FORT WALTON BEACH —Circuit Court Judge William Stone has been asked to decide whether county taxpayers should foot the nearly $283,000 legal bill of former Okaloosa County School Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson.
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Stone heard two motions Tuesday that could result in his deciding a case for legal fees brought by Jackson in August.
Jackson’s attorneys argued for a partial summary judgment in the lawsuit, claiming she is entitled to the legal fees as a matter of law.
The Okaloosa County School Board, which is fighting the Jackson request, asked Stone to dismiss her lawsuit on the grounds that her complaint failed to state a cause of action.
Stone took matters presented by counsel for Jackson and the School Board under advisement and will rule on both motions at a later date.
Jackson’s heavy legal debt resulted from appealing a suspension from office imposed upon her in January by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Her argument for the fees is largely based on DeSantis’s later decision to reinstate her and allow her to resign.
The School Board "is legally obligated to reimburse her reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred in connection with her successful defense of the suspension and allegations brought forth by the governor," the motion for partial summary judgment states.
Attorneys for the school board argued against the notion that Jackson, who was suspended for negligence of duty and incompetence, had successfully defended herself against the governor’s suspension.
"The governor did reinstate (Jackson) in expectation of her imminent resignation," a response to the request for partial summary judgment said. "But her success was unrelated to the merits of her cases."