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Filing # 81416480 E-Filed 11/29/2018 04:22:05 PM

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA
APPELLATE DIVISION

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR, CASE NO.: 18-CA-11650
DIVISION: K
Petitioner,

v. Lower Tribunal Case No.:18-834
(Hillsborough Civil Service Board)
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY
CIVIL SERVICE BOARD,

Respondent.
________________________________/

PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI
Petitioner, the Office of the Hillsborough County Administrator (“the County”), by and

through its undersigned counsel, and pursuant to Fla. R. App. P. Rules 9.030(c)(3), 9.100(c) and

9.190(b)(3), seeks a writ of certiorari to quash a quasi-judicial order of the Respondent

Hillsborough County Civil Service Board (“CSB”), in which the CSB reinstated County employee

Travenski Lawson to his position as a Residential Services Coordinator for the County’s

Children’s Services Department.

In support thereof, Petitioner states as follows:

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Certiorari is available to review quasi-judicial orders of local agencies and boards not made

subject to the Administrative Procedures Act, when no other method of review is provided. Haines

City Community Development v. Heggs, 658 So.2d 523, 530 (Fla. 1995). This first-tier certiorari

review is not discretionary but rather is a matter of right. Broward County v. G.B.V. Int’l., 787

So.2d 838, 843 (Fla. 2001). The appropriate standard of review on a petition for certiorari requires

the Court to determine whether (1) the County was provided procedural due process by the CSB;

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(2) the essential requirements of law were observed during the proceedings before the CSB; and

(3) the administrative findings and judgment by the CSB were supported by competent substantial

evidence. Florida Mobile Home Relocation Corp. v. City of South Daytona, 80 So. 3d 1061 (Fla.

1st DCA 2012); Broward County, 787 So.2d at 843.

Statement of Facts

On March 3, 2018, Lawson slapped a thirteen year old child (A-49) while on duty and

supervising children for the Children’s Services Department of Petitioner Hillsborough County.

Lawson was in charge of the supervising staff on the night of the incident.

After an evidentiary hearing the CSB1 voted to reinstate Lawson to his position supervising

children and their caregivers.

This Petition presents the County’s concerns that during the CSB hearing the CSB denied

the County its right to procedural due process.

The County was denied procedural due process by the CSB

In two ways, the CSB violated the County’s procedural due process rights during the

hearing. First, after the CSB had already decided an issue with a final vote in favor of the County,

over the County’s objection the CSB Chair lobbied the rest of the CSB to re-vote, which resulted

in the County losing the case. Second, the CSB’s General Counsel served as legal counsel for the

CSB as well as sitting as the evidentiary judge, assuming authority outside the bounds of the

General Counsel’s statutory duties and authority.

1
The Hillsborough County Civil Service Board (“CSB”) was created by Act of the Florida
Legislature. The CSB promulgated Rules governing the conduct of evidentiary hearings.

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1. The CSB re-voted on an issue that was already decided.

After a lengthy evidentiary hearing the CSB’s six members voted 3-3 to confirm Lawson’s

termination for slapping the child. The CSB’s Rules delineate a tie vote results in a ruling in favor

of the non-moving party, here, the County.2 Then the Chair, declaring that all of the witnesses had

“zero credibility” and stating that the County had failed to meet its burden of proving its case

“beyond a reasonable doubt3” (A-311), asked the other board members to reconsider their vote so

the CSB would not have to “send that man home for him to tell his five kids that he’s no longer

got a job with the county.” (A-331).

According to the CSB’s Rules, the CSB may ONLY decide one of two things. First, the

CSB may decide that the employee violated a County rule or regulation. Second, the CSB may

decide that the employee did not violate a County rule or regulation, thus vacating the County’s

disciplinary action and placing the employee back in his or her former position. The CSB has no

authority to return an employee to a different position.

