Jackie Pons Ponders Lawsuit

Jackie Pons Ponders Lawsuit

After the US Attorney issued a statement saying the investigation into the Leon School Board and Jackie Pons had ended without charges, Pons talked to Tallahassee Democrat reporter Jeff Burlew.

Burlew asked Pons what his next steps were with regards to the infamous notebook.

Pons said he wants to get the truth out.

“Does that mean a lawsuit?” asked Burlew.

“We’re keeping all of our options open on everything,” Pons said. “There’s a lot of interest in this now that people are realizing that this stuff is not true. Obviously, there’s some responsibility.”

Ironically, one of the possible targets in a lawsuit would be the Tallahassee Democrat.

Here’s why.

Two of the wilder accusations that have originated from the local reporting surrounding the Leon County School District over the last four years includes a $30,000 boat the district supposedly paid for and a Jackie Pons DUI.

A Boat Purchase and a DUI

Like most rumors, it is hard to tell exactly where they get started.

On June 18, 2014 Tallahassee Democrat Reporter Jeff Burlew submitted a public records request to the Leon County School Board that asked for “copies of any emails, memos, receipts, purchase orders and any and all other documentation involving the purchase of a boat by the school district.”

On June 19, 2014,  at 8:30 AM the Tallahassee Democrat published an article that reported accusations made in a lawsuit against the Leon County School Board and Superintendent Jackie Pons.

The following section was published in the Democrat:

The lawsuit says Nichols also was asked about whether she knew anything about a boat or beach house or rumors of a DUI crash involving Pons and a district vehicle. Nichols responded by saying she’d heard about a purchase by the district of a boat for $30,000 but that it wasn’t properly authorized. She also said her daughter’s best friend worked at a body shop where Pons had taken a district vehicle and that he’d paid for the repairs out of his own pocket to avoid an invoice to the district.

Through public record requests, Tallahassee Reports has learned that Tallahassee Democrat reporter Jeff Burlew had in his possession, on June 19 at 4:56 pm,  information that did not substantiate accusations about a boat purchase in the article made against Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons.

The information provided by the school district is provided in an email below. Click image to enlarge.

BURLEWREQUEST

The information in the above email clearly shows the accusation about the boat purchase was not supported by any public documents.

However, for whatever reason, Mr. Burlew did not wait for the information from the School Board before publishing the accusation about the boat.

In fact, Mr. Burlew has yet to publish the findings provided in the above public records request.

In addition, the accusation that Pons had a DUI in a School District vehicle could have been easily verified by checking with local law enforcement officials.

Was it Mr. Burlew’s responsibility to provide the information?

Was it the responsibility of the Tallahassee Democrat to ensure fairness and address omissions of facts?

The American Society of News Editors states that:

Every effort must be made to assure that the news content is accurate, free from bias and in context, and that all sides are presented fairly. Editorials, analytical articles and commentary should be held to the same standards of accuracy with respect to facts as news reports. Significant errors of fact, as well as errors of omission, should be corrected promptly and prominently.

Sources close to Pons tell TR he will make a decision about possible legal action in the coming months.

Check back for updates to this report.

19 Responses to "Jackie Pons Ponders Lawsuit"

  1. News Maven   September 25, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    The next sentence of that section on ASNE standards probably reads:
    “But if you work for a Gannett paper, forget everything above.”

    Reply
  2. Brad   September 26, 2018 at 12:59 am

    Rocky lost me with capital anti gun thing. Hell can’t believe anything or can you? Too many lies going around….

    Reply
  3. We Need to Know   September 26, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Current School Board Chair, Alva Striplin, bought into the false notebook, served as a mole for Hanna while on the board and asked questions that Hanna wanted asked during these discussions. She voted for spending $600,000 to investigate the notebook when she knew the allegations were false. She also criticized Pons for his campaign donations from construction companies, the same companies that have donated to her campaign.
    Furthermore, she advocated a “relationship” policy after the Gilchrist incident when she herself had questionable relationships with school district employees. Hypocrisy at it’s best.

    All of this for political cover. We, the voters, will hold her accountable in November and Hanna will have to wait two years, but rest assured, his day is coming too.

    Reply
  4. alex   September 26, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    It is sad what happened to Supt. Pons. Lies can destroy lives. Look at what is going on in Washington. Pons should file suit against Leon Co School Board and their attorney. They knew Hanna’s book was false and they spent $600,000 anyway. They worked with the FBI and the US District Attorney to investigate Pons. Also, do not forget the former US Attorney was hired by the Ausley Law Firm that represents the School Board.

    Reply
    • Mark   September 27, 2018 at 11:04 pm

      Rocky Hanna told staff in Leon County he took the notebook to the FBI on the advice of his attorney. Who was his “attorney” ? The conspiracy that moves from Rocky to those also involved will be brought out in affidavits. I would think either the School Board would take action against Mr. Hanna or perhaps Mr. Hanna would resign. When the Hanna “hit list” is made public more lawsuits will follow. It took years but the truth is coming out.

      Reply
  5. Molly   September 26, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    Jackie should sue big time. Let all these folks have many sleepless nights.

