Becky Blackwood won. And it's the public who will pay for the Broward County School Board's stupid and vindictive decision to fire her.
It's been a long road back for Blackwood, a former supervisory building inspector who has contended she was removed from her job in retaliation for her blowing the whistle on shoddy construction practices and corruption within the board's construction department. But the Pulp has learned that Blackwood won her appeal and will be given an unspecified payout. She tells me she doesn't plan to return to work at the school board and is currently working as construction management teacher at ITT in Davie and Everglades University in Boca Raton.
The total loss to the board on its unwise decision to fire Blackwood isn't known, but Blackwood estimates it's likely about $350,000 including legal costs. Though the school board began going back after her in 2005, she wasn't officially fired until January 2008.
"Hopefully, this appellate ruling will be instrumental in changing the way the School Board of Broward County supervises and manages their multimillion dollar construction program, keeping the public's best interest their priority," Blackwood wrote in an email forwarded to the Pulp. "My final hope is that the money, spent by the School Board in their actions against me, might be punitive enough to prevent the Board from taking future actions against other employees who speak out against illegal practices within the District."
Amen to that.
The full text of Blackwood's email can be seen after the jump and I'll be updating this post as details come in.
----------------------- I couldn't be happier. I finally feel vindicated in my actions on behalf of the students, staff and public of Broward County School District . This ruling has justified all of the long hours spent to initiate changes, especially with mold and mildew. It also vindicates the lies, intimidation and harassment I, and others who supported my position, have endured during these past 8 years.
I have been campaigning for the enforcement of building codes and better construction in Broward schools since I became Senior Supervisor of Inspections and Code Compliance in 1997. My professional reputation, personal reputation and financial status have been damaged by the School Board's actions during my years of employment.
It became obvious since 2000, the Board's motivation was intent upon rewarding their political "friends", rather than being active stewards over the large sums of money, entrusted to them by the public.
From 2005-2008, I was requested to testify in lawsuit depositions, representing the School Board. My testimonies, regarding my code positions, were instrumental in settlements against contracted design professionals. These settlements returned more than $2 million dollars to the District.
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During this same time, the School Board not only proposed my termination but finally succeeded in following through in January 2008, despite the investigations by their Special Investigative Unit and their EEO office, which found I committed no actions that would warrant my termination. .
Thanks to the efforts of the Broward Teacher's Union and our union contract, I was protected against the threats, harassment and discrimination by the School Board, members of their staff and long time employees, while performing my job duties in accordance with local, State and Federal laws. Our union was also instrumental in hiring the legal firm that assisted me during termination proceedings and in this appeal.
Hopefully, this appellate ruling will be instrumental in changing the way the School Board of Broward County supervises and manages their multimillion dollar construction program, keeping the public's best interest their priority.
My final hope is that the money, spent by the School Board in their actions against me, might be punitive enough to prevent the Board from taking future actions against other employees who speak out against illegal practices within the District.