The Chair wanted to reinstate Lawson to a job with the County but didn’t want him to be

returned to his former job:

“Children’s Services can get what they want by making sure that Mr. Lawson is no
longer employed with Children’s Services, and I think Mr. Lawson can get what he

2
“In the event of a three/three tie as to any rule or policy—in other words, three votes
finding cause and three votes finding no cause—in that event, the appellant [Lawson] does not
prevail because the appellant has the burden of proving his case by a preponderance of the
evidence, and so a three/three tie is resolved in favor of Hillsborough County.” (A-22) See also
CSB Rule 15.20(3). (A-404)
3
It may reasonably be inferred from the Chair’s comments that the Chair of the CSB was
not aware that the CSB’s standard of review was “preponderance of the evidence” and not
“reasonable doubt”. Rule 15.20(1), CSB Rules. The Chair seemed to view this case as a criminal
trial, with the County as prosecutor, rather than as a quasi-judicial administrative hearing, requiring
Lawson to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he did not violate any of the County’s
Rules. Notably, the Board’s legal advisor did not correct the instruction.

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wants by making sure that HR and the county places him in another division within
our county.”

(A-312).

In fact, the County and Children’s Services have no such authority. The Chair went so far as to

state that:

“…if the decision here tonight were simply to place him back at Lake Mag [referring
to the location where Lawson worked when he hit the child] or not place him back at
Lake Mag, I would decide not to place him back at Lake Mag, but that’s not the
decision we have.” (emphasis supplied)

(A-313).

The CSB’s Rules, which govern and limit the CSB’s authority, require that the County

reinstate Lawson to his former position in Children’s Services:

“If the conduct which is proven does not establish a violation of the Civil Service
Rules, or if the action taken is found not to be for just cause, the action must be
vacated in its entirety and the appellant placed in the same position that he or she
would have been in had the action not been taken.”

Rule 15.22(1), CSB Rules (emphasis supplied) (A-405)

Thus the Chair’s analysis that the County need not return Lawson to his former job, though

it appeared to sway his fellow CSB members, was incorrect as a matter of law. Because of the

CSB’s decision to reinstate Lawson, the County now has no legal authority to do anything but

reinstate Lawson to his former position supervising the staff which supervises children and

supervising children himself.

After the Chair’s lobbying for reconsideration, the CSB then re-voted to reverse the CSB’s

previous decision to dismiss Lawson, this time voting 4-2 to reinstate Lawson to his position

supervising children and their caregivers.

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The CSB’s decision to re-vote after already voting in favor of the County’s position is a

violation of the County’s procedural due process rights. The record reflects that the CSB initially

voted 3-3 to affirm that the County had just cause to dismiss Lawson for a violation of its Rules.

Subsequently, the CSB re-voted. This re-vote was analogous to having the jury in a civil trial

finish its deliberations with a verdict, having the Clerk read the verdict, having the jury polled, and

then having the judge decide, no, that’s not the right verdict, and sending the jury back in to

reconsider their decision. The County properly objected twice to a re-vote of a question that had

already been decided by the CSB, but the County’s objections were disregarded. Over the

County’s objection, the CSB re-voted without a motion for reconsideration, this time deciding 4-

2 in favor of reinstating Lawson. But for the revote, the CSB hearing would effectively have been

over and Lawson’s dismissal by the County would have been affirmed by the CSB.

The CSB voted 3-3 regarding Rule 11.2(26), which means the County prevailed and

Lawson’s dismissal was upheld. (A-322-324). After the 3-3 vote had resolved the issue with

finality, the Chair started lobbying the “nay” voters for a re-vote:

“I want to go back to 11.2(26), and I’m going to appeal to the three nays because you
understand if that vote stands, the appellate [sic, referring to Mr. Lawson] loses his
entire case?”

(A-324).

In response, the County’s attorney, Ms. Green, objected, but her objection was overruled by the

CSB’s General Counsel (A-324).

2. The CSB’s General Counsel exercised discretion reflecting an unconstitutional
delegation of the CSB’s legislatively-granted authority

As the name “General Counsel” implies, the CSB’s General Counsel is supposed to be the

CSB’s legal counsel, not a judge. There is no authority anywhere in the Civil Service Act which

authorizes the CSB to appoint its general counsel as an arbiter of the evidentiary rules. Yet the

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General Counsel repeatedly made evidentiary objections during the hearing and ruled on his own

objections, acting as the judge of the evidence during the hearing:

“MR. ZINOBER (the CSB’s General Counsel): I’m going to strike that testimony…”

(A-139).

