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LW Charter School Board Facing Lawsuit Over Dismissal of Superintendent

Board Will Consider Options At July 22 Meeting

With the threat of a "long, expensive, and distracting" lawsuit looming, the Lake Wales Charter School board will have an opportunity to reconsider their June 7 decision to summarily fire Superintendent Dr. Wayne V. Rodolfich "for cause," according to an attorney representing him.

Courtesy LWCS

In this screen shot from the video stream on the meeting, attorney Kemp Brinson addressed the charter school board while his client, former Superintendent Dr. Wayne V. Rodolfich, observes from the audience seating behind him.

The board agreed without objection to place the issue on their July 22 agenda after hearing from attorney Kemp Brinson, who is representing Rodolfich.

Brinson, in a special presentation that was the only agenda item in a 27-minute meeting Thursday afternoon, told the school board that he was speaking in a "pre-adversarial" role to attempt to avoid bringing the matter to the courts.

"A for-cause termination is only available in very specific situations that are outlined in the contract," Brinson said.

"There is also a process for that termination," he added, including written notice of the charges and an opportunity for an informal hearing to address those charges.

The board, he said, had failed to comply with the terms of that contract, as well as Florida's "Government in the Sunshine" law by failing to publicly reveal the details in one or more anonymous "grievances" filed by another school employee.

Not only had there been no public airing of the allegations, Brinson said, Rodolfich has never been informed of the details or been given any opportunity to respond to them, in violation of his contract.

The board, Brinson added, did not even wait for the completion of the investigation, which had been conducted by Terin Cremer of the Barbas Cremer law firm. Cremer had conducted one-on-one private meetings with each member of the board prior to their June 7 vote to fire Rodolfich.

At stake in the matter is both any severance pay that would be due to Rodolfich, as well as his reputation in the educational field where he has earned accolades as an administrator.

Brinson said that Lake Wales Charter Schools had no established policies or procedures for dealing with the situation, but that "obligations imposed by the Florida Sunshine statutes require you to do your business in the open, and not behind closed doors."

No member of the board chose to respond to Brinson's statement at the meeting.

School board attorney Robin Gibson, who had introduced Brinson, informed the board that, without objection, he would continue to discuss the matter with Brinson in search of an amicable resolution.

The July 22 meeting of the board will begin with a work session at 4 p.m., followed by a formal meeting at 5:30.

Rodolfich has led the seven-school charter district since July 2022 after a year-long hunt ended in his hiring in March of that year. He came to Lake Wales after leading a school system at Pascagoula, in coastal Mississippi, where he earned honors as the Superintendent of the Year.

The charter school system consists of Lake Wales High School, Bok Academy North and South middle schools, as well as Babson Park, Hillcrest, Polk Avenue, and JH Wilson elementary schools.

 
 

Reader Comments(1)

ncgossard writes:

Why didn’t the charter board know firing him was in violation of the law and the contract? Who advises them? Did they not read his contract? Know applicable law? We look like small town despots behaving this way.

 
 
 
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