Longtime attorney for the Lee County School Board Keith Martin is calling it a career.
After 20 years on the job as the board’s legal counsel, Martin will be retiring this summer, he confirmed in an email this week.
“The timing of my retirement has been planned for a number of years,” Martin said. “The timing has no relation to the present Board or Superintendent, both of which are very supportive of my work. It is simply time for another chapter in my life.”
While the school district has seen tremendous growth since he stepped onto the job – more than doubling its student population – Martin said that the complexity that school districts face in their operations based on state laws and directives have grown at nearly the same pace.
“The School Law book I carry with me everywhere has grown substantially heavier with the completion of each legislative session, without a corresponding increase in the size of my biceps,” Martin said. “The level of detail with which the legislature dictates the operation of public schools has become mind-boggling.”
This summer, Lee joined a lawsuit with approximately a dozen school districts to challenge HB 7069, a sweeping piece of education legislation which requires school districts to share capital funds with charter schools, and allows for incentives for charters to open near low-performing schools, among other things.
The districts in the suit argue that the bill violates state statutes that require legislation be single issue – HB 7069 was comprised of several outstanding bills during a special session over the summer – and that it takes away the autonomy of local districts.
In 2014, Lee County made national headlines when they became the first school district to opt-out of Common Core testing before reversing the decision a week later.
“Despite all of this change, the aim of the legal advice and services has not changed over the years. As with every employee of the District, my aim is to do all I can to support the mission of ensuring each student achieves his or her highest personal potential,” Martin said. “When I have performed labor that preserves funding needed to support the vital work of our teachers in the classroom, or have provided guidance or services that enable teachers to be more effective in educating our students, that is a good day.”
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