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School board says city attorney threatening legal action

Board hired team of attorneys to get potential half-cent tax on ballot

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Even though the Jacksonville City Council voted to withdraw the measure to put a half-cent sales tax on the ballot for now, the plan is drawing fire and Duval County School Board members say the city's top attorney is threatening the board with legal action.

The school board voted 6 to 1 on Wednesday to hire a team of high profile attorneys to get the potential half-cent tax on the 2019 or 2020 ballot.

The news didn't sit well with the city's general counsel who insisted the board "immediately cease and desist from any further engagement" because they aren't authorized to hire attorneys without approval.

Lori Hershey, the school board chair, said the letter from attorney Jason Gabriel threatens board members, saying they could be held personally liable for the actions of hiring the new attorneys.

That move prompted yet another letter from one of the new attorneys, saying at this point they are working for the school board at no cost and that members should not worry about the liability. The legal back and forth is expected to continue.

After a vote Tuesday night to withdraw the half-cent sales tax measure, the council can reintroduce the bill for a vote but that won't happen until next year at the earliest.

DOCUMENT: DCPS Master Plan timeline and phases

The School Board is proposing the half-cent sales tax to provide money to improve security and safety and to upgrade Duval County's aging schools.


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