_______

“MR. ZINOBER: I’m going to sustain an objection that I’m making” (A-193).

_______

“MR. ZINOBER: He can testify as to what evidence he considered to support his

findings. But in terms of assessing witness credibility, I’m not permitting that

question.” (A-193).

_______

“MR. CANASI (the CSB Chair): Any other questions for this witness?

MS. GREEN (the County’s attorney): Yes.

MR. ZINOBER: I think we’ve heard enough.

MS. GREEN: I do have another question.

MR. ZINOBER: Well, I think we’ve heard enough.

MS. GREEN: I think it’s important.

MR. ZINOBER: Based upon what?

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MS. GREEN: Based upon discussion of the board members earlier in terms of delay

in process. Does that make sense?

MR. ZINOBER: One question…And there are no more questions after that.” (A-

209).

_______

“MR. ZINOBER: Let’s try to avoid leading even though Mr. Lawson is not a

lawyer…I’ve been very patient, but there’s been an awful lot of leading.” (A104-

105).

_______

“MS. GREEN: I’m going to object. That wasn’t the testimony.

MR. ZINOBER: I’m going to overrule the objection. Go ahead and answer the

question.” (A-123).

_______

“MS. GREEN: Objection again.

MR. ZINOBER: Overruled. Go ahead and answer the question.” (A-124)

_______

“MR. ZINOBER: I assume this witness is not going to be excused?

MS. GREEN: No. And I have another question.

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MR. ZINOBER: I’m not going to just keep this process going. If you want to get

this on rebuttal, you can. But this witness is done for now. Thank you. Call your

next witness.” (A-124)

_______

“MR. ZINOBER: Excuse me. Ms. Green, are you impeaching your own witness?

MS. GREEN: Well, I’m attempting to refresh recollection.

MR. ZINOBER: But you’re not doing it correctly because what she told another

person is not proper refreshment of recollection. It’s not something that she wrote

down. It’s a hearsay statement made to a third party. You can’t use that to refresh

recollection.” (A-138)4.

Florida’s judicial system establishes a boundary between a lawyer and a judge within the

same proceeding. A lawyer should be a lawyer, and a judge should be a judge, and never the twain

shall meet.

For example, the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct provides:

“Practice of Law. A judge shall not practice law.” (Canon 5.G., Fla. Code of Jud.

Conduct).

The corollary to the above Canon would logically prohibit a lawyer from acting both as a

judge and as a lawyer simultaneously during the same quasi-judicial hearing.

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This “ruling” by the CSB’s attorney, was incorrect as a matter of law. Wilcox v. State,
143 So.3d 359, 378-79 (Fla. 2014): “writings or objects used to refresh the memory of a witness
need not be admissible evidence.” Consequently, the CSB’s attorney denied the County’s attorney
an opportunity to refresh the recollection of a critical witness, further denying the County its rights
to procedural due process.
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Article V, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution provides in relevant part:

“…administrative officers or bodies may be granted quasi-judicial power in matters
connected with the functions of their offices.”

Thus the authority of a quasi-judicial Board’s General Counsel must be “connected with

the functions of their offices”. Turning to the CSB Statute and Rules, there is very limited authority

granted to the CSB’s General Counsel within the Statute, but the CSB has enacted broad authority

to the General Counsel within its Rules.

The CSB is authorized by its enabling legislation to “contract for legal counsel as may be

needed…” Section 7(2)7, Civil Service Act of 2000. (A-363)

Well beyond the scope of “contract[ing] for legal counsel as may be needed,” within its

Rules the CSB has delegated broad powers to its General Counsel:

“Rule 15.1(3): The Board, acting in concert or through its Chair, may delegate certain
responsibilities to…the General Counsel from time to time…” (A-383).

