Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher-Blogger Suing to Get Documents from Duval District; All Documents, Emails and Texts Pertaining to Guerrieri Are Sought

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teacher-Blogger Suing to Get Documents from Duval District; All Documents, Emails and Texts Pertaining to Guerrieri Are Sought

Article excerpt

Byline: Denise Smith Amos

An attorney representing a teacher-blogger who has criticized Duval County Public Schools leadership filed a lawsuit Monday claiming the district is withholding public documents he requested last November and paid for last month.

District officials say they plan to give him the documents, which they said amount to 1,900 pages, but they need more time to review them for information which by law must be redacted.

The attorney also is requesting that the county's General Counsel's Office hire an outside lawyer to conduct an independent investigation into the handling of this case, including questioning School Board members, district leaders and people in the General Counsel's Office.

The lawyer behind these requests is Ryan J. Andrews, a Tallahassee attorney who represents Christopher Guerrieri, a longtime Duval teacher who last year got into trouble for a blog item he wrote criticizing School Board member Cheryl Grymes.

Guerrieri had written that Grymes voted for the district to spend money on an after-school program that Guerrieri incorrectly said enriched the coffers of Grymes' and her husband's employer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida. Grymes told Guerrieri his blog was inaccurate - Big Brothers Big Sisters does not provide such after-school services - and Guerrieri corrected his blog.

Nevertheless, in September an attorney in the county's General Counsel's Office wrote a "cease and desist" letter to Guerrieri, threatening him with professional sanctions and a libel lawsuit if he didn't remove the blog item. The district also investigated Guerrieri and discussed a week's suspension without pay but did not impose that punishment.

Guerrieri, for his part, filed a grievance against the district through the teachers union. And his personal attorney, Andrews, last month sent a letter threatening a federal lawsuit if the district didn't pay Guerrieri $300,000 and if board member Scott Shine did not apologize for negative comments he made about Guerrieri.

Andrews' lawsuit Monday seeks a state judge to compel the district to produce the public records which he began requesting in November. …

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