) Here is a response for you, probably better than I could say myself, courtesy of "Jeffrey Thomas", who wrote this to you in the comments of the October 16th PNJ article in which you were quoted. It is a perfect response to someone like you, someone that hurls insults and attacks people for having opinions that differ from yours. So here is your response, the same one you received back on October 16th and should have followed.... "You are just another person jumping on a issue and don't have a clue. Just a lot of rhetoric. I know you sound intelligent to your friends but stay off social media because it does not translate well to intelligent people." Have a nice Sunday.