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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018 1 year ago

School district paid thousands to investigate complaints against administrators

The Sarasota County School Board paid an outside law firm $20,290 to investigate complaints made against Superintendent Todd Bowden and Booker High Principal Rachel Shelley.
by: Cassidy Alexander Staff Writer

The Sarasota County School Board was billed for more than $20,000 in fees associated with an investigation into complaints against Superintendent Todd Bowden and Booker High School Principal Rachel Shelley.

In November 2017, Booker High School Assistant Principal Lyna Jimenez-Ruiz filed a complaint alleging that Bowden and Shelley retaliated against her after she accused Bowden in 2016 of engaging in sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

Jimenez-Ruiz said she was unfairly reassigned job duties after filing the first complaint.

The 2016 accusations were investigated and determined to be “unfounded.”

The school board agreed to hire Orlando-based attorneys Suzanne D’Agresta and Richard Blystone to investigate the most recent complaint in December.

After 115 hours of work and a total charge of $20,290.21, the attorneys found the complaints against both administrators were  also unfounded.

“To be frank, while there was a vast amount of information to wade through, this was not a close call,” the report states.

In 2016, the district was charged $22,750 for the investigation into Jimenez-Ruiz’s complaints against Bowden.

The school board also agreed to reimburse Bowden for the costs of hiring legal counsel. At the time of publication, the district had not received any invoices.

I’m Cassidy. I cover news in Sarasota County, Siesta Key and the schools, plus community events if they involve dogs. I’m a Florida native, and University of North Florida graduate with degrees in journalism and graphic design. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 304.

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