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Charter school board member on suspension pending AG opinion

By Staff | Sep 10, 2013

The ultimate decision on what to do with a member of the Cape Coral Charter School board while awaiting a state legal opinion may be left to the next city council.

For now, the Cape Coral City Council voted Monday night to suspend Daryl Teblum for not more than 90 days pending an opinion as to whether he can serve while his wife is employed as a teacher.

The issue has arisen as a result of a new state statute that says a charter school board member cannot have a spouse under the school’s employ or it could be found in violation, grounds for which its charter could be revoked.

Teblum went in front of the council, contending there is an unfairness with the law while also accentuating his loyalty and work for the system.

“The council has witnessed my dedication after attending all the meetings for five years and years of asking to be on the board and being turned down,” Teblum said. “An opinion from the attorney general would be in order because one of the biggest problems with the law is it bunches municipal schools in with for-profit schools.”

The state’s lack of differentiation between for-profit schools and municipal schools has long been a sticking point for the council when dealing with charter school issues.

Teblum, an unpaid member of the board, said he has no personal gain for staying on the board.

The city council concurred that Teblum had done nothing wrong other than being married to a charter school employee and falling victim to what many said is a questionable law.

The problem? There wasn’t much the council could do.

“We’re in a Catch 22. The law has changed and it makes no exception for municipal schools. That’s’ why we suggested a suspension until we got an opinion from the attorney general, and it won’t be him to change the law, but the legislature (next year),” Mayor John Sullivan said.

The problem with waiting for an opinion is that it could take time. City Attorney Dolores Menendez said by the time an opinion could be reached, a new city council could be in office.

“You may want to fill the seat. Otherwise the suspension is indefinite,” Menendez said.

A suspension of 60 days is customary. But with the potential wait, council voted for a 90-day suspension, with a new council having to deal with it from there.

The vote was 7-1, with Derrick Donnell voting against it, saying the law is cut and dry regardless of whether municipal schools should be included in the state statute or not.

The board also decided unanimously to suspend a second member, Jason Pawlowski, a non-voting member whose term expires on Sept. 30, for the remainder of his term. Pawlowski was not at the meeting.