No sanctions from inquiry for Manatee School Board member Dave 'Watchdog' Miner

jajones1@bradenton.comMay 14, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Manatee School Board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner listened intently Tuesday night as school board attorney Jim Dye addressed a "matter of discomfort and delicacy."

It was the summary of findings prepared by district investigator Troy Pumphrey over a complaint from Barry Dunn, principal of Miller Elementary School, regarding Miner.

Essentially, the report centered on Miner's opposition to the sale of McKelvey Park at Miller Elementary, and Miner's comment at a school faculty meeting that the Miller neighborhood didn't need another retail shopping center. It needs another retail center as much as

"Dolly Parton needed a third breast," Miner said.

Dunn brought the comment to the district office after two employees expressed concern.

Miner subsequently apologized for the comment, but the school district had already launched an inquiry.

Pumphrey's report, dated May 7, said Miner violated district policy prohibiting political activity on school property when he handed out fliers opposing the sale of McKelvey Park.

Dye concluded, however, that even though Miner did advocate for a cause, as an elected school board member he is not subject to discipline by Superintendent Rick Mills.

"I don't believe it goes any further than this," Dye said.

Miner, who was not sanctioned or admonished, reserved comment until the end of the meeting, and blasted Dye for not warning him he planned to present inquiry findings Tuesday.

School board members are not subject to investigations by the superintendent or the Office of Professional Standards, Miner said, calling the inquiry "the tail wagging the dog."

"No investigation should have ever been initiated," Miner said.

Mills and Dye said the inquiry was not an investigation but a legitimate response to employee concerns,

"It wasn't focused on Mr. Miner. It was focused on an incident," Dye said.

Mills acknowledged he has no authority over Miner or any other school board member.

"But we have to respond to complaints by employees," Mills said.

Mills called for the board and the superintendent's office to work together, and put the incident behind them.

"You have my deepest apology and regret that I had to act this way," Mills said.

Miner said he, too, wants to put the incident behind him, but he wants all documents from the inquiry.

"We should be building trust, not mistrust. I would like to think this is behind us," Miner said.

James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter: @jajones1.

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