TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Leon County School Board held a special meeting Thursday morning that ended in the Board voting unanimously to hire outside counsel in the fight against the Parent's Choice law.
Jamie Cole from the South Florida-based Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman law firm, which represents the Miami-Dade school district, will represent Leon County Schools.
Cole charges $350 an hour, and costs for counsel will be shared with the Miami-Dade school district. The district has budgeted up to $50,000 for his fees.
"I think this case needs to play out because it's going to set a precedent for years to come," said Rocky Hanna, the LCS superintendent.
WATCH THE MEETING BELOW
Hanna also responded Thursday to Florid Education Commissioner Corcoran's Aug. 27 letter regarding the district's compliance with the DOH Rule.
Hanna said the School Board's priority is protecting the health and safety of the over 34,000 students, 2,400 teachers and 4,300 employees in the Leon County Schools from a pandemic that has resulted in 43,979 deaths in Florida.
"So far this school year (from August 11 through August 31), we have had 532 students report a positive COVID-19 test (as opposed to 815 during the entire 2020-21 school year). Positivity rates in Leon County have been in the double digits since late July, and as of August 31, there were 141 patients with COVID-19 in Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, of which 8 are children (3 of whom are in the ICU). In August alone, we have lost 69 lives in Leon County, including two of our children," wrote Hanna.
The superintendent said the Board is "very careful and deliberate" in adopting the temporary, narrowly-tailored directive mandating masks for all K through 8th-grade students with a medical op-out.
Hanna continued that the decision was primarily based on the recommendations of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Medical Association, "along with over 90% of the leading local pediatricians in Leon County."
In a press release, Corcoran stated “elected officials cannot pick and choose what laws they want to follow.”
LCS' letter said the state is stressing the importance of in-person learning and “removing healthy students from the classroom for lengthy quarantines should be limited at all costs.”
The full letter is available below.