Florida Sunshine Law Went Dark for Leon County School Meetings

Florida Sunshine Law Went Dark for Leon County School Meetings

After repeated requests by Tallahassee Reports, Leon County Schools finally provided information that indicates that LCS failed to properly follow Florida Sunshine Laws related to 45 agenda review meetings during the period covering January, 2017 to August, 2019.

Specifically, LCS failed to properly produce complete minutes of the meetings and failed to audio record 10 of the 45 meetings.

Superintendent Rocky Hanna, who was elected in late 2016, instituted the agenda review process beginning in 2017. The agenda review meetings involve elected school board members, the superintendent and high level staff. The meetings occur the day before the LCS Business meeting, which is broadcast live.

An in-depth investigation of the 45 meetings, based on information provided by LCS, show the following:

  • none of the 45 meetings have minutes consistent with the Florida Sunshine Law. The Government-In-Sunshine-Manual states the term minutes in the Florida statutes, section 286.01, “contemplates a brief summary or series of brief notes or memoranda reflecting the events of the meeting..”
  • ten of the forty-five meetings were not audio recorded. Due to the lack of meeting minutes, what occurred at these ten meetings between five school board members, the superintendent, and high level LCS employees is not documented.
  • two of the meetings were not noticed on the LCS agenda.

After TR began investigating, LCS implemented changes to the process of memorializing the agenda review meetings beginning in September, 2019. These changes included the production of detailed minutes addressing the content of the agenda review meetings.

Also, on the missing audio recordings, Dr. Michelle Gayle, LCS Assistant  Superintendent, stated in an email to TR that there “were technical malfunctions during these meetings. We have implemented additional back up measures to ensure that we have multiple copies of the audio recordings of these meetings.”

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17 Responses to "Florida Sunshine Law Went Dark for Leon County School Meetings"

  1. Avatar
    Mimi   November 14, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Wow. There are criminal penalties for avoiding the sunshine laws. The governor needs to look into this. Were any of the meetings that were not noticed also not recorded?

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Mark   November 14, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    Rocky Hanna broke the public trust openly violating the sunshine law. He was aided in this violation by the school board members and the school board attorney. The school board attorney attended each of these meetings that violated the public trust.

    Rocky Hanna you are a completely inept leader who promoted your allies, ruined the lived of those who you perceived against you. Rocky and his brother paid a private investigator to follow people around town and to submit doctored photos. Rocky you violated the public trust starting with your actions as a Principal dating teachers on your campus, bulling them into a transfer with a momentary settlement, you falsified information to state and federal authorities, you cost taxpayers over $600,000 with knowingly false allegations.

    Rocky Hanna you should be charged with malfeasance by the Governor.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    Alex   November 14, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    The Supt. and Board do not believe in open government. This school district is in bad shape and governed by incompetent people. The Tall. Democrap used to report on Leon Co. Schools under Supt. Montford and Supt. Pons. They adopted Hanna as their boy and went silent when they realized that Hanna had no skills and total leads his way and in the dark. The School Board knows this, however the Board members know they cannot get re-elected without Hanna’s support. To save our schools we need new leaders. The last chance to save this school system is in 2020.

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Randy   November 14, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    Rocky Hanna you are a disgrace.

    Board members you are either incompetent or ill advised by the Board attorney to not follow the sunshine law.

    The Assistant Superintendents and staff that attend these meeting understood full well that they enabled Rocky Hanna to violate the sunshine law, not once or twice but more than 30 times.

    The school board attorney, Rocky Hanna, the Assistant Superintendents and Board members should resign or be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Ty   November 14, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Please accept these comments as an official whistle blower complaint against Superintendent of Leon Schools Rocky Hanna for willful neglect of official duties by not upholding the intent and legal requirements of the sunshine law. I am requesting an immediate investigation of Rocky Hanna and the school board including the school board attorney.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Observer   November 15, 2019 at 9:36 am

      The school board attorney has never viewed her role as representing the interests of the school board members, she takes her orders from Rocky and his deputies. This is because Rocky pays her fees and if she were to stand up to him she would have no livelihood. He knows that and exploits it. Its a pattern of his to use women for his own needs and cause them professional harm. Think Gwen Graham and the Politico article that came out in the midst of MeToo right before the primary. More recently, look how Rosanne became the face of the ill conceived and obvious misuse of taxpayer funds to hire a PR firm, at the start of the 2020 election season. There are a number of other women, those are just two examples. If you are a woman, Rocky is a career ender. On the plus side for the school board attorney, her husband’s campaign was also run by good friend Sean Pittman. So there is no way a Pittman controlled Board and Superintendent will remove her.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Rosemary N. Palmer   November 18, 2019 at 5:54 pm

        And she shouldn’t: Ms. Mckinney-Williams represents the entity of the school board, not school board members themselves.

