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School district to consider renewing attorney’s contract; Works in-house issues

By Staff | Aug 26, 2008

The Lee County School Board will consider Wednesday night whether to renew an employment contract with Robert Dodig Jr., a staff attorney, until Sept. 1, 2009.

The scheduled board meeting was moved from Tuesday to Wednesday at 6 p.m. because of the primary election.

Tuesday’s primary will include a number of local races including the school board’s District 2 and 3 seats. Chairman Jeanne Dozier, District 2, is being challenged by James Middlebrooks and vice-chairman Jane Kuckel, District 3, is being challenged by Raymond Rodrigues.

Superintendent James Browder is recommending that the board extend Dodig’s contract, although “the position’s salary and benefits will be contingent upon negotiations with instructional personnel.”

If a decision is made to increase instructional compensation, the superintendent also recommends that the position receive an increase. Salary for the staff attorney position is currently $97,308, according to the school district.

“He (Dodig) is the district’s legal representation for all staff related issues whether disciplinary hearings, policies, working with union, part of bargaining and negotiations. He is our in-house counsel when it comes to employee matters,” said Joe Donzelli, district spokesperson.

According to the district, the staff attorney represents all staff on issues regarding school and employment law. The position also provides legal representation to the district in due process hearings, staff disciplinary hearings and student expulsion hearings.

Donzelli explained that years ago the district held a cost differential study that showed having an internal staff attorney saved thousands of dollars.

“The district would otherwise have to pay someone outside. He does it all internally,” said Donzelli.

Recently, the staff attorney represented the district in negotiations with the Teachers Association of Lee County and the Support Personnel Association of Lee County. In May the district decided to halt salary negotiations for the 2008 to 2009 school year until after the tax roll was released.

Mark Castellano, president of the Teachers Association of Lee County, said the association is scheduling a date for negotiations to resume.

“We don’t have a date set yet, but it will be by the end of September. We were talking today about starting to set up dates for negotiations for salaries of instructional and support personnel,” said Castellano.

Officials agreed in May that negotiations will be completed by Sept. 30.