New School Board Members Vote Against Change


Hope springs eternal in the human breast.

Alexander Pope, the writer of those lines, luckily didn’t know the Broward County School Board

I hoped that with four new members elected in November, there would be change at the School Board?  I was wrong.

Sadly Dave Thomas, Nora Rupert, Laurie Rich Levinson and Pat Good signaled yesterday they are not interested in real change.

When shortlisting applicants for the school system’s chief attorney, these newbies could have picked only outsiders.  They could have rejected anybody tied to the Broward schools’ checkered past.

Instead, Thomas, Rupert, Levinson and Good listed Marilyn Batista McNamara as one of three choices for the next general counsel.

Batista McNamara! 

Long-time General Counsel Ed Marko’s right hand girl.  Almost her entire 15-year career has been working for Big Ed.

Except for six months when she left for a stint at the Miami Dade schools, Batista McNamara has been a Marko employee since 1996.

Why would the new Board members push Marko out the door in December proclaiming they want a new direction and then consider his second-in-command now?

Batista McNamara was a party to many of the shortcomings in the School Board’s legal office.

Bad contracts.  No due diligence.  Refusing to collect money owed the schools by developers and other vendors.

She was working in that office when all this was done.

Batista McNamara’s Work

One of the cases she listed in her resume was the federal suit by the Concerned Citizens group which demanded equal rights for inner city students.  The suit proved that largely minority schools did not have adequate books, classes or facilities when compared to the suburbs.

The only thing more tattered than the torn text books given minorities were the schools themselves.  Plumbing fixtures were not working or missing altogether. Electrical wires hung exposed from the ceiling.  Drainage was non-existent so students had to wade through water between classes.

The schools were a mess while students in West Broward enjoyed brand new facilities.

I have seen no evidence that Batista McNamara ever tried to stop the inequality.

Batista McNamara fought against ending this discrimination.  Yes, she was just carrying out the orders of the old Board.

And the Old Board was doing the bidding of the development industry.  Using your construction dollars for new schools in West Broward enhanced the sales of their housing projects.

Board members couldn’t say no to the developers and lobbyists, who kept them in office with campaign contributions.   How many contributions did they get from inner city kids?

The suit ended up costing the Broward system $100,000s, maybe millions.  The system eventually agreed to a settlement which promised it would attempt to achieve equality.

That suit is just one more reason Batista McNamara is the wrong choice.

Interestingly enough, members Robin Bartleman, Jennifer Gottlieb and Ann Murray didn’t vote for Batista McNamara.  Is that because they have been around long enough to know her?

The four new members voted for Batista McNamara.  They were joined by the ultimate apologist for everything at the Board, member Maureen Dinnen.  And Chair Ben Williams.

Two other applicants with good resumes made the cut —  J. Paul Carland III of Hernando County schools and Sharron Pitts of Atlanta schools.

Board members will decide which of the three finalists get the general counsel’s job in late April.

By shortlisting Batista McNamara , the four new members voted for more of the same.   They voted for business as usual.

Good, Levinson, Thomas and Rupert should hang their heads in shame.

No, hope isn’t springing eternal in my breast.  But maybe, just maybe, the four new members will come to their senses by the final vote.

We don’t need Marko II!!!


New member Nora Rupert liked Batista McNamara


Robin Bartleman decided for a new direction 


17 Responses to “New School Board Members Vote Against Change”

  1. Tommy says:

    It took only four months for the new members to become what they ran against. That must be a record.

  2. Floridan says:

    “Are you now, or have you ever been, an employee of Ed Marko?”

    Why not just judge her on her skills and experience?

    Your post above indicates a lack of understanding of the role of the SB attorney.

  3. Hammerhead says:

    This is the same board claiming that its priority is to restore the public’s trust? They are creating the perception that they are dedicated to the status quo. That will not suffice the eager and engaged public. It will not restore public trust.

    It is interesting that Dinnen and Williams voted for Batista. They are the most recent two chairpersons, is that correct? They presided over the worst times in school board history. They have a need for the old guard to represent them in the future legal action they will both surely face as individuals. An outsider with integrity may not have the stomach to represent them when the truth comes out.

    I am somewhat impressed by Murray and Gottlieb because this is quite a departure for them. But most impressive is Bartleman because she has been consistently swimming upstream in the last several months. In fact, if anybody seems to have smelled the coffee, it’s her. Rupert on the other hand has become a total disappointment just since Notter has resigned. Have you seen and heard her during TV news interviews? Who is she and what happened to the Nora Rupert who first joined the board? She has changed her tune and has shown signs of becoming one of the old school board members. She will have time to learn from what she sees where Dinnen and Williams are concerned.

    To think I was believing that the new four and Bartleman might be the recipe for change.

