The current attorney, Art Hardy, will retire after nearly 30 years working for the board.
Longtime Sarasota Schools attorney Art Hardy will retire at the end of the school year after more than 20 years with the district.
Hardy first began serving as general counsel for the district in the late 1990s and helped the district navigate the creation of a property tax referendum, the introduction of social media laws and school security changes.
The school board began the process of replacing Hardy during a workshop Tuesday when they interviewed five firms hoping to be the board’s new counsel.
The attorneys representing each firm are:
- John Quick with Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, headquartered in Miami with an office in Tampa;
- R. David Jackson with Persson, Cohen & Mooney, P.A., with offices in Venice and Lakewood Ranch;
- Michael McKinley with Wotitzky, Wotitzky, Ross, McKinley & Young, headquartered in Punta Gorda;
- Amanda Mitteer Bartley with Chartwell Law, headquartered in Fort Myers; and
- Daniel DeLeo, Patrick Duggan and Mark Connolly with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, based in Sarasota.
Although they have yet to choose a firm, board members have offered insight to what they want from a new general counsel.
Some board members expressed concerns with hiring an attorney from the east coast versus a local attorney because of billable hours connected to driving time. Others wanted an attorney with government experience.
“I’m more concerned about hiring an attorney, legal counsel or a firm that represents all five board members,” Karen Rose said. “ … this is the time to collaborate to get our ultimate priority of providing for the safety and highest quality of education to every student and I would like to see us come to a 5-0 vote as we did with the superintendent.”