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Miami-Dade schools face legal tab in charter school retaliation case

From the News Service of Florida

An administrative law judge said Tuesday the Miami-Dade County School Board should pay $233,000 in attorneys’ fees in a case filed by employees who said they faced retaliation for trying to open a charter school.

The legal-fees recommendation by Judge Edward T. Bauer, which now goes to the state Department of Education, stems from an underlying case in which school employees Alberto T. Fernandez, Henny Cristobal and Patricia E. Ramirez alleged they suffered retaliation after seeking to convert Neva King Cooper Educational Center to a charter school.

Bauer’s recommended order said the Miami-Dade County school system “quickly squelched the conversion efforts and, beginning in late April of 2012, reassigned all three petitioners to undesirable work locations.”

The employees filed complaints against the school district and were represented by Lake Wales attorneys Robin Gibson and Amy Tully.

In the underlying case, Bauer ruled last year that the Miami-Dade school system had violated part of state law, a finding that was upheld by the Department of Education. That led to further legal arguments about the amount of attorneys’ fees.

In addition to $233,000 in fees, Bauer’s recommendation Tuesday said the district should pay about $17,900 in costs.

Note: See our previous interview with attorney Robin Gibson here, and more past coverage here.

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BY Special to NextSteps