Herald-Tribune by Billy Cox
April 13, 2018
SARASOTA — Tensions between the parents of a boy kicked out of charter school and the administration of Island Village Montessori School have escalated to the Sarasota State Attorney’s office.
Jeff and Jenn Buck — whose A-student son Cooper was dismissed from the second grade on Sept. 2, one day after they filed a public records request for personnel records for two administrators — contend that the school abridged their First Amendment rights and committed “multiple violations” of Florida Sunshine Laws.
In March, the Bucks complained to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office that they had been excluded from public IVMS board meetings, were denied notes from and notification of those meetings, and were not allowed to query the board about why their son was dismissed. Late last week, prosecutors with the 12th Judicial Circuit agreed to pursue a probable cause affidavit, which cites IVMS board of directors president Sander Feldman, 82, for having violated the Sunshine Law.
A spokesperson for Grapevine Communications, the company conducting public relations for IVMS, said the school would decline comment. Assistant State Attorney Earl Varn is beginning to interview all parties and could not comment.
Michael Barfield, vice president of the ACLU of Florida, said the development is significant.
“This is the first time I can ever remember that a probable cause has been found for a criminal violation of the Sunshine Law in this circuit,” Barfield said. “Even though this is a misdemeanor, we think it’s worthy of prosecuting.”
Last month, the Bucks, whose son now attends another school, told the School Board that the IVMS board of directors should be fired for failing to comply with charter statutes, which they say included a failure to conduct employment verification of recent hires, including Cindy Hoffman, the school’s third principal in three years.