New Board Will Kick Out Marko; Is Notter Next?


For decades, long-time school system General Counsel Ed Marko got almost everything he wanted from his bosses on the School Board. 

But it’s a new Board with four new members. 

And Marko learned Tuesday that its a new day. 

The Board consisting of just-elected novices and newly-empowered old members decided to boot Marko Tuesday. 

Members were flexing its muscles in its first big decision since the election.

If I were Superintendent Jim Notter,  I would keep those resumes ready.  There has been a lot of criticism of him lately, too.  

The move Tuesday was truly revolutionary.  The Board put the public first.

Here is what happened:

Marko tried to force the School Board to give him another year’s contract.  Members didn’t buy it.

No vote was taken at the workshop meeting.

But it was clear from the comments at the meeting that at least six members want Marko gone.  They will vote formally next month.

Maybe he won’t leave at the end of his current contract on Dec. 31.  However, members made it clear they want him out way before the end of 2011.  

Three old Board members, Ann Murray Jennifer Gottlieb and Robin Bartleman spoke against keeping Marko another year.  They were joined by three new Board members — Dave Thomas, Nora Rupert and Patti Good.

Marko’s contract extention was only supported by member Maureen Dinnen.

Dinnen apparently never wants Marko replaced.  She argued that Broward needed an attorney from a big county like Broward who had a lot of experience in education law…like Marko. 

I guess she wants him appointed General Counsel for Life.  He’s been with the Broward schools since 1968.

The Board first started to discuss replacing Marko in 2007. Someone could have gone to three years of law school and passed the Bar during the time it has taken the Board to get to this point.

I thought Marko would die in office, so I was very surprised by what happened.

I’ve been watching School Board meetings for over three decades.  I was impressed by the quality of the questions and the arguments advanced by the three new members who attended the meeting. 

Member Laurie Levinson, who was elected earlier this month, left the meeting early to catch a plane.  

Thomas attacked the concept of having Marko hang around after a new general counsel was chosen.  He is supposed to become General Counsel Emeritus for a year.

Thomas summed up the problem with the position of emeritus in one line:

“If I were the new captain of a ship and the old captain was still aboard, the crew would go to him rather than me.” 

What attorney wants to take a job when Marko will be looking over your shoulder for the first year?

Rupert tried to pin Marko down on just how much the job involved education law, a select portion of the Florida statutes.  Marko squirmed, not really answering the question.

Gottlieb made a point that Marko should not be on the committee that chooses his replacement.  He has previously served on the committee, which was unsuccessful.

She appeared to accuse Marko of sabotaging the work of that previous committee: “The legal community locally, statewide and nationally felt were weren’t going to make a change.” 

Rupert’s question went to the heart of who should be hired to replace Marko.  Dinnen argues that an education law expert is needed, while other members like Gottlieb contend any clever lawyer who knows government law would be suitable.

I agree with Gottlieb. Much of what Marko’s office does is not education law.  Matters like employment, personal injury, insurance claims, real estate and contruction have little to do with education law.   

Marko has three assistants with extensive experience in education law.  His expertise is not irreplaceable.

“I think we’re in great position if there is no Ed Marko tomorrow,” said Murray.  

Or as new member Good said: “It’s a new day. We need to move forward.”

So true.

 Earlier Story:

Forget the general counsel emeritus job.  Ed Marko wants it all…for another year.

Marko has asked for another year as general counsel of the Broward School Board.  

Marko wrote the School Board today — just hours before a meeting called to discuss his retirement and handing him a new contract as general counsel emeritus — that he would “wish to offer my continued services” as general counsel.

Marko gives the same reasons that his supporters have for years:  the school system’s fiscal challenges and his “institutional knowledge.”

Using that reasoning, Marko will never leave.  The school system is always in crisis, although I have no idea what Marko has done to help out.

Today’s meeting will be the first big decision for four new School Board members.  Will they have the guts to take a new direction and dump Marko?

Marko has been a lawyer with the School Board since 1968.

18 Responses to “New Board Will Kick Out Marko; Is Notter Next?”

  1. Beth The Bounty Hunter says:

    All Marko likes to do is give School Board money away, his office settles way too soon. When people are paid out for retirement and a large mistake amount is given, he never gets it back.

  2. Vicki Lloyd says:

    Keep him as long as he wants. No body knows the system like he does. Good, bad or indifferent

  3. So Sick of It All says:

    A fresh start would probably make sense right now. More important to create new history than focus on the value of old history.

  4. j says:


    We get it. You wnat the guy gone.
    Can you name me one attorney with educational law experience who is qualified without a google search, or calling someone, etc. at least in Florida or this County?

    FROM BUDDY: I can name two. Marylin Batista-McNamara and Robert Vignola. They are Marko’s assistants and have been working for the school system for years. I’m sure there are others.

  5. Truthiness says:

    I noticed this in the Sun-Sentinel:

    “The creation of the emeritus position for Marko was part of his most recent contract extension. The board formally created the position three weeks ago, just before four new members took their seats on the board. But there’s no salary or length of tenure attached.

    How about keeping Marko as General Counsel Emiritus for the year (as is required by the most recent contract). But, as the contract doesn’t specify any salary, make the salary for the emeritus post be $1 per year. He won’t stick around more than the time it takes him to pack and leave the School Board’s KCW building.