    I’ll bet that they got an errant message that the Notter sacrifice would be enough to appease the public and quickly went back to the business of doing business. That, if true, will prove to be a massive miscalculation on their part. Save that comment in the back of your mind…see if it pans out.

  4. BeachGirl says:

    If you listened to all of the candidates, these 3 were very impressive. Batista has great credentials and it showed. However, when voting on the final 3, they can look at more personal issues. I’d be surprised if she makes the cut – only because of her associations and not because of her qualifications.

  5. Return of Wrong says:

    Listing somebody is different than selecting them. We only see two of the scoring sheets above. But J. Paul Carland is listed on both of them. If others are voting the same way, Carland likely wins. Buddy, is he scored by a majority of them and if so what can you tell us about this individual?

    Here is his information.

  6. pineystride says:

    They should pick the Hernando dude.

  7. Fascinating says:

    I found this totally fascinating. I chuckle at the bloggers who demanded a change and voted for new board members actually thinking that they would do the right thing. NOT!

    I listened to the interviews and there were quite a few who were very impressive, enough so that they could have short-listed 3 without including Batista.

    To her credit, she did come across very impressively, and when asked about her association with Marko, said that she would have made some different decisions and done things differently, but she was not in the position to do that. Fair point. But while she may be imminently qualified, she cannot ignore the stink of Marko, and the Board really does have to choose someone else.

    Paul Eichner, on the other hand, was a huge joke. How could he apply in the first place! When he was asked how he differentiates himself seeing as he was part of the board that the grand jury found problematic, he tried to say he was not, but then corrected himself. All the candidates were asked what their biggest failure was, and all but Paul answered giving examples of legal cases. Paul said his biggest failure was losing his re-election to Darla Carter! Unbelievable.

  8. Fascinating says:

    By the way, that Sharon Pitts was very impressive as well. She worked as a staff atty, interim general counsel, and most recently as Chief of Staff. If she doesn’t get picked for the Marko position, they should definitely consider her for a position in the new administration. Maybe she’ll apply for Superintendent?

  9. Broward Citizen says:

    The “Hernando dude” is probably exactly WHO the Board wants, too. Given their dismal trak record of mendacity and shenanigans, I would be afreaid. Be very afraid that they are setting up their secret choice!

  10. Daniel Simpson Day says:

    C’mon Buddy. You know very well that the subordinate is not the same as the boss.

    Harry Truman was no Franklin Roosevelt.
    Richard Nixon was no Dwight Eisenhower.
    Lyndon Johnson was no JFK.
    Gerald Ford was no Richard Nixon.
    George HW Bush was no Ronald Reagan.

    Each had their own style, and only Ford pardoned Nixon.

  11. Carland More of Same says:

    J. Paul Carland is the reincarnation of Ed Marko. Marko in training, Marko the formative years, a Marko jedi pup in training. Do not go there. I’m told there are good reasons he needs to leave Hernando County. Get someone that doesn’t bring that kind of baggage.

  12. Daniel Wrong says:

    Hey Daniel, sorry but the apple does not fall far from the tree. She was there saying nothing while her clients were indicted, went to jail, were called the most corrupt group possible. She is a lawyer and she was there not stopping it from happening. She is not what we need anymore. She had a responsibility to stop it and she didn’t.

  13. ShooFly says:

    Broward Schools are afraid to allow an outsider to become their Attorney. Why would they want their corruption, falsifying records, illegal hiring/firing practices, gross mismanagement of everything they touch, numerous pending (and upcoming) lawsuits and other wrong doings to be discovered by an incoming Attorney?

    Batista McNamara knows all of the school boards’ secrets and the SBBC wanna keep it that way. Giving her the job is a reward to keep her mouth shut. Get rid of them all!!!!

  14. North Lauderdale Resident says:

    I agree with Fascinating. Sharron Pitts was very impressive and right on point. If the new Board really wants change, then they need to go with Sharron Pitts and pass on no-backbone Batista-McNamara and Marko Jr., J. Paul Carland.

  15. Jeanne Jusevic says:

    Was hoping that Sharon Pitts would be one the short list. Very impressive interview and resume.

  16. Old School Broward Parent says:

    @Jeanne, Is Ms. Pitts the same Pitts from Georgia Schools? They had a horrible scandal up there. My niece is very concerned. We don’t need more cheaters down here

  17. just wondering says:

    While he’s probably too smart to reconsider… why doesn’t the School Board go back and find the attorney who turned-down the job (exposing the Marko sweetheart deal, which was probably responsible for Notter leaving after seeing his lawyer heading for the high country). He was clearly qualified and was ethical enough not to become part of the problem. The School Board should now seek him out and make him part of the solution !!!!