Manatee County school board approves contract for new attorney

eearl@bradenton.comJune 25, 2013 

MANATEE -- The Manatee County School Board unanimously and swiftly approved the contract for its new law firm Dye, Deitrich, Petruff and St. Paul of Bradenton at a special workshop Monday afternoon.

"It was an attractive proposal and was superior to what the other proposals have looked like," said school board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner, who compared the contract from the firm with negotiations from other districts' school board attorneys.

The Manatee County School Board selected its newest legal representation after a round of interviews with three other firms.

Dye, Deitrich and Petruff drafted the contract Thursday and, after a few adjustments, the school board approved it.

The school board approved a reduction in the firm's

standard hourly rate from $185 to $165.

The motion made by Miner passed 4-1, with only Julie Arnaibar, school board vice chair, voting no.

Aranibar said she does not support lowering the hourly fee because the district was already receiving a lower rate from the attorneys. Dye, Deitrich and Petruff verbally accepted the contract with the changes.

Miner also suggested the school board pay membership dues for the Florida School Board Attorneys Association and its seminars. Miner said the school board should cover seminar registrations and any necessary overnight stays for one attorney.

As is standard for the other school district employees, the attorney will also receive mileage and meal reimbursement.

"We want to encourage attendance from Manatee County at these seminars," Miner said. "We would not be paying for time spent at the seminars."

School board member Bob Gause agreed, adding that the school board should limit the seminar costs to one attorney and also limit the contract provisions to in-state travel only.

The motion to pay for dues and seminar expenses carried 5-0.

The firm begins as the school board attorney Sunday when school board attorney John Bowen officially retires Sunday.

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

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