    Reply
  6. Marion   September 27, 2018 at 1:35 am

    It is time someone “outed” all the shenanigans at LCS. The vindictive nature has created a work environment of fear, distrust and anxiety among the employees.

    Reply
    • Mimi   September 27, 2018 at 10:04 am

      Don’t forget, they go after parents too. They use children as a weapon for intimidation. Its more than just political campaigns or employment issues. Someone should do a public records request for the legal invoices. There are many families that have to get lawyers to make them do the right thing – lots of different stories, people of different backgrounds, always a child getting hurt. Rather than protecting children, they spend legal monies to hurt them in the name of “protecting” LCS staff.

      Reply
  7. Mark   September 27, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    An open request to the members of the Leon County School Board to file charges against Rocky Hanna for unethical professional behavior per Rule 6A-10.081, Florida Administrative Code, Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida.

    Rocky Hanna has ADMITTED to the School Board Attorney, Hank Coxe the following:
    1. Rocky Hanna admitted on the record he had no first hand knowledge of any wrongdoing by Superintendent Pons.
    2. Rocky Hanna admitted he gathered many of the documents himself that placed in the notebook.
    3. Rocky Hanna admitted he wrote the false and misleading summaries in the notebook.
    4. Rocky Hanna admitted he circulated the notebook.

    These are unethical behaviors that break Rule 6A-10.081, Florida Administrative Code, Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida.

    In a new lawsuit it has been brought to the forefront the lawsuit states that Rocky Hanna had a “hit list.” Everyone on the “hit list” list was non renewed as a part of a political vendetta by Rocky Hanna.

    I hope that everyone on the “hit list” along Mr. Pons sues Rocky Hanna.I also hope that Mr. Pons and any individual on the “hit list” also sue the Tallahassee Democrat for the one side bias reporting that has harmed each individual.

    Reply
  8. James   September 27, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Somebody ask or interview Jeff Burlew and former reporter Amana Curcio about the inside information they gave Rocky Hanna about the Pons campaign and the people who supported him.

    Reply
  9. Valerie   September 28, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Basically this was a smear campaign orchestrated by Rocky Hanna supported by the lack of journalistic responsibility and ethics of the Tallahassee Democratic.

    I hope the citizens of Leon County attend the next school board meeting to request they hold Rocky Hanna accountable. I hope Steve Stewart interviews each school board member asking them why they refuse to hold Rock Hanna accountable after he admitted he gathered the documents, had no knowledge of wrongdoing, he admitted he wrote the misleading summaries in each section of his notebook.

    Please contact your school board members and request accountability. Hanna cost the district over $600,000 on his notebook wild ride He can claim policies were changed because of him…hey Rocky policies are changed every year on a variety of issues. You also caused a new policy: No dating teachers you evaluate and supervise.

    Do the right thing Rocky, RESIGN!

    Reply
  10. Billy   September 29, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Rocky, having your childhood friend who is a middle school principal call district administrators and school administrators during the election to let them know if they didn’t calm down with their support for superintendent Pons the message was “Rocky will remember you after the election if he wins.” Can’t wait for the rest of the TRUE story to be told. Mr. Vendetta Hanna, Superintendent of Leon County Schools.

    Reply
  11. DavidB   September 30, 2018 at 8:24 am

    This is Tallahassee. Nothing will happen. The Democrats in this area will not eat their own, outside of extraordinary circumstances. I fear this is not remarkable enough to generate a response. I doubt Pons will sue.

    It’s sad, that the right thinking members of our community have to put up with this garbage.

    Reply
    • Tj Prosecutor   September 30, 2018 at 10:00 am

      When Hanna sent knowingly false and misleading information to state and federal authorities he opened himself to a federal offense of falsifying information to start a federal inquiry, believe me a lawsuit will follow. Rocky does not get away with trying to destroy a persons reputation without legal consequences.

      Reply
      • DavidB   October 1, 2018 at 8:43 am

        That would be great, but I am not holding my breath, just as I do not have much faith in the FBI investigation doing any real damage to Gillum. Dark times approach for Florida.

        Reply
  12. Lisa   September 30, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Not only should Jackie Pons sue for slander and defamation, EVERYONE on the Hanna ” hit list” should sue!

    Rocky Hanna 5 words of advice – Resignation Or Consequences Karma Yeah!

    Reply
    • Mim   September 30, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      There could be a class action. Pons might consider going that route.

      Reply
  13. alex   September 30, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Hanna will never resign. He lives on his ego and getting his way. The School Board will never challenge him or hold him accountable. After the election in Nov. watch for a “love fest” between the school board and Hanna.

    Reply
    • Martin   September 30, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      It is imperative that Tallahassee Reports publishes a response to the facts by each school board member.

      Facts as entered into the school board records by the attorney Hank Coxe hired by the school board:
      1. Rocky Hanna admitted on the record he had no first hand knowledge of any wrongdoing by Superintendent Pons.
      2. Rocky Hanna admitted he gathered many of the documents himself that he placed in the notebook.
      3. Rocky Hanna admitted he wrote the false and misleading summaries in the notebook.
      4. Rocky Hanna admitted he circulated the notebook.

      Reply

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