Did you know that on September 11, 2018 the Audit Committee for the School Board of the School District of Indian River County, FL unanimously recommended to the School Board “to put a policy in place to put out an RFP for general council legal services at least every three years…”
Suzanne D’Agresta, Esq. of the Orlando firm Garganese, Weiss, D’Agresta & Salzman, P.A. has been the School District’s outside general council for the School District since 2009.
Let’s call a spade a spade,” Robert Auwaerter, Audit Committee Chairman said at the 2018 meeting. “It is a very significant cost to the School District – $ 264,000 a year – plus mileage reimbursement plus other expenses. You can hire a few teachers for that. We felt it was worth checking on.”
Mr. Auwaerter is the retired head of the Vanguard Fixed Income Group, where he was responsible for $ 750 billion in client assets. On December 12, 2018 he received the Fiscal Conservative of the Year Award from the Indian River County Taxpayers Association.
In 2018, attorney, Suzanne D’Agresta’s 142 monthly billable hours cost taxpayers $278,000. In comparison to much larger school districts, Indian River’s attorney costs are completely disproportionately high.
Out of Florida’s 67 school districts, all hire local attorneys, except for 15 districts. Of those 15 districts, 13 are small and obtain legal services from nearby counties.
Indian River County’s school board attorney, Ms. D’Agresta travels further at 213 miles than any other school district attorney in Florida.
In 2018, Ms. D’Agresta traveled from Orlando to our school district 88 times. In addition, Ms. D’Agresta has increased her travel rate for 2019.
The School District of Indian River County’s total legal fees for the current school year have already surpassed $370,000.
Here are charts, compiled by Claudia Wall, consisting of Attorney D’Agresta’s itemized billing statements, Public Records from various school districts in Florida including contracts, billing statements and salary schedules.
We believe you should have access to this information.
This first compiles the cost of Attorney D’Agresta’s legal services for the calendar year 2018 compared to other school districts.
[Pay attention to inside or outside attorney and the number of students related to the cost. Also note the monthly retainer.]
This chart outlines Attorney D’Agresta’s 2018 expenses for attending Florida School Board Attorney’s Association conferences.
Five Year Historical Analysis