“Rule 15.14(7): The General Counsel shall address all preliminary, non-dispositive
motions and make evidentiary rulings on any objections designated in the Pre-
Hearing Statement to the exhibits, documents or other documentary evidence offered
by either party, either at the Pre-Hearing Conference or thereafter…” (A-399).

“Rule 15.19(2): For guidance of the parties, evidentiary hearings ordinarily proceed
in the following sequence unless otherwise stipulated by the parties; or upon the
determination of the General Counsel or the Board it appears that a different
procedure or deviation from this procedure, shall be appropriate.” (emphasis
supplied) (A-403).

The CSB unconstitutionally delegated its authority, thus creating a hearing process where

the CSB’s General Counsel displaces and usurps the statutory authority of the CSB. City of Miami

Beach v. Fleetwood Hotel, Inc., 261 So.2d 801, 805 (Fla. 1972) (“Objective guidelines and

standards should appear expressly in the act or be within the realm of reasonable inference from

the language of the act where a delegation of power is involved…Unrestricted discretion in the
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application of a law without appropriate guidelines and determining its meaning may not be

delegated by the City Council to an agency or to one person.”) As outlined above, the Legislature

gave the CSB specific authority to appoint its General Counsel, but the Legislature made no

provision for allowing the CSB’s General Counsel to serve as a judge during evidentiary hearings.

The CSB statute contemplates a hearing before the CSB, not before the General Counsel.

Yet the CSB’s Rules grant authority to the General Counsel to make evidentiary rulings, to rule

on motions and even unilaterally to change the Board’s rules if “it appears that a different

procedure or deviation from this procedure, shall be appropriate.” This grant of authority to the

General Counsel to make such ad hoc decisions in effect places the General Counsel in the role of

both attorney and judge, rather than in the proper role of counsel for the CSB.

In the Lawson proceeding, the General Counsel made evidentiary objections and then ruled

on his own objections. The General Counsel controlled the flow of the proceedings and whether

the testimony was heard. In practice, the General Counsel had the kind of unbridled discretion

that Florida Courts have determined constitutes an unlawful delegation. High Ridge Management

Corp. v. State, 354 So.2d 377 (Fla. 1978); Fleetwood Hotel, infra.

Thus the CSB has delegated to its General Counsel the broad authority to make evidentiary

rulings and even to change the CSB’s own procedures. This broad grant of authority within the

Rules outreaches the Statute’s authority allowing the Board to “contract for legal counsel as may

be needed.” The Legislature saw the need to allow the CSB to retain its own legal counsel. The

CSB has taken that authority and, within its enacted Rules, has broadened the authority of its legal

counsel so that instead of appointing a General Counsel, the CSB has in effect utilized its General

Counsel as an Administrative Law Judge. This dual role, not contemplated in Florida law, violates

the required separation between lawyer and judge. None of this was contemplated by the Civil

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Service Act, and none of this was contemplated by Article V, Section 1’s authority to grant quasi-

judicial power. The quasi-judicial power properly belongs to the CSB, and that power cannot be

delegated to its General Counsel.

The Florida Attorney General has opined regarding dual attorney roles during

administrative hearings:

“…it is the practice in administrative disciplinary hearings that the attorney for the
board acts to collect all evidence favorable and unfavorable to both the board and the
cited person. He further advises the board and prosecutes on behalf of the board in
such hearings. The mixing of certain functions of the board’s single attorney in such
a proceeding may violate the guaranty of due process that must be afforded the
person while fully protecting the state’s interest.”

Op. Atty. Gen. 072-64 (1972) (emphasis supplied). Further:

“Florida courts have also recognized that such mixing of functions—one attorney in
a dual role—is a denial of due process of law as required by the Fourteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 9, Declaration of Rights
of the Florida Constitution, in the cases of Metropolitan Dade County v. Florida
Processing Company, 218 So.2d 495 (Fla. 3d DCA 1969) and Corbett v. Churchwell,
215 So.2d 302 (Fla. 1968).”

Id.

