DCPS Board fights for outside counsel in half-cent sales tax battle

Monday's hearing was so well attended it had to be moved

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Legal counsel representing the Duval County Public School Board and Duval Teachers United and the legal counsel representing the City of Jacksonville met Monday for a hearing to address whether or not the School Board has the right to hire outside legal counsel.

The hearing was so well attended, it had to be moved from a meeting room to a court room inside the Duval County Courthouse. 

This follows the school board and Duval Teachers United filing lawsuits last month on the City’s refusal to put a half-cent sales tax to improve school facilities on a referendum for voters.  

Attorneys for the City argued the school board is a constituent of the City of Jacksonville and has been for 50 years since the charter was formed and therefore, if the school board wants outside counsel, it is up to the decision of general counsel. The attorneys argued you don’t get to sue yourself.  

The defense spoke for an hour before attorneys for the school board spoke for 30 minutes.  

They argued there is nothing in the charter that states the school cannot hire outside counsel. The lead counsel for the school board called the situation hypocritical, claiming other city entities have outside legal counsel. There was a lot of back and forth about consolidation of 1968.   

“It was interesting to hear both sides of the argument, particularly as it applied to the city charter and what role it has in the city charter and the obligation the school board has and how we can best function within the city charter or the state constitution,” DCPS Board Chairwoman Lori Hershey said. 

The judge promised to get another hearing on November’s docket.

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