Appeals Court Says Vanette Webb, Former District 5 School Board Member, Can Seek $200,000 From Board

February 6, 2009

vanettewebb.jpgVanette Webb, a former District 5 Escambia County School Board member, will once again have her chance to try to collect about $200,000 in legal fees from the school board.

Her claim was rejected by the Escambia County Circuit Court in 2007 when the court said it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. The First District Court of Appeal issued a ruling Thursday that the lower court did have jurisdiction to hear the claim.

Webb racked up the $200,000 in legal fees defending herself after she was accused of violating Florida’s open records laws.

Webb was indicted for violating the laws in December 1998 while serving as the District 5 school board member. The charges stemmed from several  public records requests made by Pensacola mother Susan Watson. Watson claimed the delivery of the records was improperly delayed. Webb claimed she would not turn over the records because they contained confidential public records.

Webb was convicted in May of 1999. She was sentenced to 11 months and 15 days in jail, but all but 30 days of the sentenced were suspended. Ultimately, Webb served seven days in jail on the conviction. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush suspended Webb from the school board.

That conviction was tossed out in October, 1999, and Bush reinstated her to her school board seat. She held that seat until losing it in the 2000 primary election.

The charges against Webb were ultimately dropped in July 2003.

Webb cited the approximately $200,000 in legal fees as a reason for filing bankruptcy in 2001.


17 Responses to “Appeals Court Says Vanette Webb, Former District 5 School Board Member, Can Seek $200,000 From Board”

  1. Mike on February 10th, 2009 4:15 pm

    Asking questions about how taxpayer money is spent is apparently not a good thing for some people. That alone – even if there was nothing else – is what should be expected by our public servants, especially those in a “GOBS” (good-ole boy system).

    Some people just like it like the way it is. GOBS.

  2. taxpayer on February 10th, 2009 3:28 pm

    Still a few moving around the Issue…Name “ONE” thing good she every did for the School System, other than embarrassment herself?
    just one..give it a try!
    The good Ole boy system had nothing to do with the Question..what a cheep way out to always defend actions with a statement like “She wasn’t a good Ole Boy” means nothing…I’m still waiting for a good response to my Question! Just name of One thing She did for the Students and TaxPayers, give it a try…….

  3. Mike on February 10th, 2009 3:11 pm

    “All Webb accomplished during her time in office was to waste the school boards time and money. When Webb got her case dismissed (in2003 ) it just shows that with enough time an money you can get out of any thing.”

    The Webb’s expended their meager savings to pay Vanette’s first attorney a paltry sum, and that attorney, like those following after, after a nominal down payment, basically worked without payment to correct the injustice. As anyone knows who deals with courts and the concept of “justice,” it doesn’t just fall out of the sky and hit you in the head: you have to force it to happen through effort. She didn’t just “get” her case dismissed as if it took no effort; it took massive, unpaid effort by a lot of folks who knew she got a kangaroo trial at the hands of a biased and ignorant judge, who prevented Mrs. Webb from preventing a meritorious defense at her trial. That’s why a second, rational judge, after seeing the sham of a trial, awarded Mrs. Webb another one. Fact.

    Your implication that large sums of money were spent on attorneys and that that – along with a waiting game – is what it took to get justice, is a joke, and of course, like body parts we all have, uninformed opinion.

  4. Jason on February 10th, 2009 9:29 am

    All Webb accomplished during her time in office was to waste the school boards time and money. When Webb got her case dismissed (in2003 ) it just shows that with enough time an money you can get out of any thing. Some good did come out of her tenue, never again will a parent be denied access to thair childs school records . Its only common sense that if any one keeps a record on me or my child I should have the right to review it

  5. Chuck on February 9th, 2009 7:40 pm

    excellent post mike. I thought mrs. webb did a fine job, her only problem was that she was not politically correct among the “good ole boys”.

  6. Mike Rollo on February 9th, 2009 4:16 pm

    Mrs. Webb is not and has not been convicted of anything. The bogus charges were eventually dismissed due to the efforts of her attorneys, and the State Attorney’s Office knew they could not convict her in a second trial, so they dropped (nolle prosequi) the case. In fact, there could not have been a conviction the first time without the assistance of the Judge, Pat Kinsey, who actually helped the State prosecute Mrs. Webb during the trial.