  6. Lyn says:

    Let’s see: corruption in the construction department, corruption in the human resources department, gross overpayment of hurricane repair costs, the arrests of two Board members, an unprecedented increase of student on student violence, mismanagement of federal stimulus funding, failure to plan for the class size amendment, illegal layoffs & hirings, and more recently, the illegal/unethical release of confidential FDLE information on a former Board member by his “professional standards” office.
    Is Notter next? The more prudent question is what is taking so long?

  7. Floridan says:

    I am not too concerned about Marko; he has had a long run as School Board attorney.

    Still, there seems to be a lot of talk about how long he has been in that postion, as if that is the reason he should be shown the door.

    The question should be, is he a competent lawyer for the School Board and is he able to effeciently carry out his job? If not, what are his specific deficiencies?

    A lot of this talk appears to be based on what might be termed “the thrill of the hunt.”

  8. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    to Truthiness:

    what, are you, a fucking idiot??! he needs to go!
    You go, Ms. Good, Ms. Rupert and Bonecrusher Thomas!

  9. Mikey says:

    It is refreshing to see the School Board finally recognize that ED MARKO is a problem.
    If another lawyer looked at the contracts he has negotiated they would be shocked. It is time to retirement.
    Notter, too!!!!!

  10. Cya Pops! says:

    Get out the broom…Notter needs to go and soon. He has been there for the waste, corruption and screw-ups galore. He either is in on it or is so stupid he can’t see what the whole world sees. And his cronies need to go with him.
    The place is full of them and taxpayers are footing the bill (while kids suffer)!

  11. Angry in Plantation says:

    Maureen Dinnen supports keeping this guy? Is she afraid of what will come out with her protector gone. I bet you she is the next member to get indicted!

  12. The Seer says:

    The audit committee has criticized Marko for refusing to collect money owed to the Board by vendors for mistakes or violations of contracts.
    For that reason alone, he should have been fired.
    Once Marko leaves, maybe these millions can be collected.

  13. Charlotte's Web says:

    Marko’s replacements should not be his assistants who have worked nowhere else but under him. They are part of his incompetence. A new attorney must have the ability to hire his own assistants.

  14. Hammerhead says:

    Notter was interim and was supposed to not be included for consideration in the permanent superintendent position search.

    He was supposed to obtain his doctorate but didn’t. Is there anyone out there who knows how far into that process he is? Ms. Kraft do you know the answer to that one?

    What has Notter done since he’s been there? He swept in on the heels of the CELT whale watching trip that was paid for by a district vendor (unscrupulous behavior), but everyone seems to have forgotten that.

    He sat at the head of the table while more money was squandered than in any other similar period of the school board’s history, but everyone seems to have forgotten that.

    He allowed over 30,000 empty seats to be added to the district at a huge construction cost to the residents of Broward, but everyone seems to have forgotten about that.

    He re-created the Operating Officer position to hand to a crony friend of his, but everyone seems to have forgotten about that.

    He has spent more time catering to the whims of many board members who were (and are until further evidence appears) bent on using budget money to fit their own agendas, instead of the people they were sworn to serve, but everyone seems to have forgotten that.

    He was lock-step with Dinnen in the appointment and hand picking of the three gentlemen who provided the district with a toothless, meaningless and baseless Ethics Report; so much so that they did not even show up to the board meeting to discuss their recommendations. Oddly, Notter and Dinnen were quick to provide insight in the absence of the report’s authors. Even more conveniently, the board had already addressed most of the recommendations before they were even presented to the district. How wierd? Wouldn’t you say?

    Well it is time to put on your thinking caps and try to come up with some “real” reasons why he is still at the head of the table, otherwise we should have a rich debate about his usefulness (or lack thereof) as the district, new board and the general counsel’s office “move forward”. I don’t know if moving foward is possible with the same guy steering the clumsy and bulky ship through narrow channels and uncharted waters.

    The above was not meant to point out Notter’s failures, as much as to remind the people that he hasn’t even met his own benchmarks so how can he reach those he spouts about during every public performance he gives? Reasonable question, right? Accountability?

    A leader either leads and gets results, or a leader pretends until the followers catch on.

  15. Neil Watcher says:

    Don’t count on Notter’s departure. Mark helped him craft a contract that guarantees he stays around even if he is removed from Superintendent. He will get his old position and he will have it until 2014!!! Take that Citizens of Broward County!!!!

  16. Neil Watcher says:

    Don’t count on Notter’s departure. Marko helped him craft a contract that guarantees he stays around even if he is removed from Superintendent. He will get his old position and he will have it until 2014!!! Take that Citizens of Broward County!!!!

  17. Stephanie Kraft says:

    Marko’s proposed new contract extension eliminates Emeritus role!!

  18. Lyn says:

    How right you are about Notter. He was told he could not apply for the permanent position as the interim, but then was handed the job on a silver platter. Millions of dollars were squandered under his watch, inept cronies were hired and retained – some into six-figure jobs they were totally unqualified for, big shot administrators retired and came back at higher salaries, there is so much negativity among the mid to lower level employees it is almost criminal.

    The stimulus money was supposed to save jobs, yet and still the district refuses to recall good employees whose only mistake was they didn’t have connections, while at the same time Notter and his trusty assistant Diaz are creating new six-figure salary positions to reward their friends. The fact that these people were willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay two attorneys to do one job tells you that no, it really isn’t “all for the kids.”
    Hammerhead, don’t forget about the excessive consultants’ fees Notter has doled out, including $200K for a California native to evaluate his performance as superintendent, the board jobs that have been filled without being properly advertised to the public, and the horrible acts of violence visited on the district that puts safety last, after FCats and cronyism.