BUNNELL, Fla. - After months of buildup and years of assorted public murmurings, the Flagler School Board has fired Board Attorney Kristy Gavin. The firing comes 18 months short of the end of her contract, and though multiple Board members have asserted a potential firing would be for cause, the prospects for potential litigation against the district by Gavin appear to be quite high.
The exact reasoning for Gavin's firing is blurry. Like other key School Board issues, the opposition against her appeared to be concentrated within three members: Will Furry, Sally Hunt, and Christy Chong. Still, an outright assumption that those three members struck the finishing blow would be premature in light of the exact details being released by the district.
An agreement reached in October between Gavin and the School Board initiated a negotiation process to move her from the job of Board Attorney into the new post of Staff Attorney, where she'd have no working relationship with the School Board. These negotiations presumably failed, and as was outlined in that meeting, the Board has chosen to fire her for cause. It will at some point have to disclose the reasons for her firing, with both the residents of the district and likely Gavin's legal team waiting eagerly to see them.
Gavin barely skirted a much more legally secure firing in 2021, when the Board was most recently presented the opportunity to renew or not renew her contract. Despite a raucous public demonstration to enact her firing, Gavin was maintained by the majority of Colleen Conklin, Cheryl Massaro, and Trevor Tucker. Janet McDonald and Jill Woolbright voted to ditch her.
The dismissal of Gavin, who's been with Flagler Schools since 2006, marks the latest in a series of leadership overhauls. Longtime Board member Trevor Tucker was voted out in 2022, Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt was fired last year by Furry, Hunt, and Chong, Board member Colleen Conklin is choosing not to run for re-election, and Communications Coordinator Jason Wheeler stepped down in December.
The longest-tenured Board member as of next year will either be Cheryl Massaro if she's re-elected (elected 2020), or the Furry/Hunt/Chong trio if she's not, with all three of them having just been elected in 2022. The School Board will have new legal representation (they're in the process of shortlisting other candidates now), a relatively new superintendent in LaShakia Moore, a mostly new Board, and an administrative office comprised of several relatively recent promotions. With Gavin now gone, the Board's foremost tasks will be both finding her replacement and assuring the public that there's not a concerning lack of experienced leadership.