Manatee School Board selects 4 attorney interviews

eearl@bradenton.comJune 4, 2013 

MANATEE -- The Manatee County School Board will select outside counsel soon to avoid being without legal services when school board attorney John Bowen retires June 30.

The board is now one step closer as Monday afternoon it approved four candidates to interview next Monday.

Blalock Walters of Bradenton; Kendra Presswood, Dye, Deitrich of Bradenton; Petruff & St. Paul PL of Bradenton; and Lewis, Longman & Walker PA of Bradenton are the four candidates.

Four of seven candidates met the deadline to be considered. One bidder did not follow the instruction of submitting a sealed bid.

"They didn't comply with the specific instructions, then we do not include them," school board member Bob Gause said. "We have other firms to consider."

School board vice chairwoman Julie Aranibar agreed there should be no straying from policies and procedures.

"That is how we got off the path in the past," Aranibar said.

Gause disclosed Lewis, Longman & Walker; Dye, Dietrich Petruff & St. Paul; and Blalock Walters all contributed to his school board campaign.

School board Chairwoman Karen Carpenter said Clifford Walters III of Blalock Walters has provided

pro-bono services for Take Stock in Children, but that did not personally benefit her.

"What are we doing to ensure there is no prejudice in this?" school board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner said. "We are trying to get the best attorney we can."

Gause said candidate knowledge of education law is one of the most important attributes to consider.

"There are negotiations, fees and other things that are not black and white on paper," Miner said. "I would just as soon not rank them."

Rather than ranking their own top candidates, school board members agreed to interview four although the request for quotations said only three would three would be interviewed.

The candidates will come in at 3 p.m. Monday for the interview. One candidate may interview via Skype.

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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