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Judge: Duval School Board can hire independent counsel in half-cent tax battle

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A judge has sided with the Duval County School Board in its ongoing battle over a sales tax referendum, saying the board has the right to hire its own attorneys to sue the city.

On Wednesday, News4Jax obtained a court order denying the city’s motion to disqualify outside counsel.

READ: Order denying motion to disqualify outside counsel

The School Board and Duval Teachers United filed lawsuits in September 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 representation, it is up to the decision of general counsel.

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

The order reads in part that “the School Board has operated well within the framework of the Charter, maintaining its fundamental independence, while utilizing the intended benefits offered by the consolidated city government.”

The order continued, “This Court’s findings and conclusions do not in any respect unravel the Charter, the consolidated government, or the defining purposes for which consolidation was accomplished.”


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