BRADENTON -- The Manatee County School District is set to award $21,000 to Michael Barfield in a public records settlement.
Barfield sued the school district in 2013 after officials failed to comply with his public records request. The district won the initial trial, but lost an appeal.
The board is expected to award Barfield $21,626 to cover attorney fees under the consent agenda at Tuesday night's regularly scheduled meeting.
The Florida Public Records Act requires government agencies to pay reasonable attorney fees and costs if a citizen has to go to court to receive public records. Once the settlement is paid, Barfield agrees to dismiss his motion for fees now pending in circuit court.
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"This reduced amount includes both fees and costs and, if agreed to, will settle the case," school board attorney James Dye said at a briefing in July.
The agreement settles all issues related to the case and is intended to close the matter, according to the agenda. Money for the settlement was included in the 2014-15 budget, according to the agenda.
In March 2013, Barfield made a written public records request via email for
an unredacted version of a document titled: "School Board of Manatee County, List of Current/Pending Closed Cases."
Barfield asked the school board to explain in writing any exemption it claimed for redactions to the document. On March 28, 2013, the school board provided Barfield with the requested record with numerous redactions, according to an appeals court opinion filed April 11.
Barfield has since been given the records.
"Why do taxpayers have to suffer when a court finds that staff wrongfully withheld public records? The individuals should be made to pay, not taxpayers," Barfield said in an email about the case.
The Barfield item is one of 23 on the consent agenda, with expenditures totaling more than $5.3 million. Unless a board member moves the item from the consent agenda, it is approved without discussion.
The biggest expense expected to be approved will be a $2.5 million renewal contract on gasoline, diesel and biodiesel. All vendors have agreed to renew bids for the second and final renewal through Oct. 8, 2015, according to the agenda.
The bid is recommended for renewal to J.H. Williams Oil Co. Inc. in Tampa, and SSI Lubricants LLC in Winter Haven. The contract ensures a fixed fee per gallon.
The board is also set to renew contracts with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office for school resource officers in district middle and high schools.
The sheriff's office provides seven officers to high schools, including one sergeant, two deputies at Horizons and one deputy each at Lakewood Ranch, Braden River, Southeast and Bayshore.
Manatee High is covered by the Bradenton Police Department and Palmetto High is covered by the Palmetto Police Department.
Posting officers at the high schools costs nearly $800,000, according to the agenda. The school board shall reimburse the sheriff $399,978 or 50 percent of the yearly cost.
The sheriff's office provides six deputy sheriffs for the middle school SRO program, according to the agenda. One will be assigned to King, Lee, Harllee, Johnson and Buffalo Creek middle schools. One deputy will be assigned to split time between Nolan, Haile and Braden River middle schools, according to the agenda.
Sugg Middle is covered by Bradenton Police Department and Lincoln Middle is covered by Palmetto Police Department.
The middle school SRO program costs $456,218 and the total annual cost will be covered by the district, according to the agenda.
A third contract -- $102,488 with the sheriff's office -- will fund a SRO at Manatee Technical Institute. The district is set to cover the cost in quarterly installments.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.