        Reply
        • Avatar
          mimi   November 19, 2019 at 9:18 am

          So when she knows and helps school board staff cover up information that could cause liability to school board members or the “school board”, possibly putting them in criminal jeopardy, such as knowingly breaking sunshine laws, its OK? Each school board member could be criminally charged for the sunshine violation as a misdemeanor and then the Governor is free to remove them from office. If she told them it was OK to violate the sunshine law then she needs to lose her law license because lawyers can’t advise their clients to break the law. If she told them it wasn’t OK, and they did it anyway, then they should be held accountable by being charged. Either way, goes back to my point about Rocky using women, either scenario is bad for her career.

          Reply
  6. Avatar
    TG Brown   November 14, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    Trust me, I don’t like these people either but I know there are easily technical issues with equipment. I think there is probably enough low-level witnesses, if you needed them, to tell you if there is anything weird going on in these meetings, but I don’t think these people are that clever, and at the very most (least?) this just just shows incompetency.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Alex   November 15, 2019 at 9:01 am

      At a public meeting of the School Board, City Comm. and Co.Comm. the agenda has an item called “approval of previous meeting minutes”. How could the School Board not recognize that minutes were missing for 30 or more previous meetings?

      Reply
  7. Avatar
    Snidely Whiplash   November 14, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    I wonder how our local Democrat voters that support politicians like those on the School Board feel about this.
    Maybe they feel it’s nothing but a vast right wing conspiracy and will continue to vote for all the next leftists on the ballot.
    Yeah!!!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      TONY   November 15, 2019 at 2:01 pm

      As I have seen and witnessed many times over the past couple of Decades, Most (not all) Democrats just Vote for the Democrat and don’t care about Politics at all.

      Reply
  8. Avatar
    Juanita   November 15, 2019 at 7:52 am

    There was no issue with equipment. There was no equipment in the room. This is a cover-up by Rocky Hanna forcing Michelle Gaiyle to take on the of misleading the public. This used to be Chris Pettley’s job misleading the public, but now since they have a public relations firm they’ve turned to other people. Rocky Hanna has one mission misdirect, misinform and blame others. The only thing Rocky’s ever been good at is going after people with his vendettas. Michelle Gayle, Rocky Hanna is throwing you under the bus. Stand up tell the truth, become a whistleblower for what Rocky did.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Mimi   November 15, 2019 at 9:28 am

      I have to agree. He is throwing Michelle Gayle under the bus. She has a lot more on him than just avoiding the sunshine law. If she talked, it would be bad for him. Also someone lower level had to be in the room during these meetings – maybe they could tell us what was discussed and approved.

      Reply
  9. Avatar
    Kathy   November 15, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    It’s time for investigations and for the incompetent Rocky Hanna to go before the next election. I have heard many folks say he NEVER responds to the community.

    Reply
  10. Avatar
    Kathleen   November 15, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Rocky due the right thing, resign, walk away from the position that you have disgraced. You tenure started with your vendetta against students with disabities uprooting them from school, you enacted a hit promoting your political allies to positions of Assistant Superintendent without interviews. You lied to the community with your notebook, you were a deadbeat father hiding from child support for 10 long years. Please resign. Save us from more embarrassing acts if any are possible beyond making out with teachers on their break in the parking lot of the high school in which you were a principal, or a busing debacle that left hundreds of children stranded or yelling at the top of your lungs at legislators or vilifying people who don’t agree with you. The school board continues to be silent, they are a disgrace as well.

    Reply
  11. Avatar
    Rosemary N. Palmer   November 16, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    These meetings did NOT start with Rocky Hanna. They’ve been going on at least since 1996 or so when I first became aware of them and the late Mr. Danaher turned the light on them. And I attended several when Jackie and Bill Montford were Superintendent.

    Reply

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