The Attorney General Opinion admonishes about dual roles in a case involving an attorney

who wears both an advisory role and a prosecuting role. At bar, the roles served by the CSB’s

General Counsel are more disparate: the General Counsel acts as attorney and as judge. It follows

that if there should be concerns, as stated by the Attorney General and the cited case law, about

the dual roles served by an attorney who acts as advisor and prosecutor, then serving the dual roles

of attorney and judge should be an even more significant due process concern. See also, Brown

v. Walton County, 667 So.2d 376 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995) (procedural due process denied at a quasi

judicial proceeding where counsel acted as both an advocate and “proffered legal advice during

the hearing”); Cherry Communications v. Deason, 652 So.2d 803 (Fla. 1995) (“the playing field

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appears to have been tilted” when the prosecutor was “invited into the deliberations and his advice

was acted upon; “this adjudicatory process ‘can hardly be characterized as an unbiased, critical

review’”).

Based upon these case authorities, Florida courts have noted significant due process

concerns where a quasi-judicial board’s attorney begins to act in more than an advisory capacity.

At bar, there is an even greater concern since the CSB’s General Counsel has acted in a judicial

capacity. For this reason, the County’s due process rights were violated and certiorari is

appropriate.

The CSB Departed from the Essential Requirements of Law.

“’Departure from the essential requirements of law’ is defined the same way across all uses

of certiorari review: a violation of a clearly established principle of law resulting in a miscarriage

of justice.” Lacretta Restaurant v. Zepeda, 115 So.3d 1091, 1093 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013).

There were two “miscarriages of justice” at bar. First, the CSB’s revote of a decided

question violated basic notions of due process. The revote was analogous to having the verdict

read and the jurors polled, and then sending the jury back to deliberate some more.

The revote never should have been allowed. The revote constituted a “do-over” after the

case was already decided, which prejudiced the County. A “do-over” under these circumstances

constitutes the kind of miscarriage of justice that violates the essential requirements of law,

specifically, the County’s right to a fair hearing. A writ is appropriate to reverse the decision of

the CSB as to Rule 11.2(26).

The second “miscarriage of justice” at bar was the CSB General Counsel’s striking of

evidence and testimony during the hearing without having the authority to do so. Because of the

General Counsel’s striking of evidence, the County lost the opportunity to present that evidence to

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the CSB. This was another violation of the County’s due process rights that constituted a

“miscarriage of justice.” Because the County’s effort to present its case was impaired by the

General Counsel’s striking of evidence on several occasions, certiorari should be granted.

The administrative findings and judgment by the CSB were not supported by competent
substantial evidence.

The Court’s final determination on certiorari is whether the CSB’s ultimate findings and

judgment were not supported by competent substantial evidence. The Florida Supreme Court has

made clear that “the ‘competent substantial evidence’ standard cannot be used by a reviewing court

as a mechanism for exerting covert control over the policy determinations and factual findings of

the local agency.” Dusseau v. Metro Dade County, 794 So.2d 1275-76 (Fla. 2001).

The County’s argument on this point is that the absence of certain “stricken” evidence had

an impact on the case that the CSB was allowed to consider. The CSB’s administrative findings

and judgment were based upon the evidence that the CSB was allowed to hear. Yet some of the

evidence that the County sought to present was stricken by the CSB’s General Counsel. As

previously discussed the General Counsel had no authority to strike evidence or to make any

evidentiary rulings. By striking and restricting testimony at several stages of the case, the CSB

was not allowed to hear some evidence which may or may not have had an impact on their decision.

At this stage of the case it is not appropriate for this Court to weigh the question of whether the

stricken evidence may have impacted the CSB’s decision; the only issue at this stage for the Court

to consider is whether the CSB’s findings were supported by competent, substantial evidence.

In Newman v. State, 174 So.2d 479 (Fla. 2d DCA 1965), a defendant was found guilty

after a bench trial of disturbing the contents of a grave site. Newman filed a petition for certiorari,

which was granted. The Second DCA stated:

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“…questions of the weight and probative force of conflicting testimony ordinarily
may not be considered; and mere errors of procedure that do not obviously prejudice
fundamental rights, to the material injury of complaining parties, may not cause a
judgment to be quashed on certiorari; but serious irregularities or material
fundamental errors in applying the law, or the entire absence of essential
evidence with resulting material injury may be ground for quashing a judgment
on certiorari.”