    Public Officials are entitled to be provided legal defense when their official conduct is challengd either civilly or criminally. The School Board sold her down the river and wanted her out of office because she was asking too many questions about massive, unaccounted for spending out of a discretionary fund.

    It was a conspiracy, actually, as the second trial judge stated in awarding Mrs. Webb a new trial, before the State dropped the case.

    Whether you liked her techniques or personality or not, she had the guts to ask how the taxpayer’s money was being spent. That was enough to get her arrested.

    My opinion. I was there.

  7. TaxPayer on February 9th, 2009 9:30 am

    Vanette Webb
    Was an embarrassment to the Taxpayers, she should have used the past nine years getting (professional) treatment! Not one person will ever recall anything positive she did while serving as a Board member, I’m sure a few will take a stab at it, but none can prove nothing. She was the most vindictive member to have ever served on the School Board.
    Escambia County needs to keep moving forward!

  8. Proper Grammar on February 8th, 2009 5:03 pm

    JF, I believe the word is “improper.”

  9. Frank Hudson on February 7th, 2009 7:03 pm

    Did you guy not read that the Charges were dropped and she was reinstated.
    She deserves to be treated as any other whether you or I agree or NOT.

    If legal fees were not covered for Public officials the Common Joe could not serve or run for Public office.

    If for no other than the likes of Susan Watson.

    I remeber PTO meetings she and another former Board member from the North Stired utter caos because they did not get thier way through the Democratic prossess.

  10. Chuck on February 7th, 2009 6:14 pm

    Mrs. Webb has the right to due process of the law just as you and I. If it cuts into the school boards budget then so what, its all part of doing business. I was’nt so sure that she got a “fair shake” back then and this only validates my thought.

  11. Delane Garrett on February 7th, 2009 3:43 pm

    Mrs. Webb was convicted in 1999 and suspended from her post ,was very lucky to not have to serve jail time and now, nine years down the road,we as taxpayers are going to have to go through this mess with her again? PLEASE! If I were her I would go back to where ever she has been and stay there . We have lost enough in the way of education on the north end without having to pay her for whatever it is she feels she needs to be compensated for. If I remember correctly she is supposed to be a Christian and you are supposed to forgive and forget. Sounds like a greed thing to me, you know one of the seven deadly sins?

  12. JF on February 6th, 2009 3:29 pm

    To use the above unproper English, I think Ms. Webb done no wrong and it’s the lawyers who want the money, not Ms. Webb. I also think you might find that lawyers fees are not covered by being bankrupt. I believe they get their fees regardless if there is anywhere to skin the turnip
    Ms. Watson and her cohorts are going after the santa Rosa schools now with the Pace action.

  13. just my opinion on February 6th, 2009 12:39 pm

    The school system is already strapped for cash. Now she wants the school district to pay her $200,000.00? That will mean there is even less to go around to benefit the children. Even if she loses her case, the court costs to the district take away cash that could help the kids. I guess she doesn’t care about them at all.

  14. Molino Dad on February 6th, 2009 12:17 pm

    Susan Watson requested the records via the proper legal process and done nothing wrong. Vanette Webb knowingly broke the law by not providing the documents and was arrogant about it. She deserved everything she got and deserves no compensation.

  15. me on February 6th, 2009 12:01 pm

    Well, if she filed bankruptcy then her debt was wiped clean . Why does she need to sue for her legal fees? If you must, sue for pain and suffering but not for something that you don’t even owe.No amount of money will erase her embarrassment and pride can sometimes cloud ones judgement.

  16. Rod on February 6th, 2009 7:58 am

    Ms. Webb did get a raw deal. She was fighting an uphill battle against other board members and a Superintendent who were deeply ingrained in a good ole boy system.
    I believe that she really tried to do what was best for the School District.

    She was on the bad end of a “witch hunt” by Susan Watson (now of the ACLU).

    I hope that she gets compensated for all the bad things she has had to endure.

  17. JF on February 6th, 2009 7:53 am

    Susan watson and the ACLU should have to pay her fees. They filed the bogus claim.