Newman, 174 So.2d at 481 (emphasis supplied.)

As already discussed extensively above, the CSB’s General Counsel struck testimony or

denied the County’s attorney the opportunity to question witnesses at several points during the

hearing. If the elicited testimony had not been stricken, the CSB would have heard that testimony.

Again, this court may not engage in “questions of the weight and probative force of conflicting

testimony,” but this court may consider the fact that there was testimony which the CSB was not

allowed to hear because the General Counsel struck testimony and prevented questions from being

asked. There is no way that this Court, the County or anyone can assess whether in such a close

case, where one vote made all the difference, the stricken testimony would have made a difference.

Because the General Counsel’s striking of testimony resulted in an absence of evidence

with resulting material injury to the County’s due process rights, this Court has grounds to quash

the CSB’s order on certiorari. Id.

For all of the reasons stated, this petition should be granted and the CSB’s Order quashed.

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Thomas M. Gonzalez
Thomas M. Gonzalez
Florida Bar No: 192341
Thompson, Sizemore, Gonzalez & Hearing, P.A.
Street: 201 North Franklin Street, Suite 1600
Tampa, Florida 33602
Mail: P. O. Box 639
Tampa, Florida 33601
Telephone: (813) 273-0050

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Facsimile: (813) 273-0072
Email: tgonzalez@tsghlaw.com
Secondary Email; sknox@tsghlaw.com;
kharris@tsghlaw.com

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true copy of the foregoing was provided has been forwarded
via electronic mail and U.S. Mail to Peter W. Zinober, Esquire, Attorney for Hillsborough
County Civil Service Board, 101 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 1900, Tampa, FL 33602,
zinoberp@gtlaw.com on November 29, 2018.

/s/ Thomas M. Gonzalez
Thomas M. Gonzalez

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Filing # 81416480 E-Filed 11/29/2018 04:22:05 PM

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA
APPELLATE DIVISION

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR,

Petitioner,
Lower Tribunal Case No.:18-835
v. (Hillsborough Civil Service Board)

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY 18-CA-11650
CIVIL SERVICE BOARD, DIV K

Respondent.
______________________________________________________________________________

APPENDIX TO
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY’S PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI

/s/ Thomas M. Gonzalez
Thomas M. Gonzalez
Florida Bar No: 192341
Thompson, Sizemore, Gonzalez & Hearing, P.A.
Street: 201 North Franklin Street, Suite 1600
Tampa, Florida 33602
Mail: P. O. Box 639
Tampa, Florida 33601
Telephone: (813) 273-0050
Facsimile: (813) 273-0072
Email: tgonzalez@tsghlaw.com
Secondary Email: sknox@tsghlaw.com;
kharris@tsghlaw.com

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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I HEREBY CERTIFY that a true copy of the foregoing was provided has been forwarded
via electronic mail and U.S. Mail to Peter W. Zinober, Esquire, Attorney for Hillsborough
County Civil Service Board, 101 E. Kennedy Blvd., Suite 1900, Tampa, FL 33602,
zinoberp@gtlaw.com on November 29, 2018.

/s/ Thomas M. Gonzalez
Thomas M. Gonzalez
 

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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY FLORIDA
APPEALS DIVISION

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR,

Petitioner,
Lower Tribunal Case No.:18-835
v. (Hillsborough Civil Service Board)

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY
CIVIL SERVICE BOARD,

Respondent.

_________________________________/

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY’S
APPENDIX TO PETITION FOR CERTIORARI

INDEX

Tab No. Document

1 Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order
A-1 – A-9 dated October 30, 2018

2 Transcript of the October 12, 2018 Hearing of the
A-10 – A-356 Hillsborough County Civil Service Board

3 Civil Service Act, Chapter 2000-445 and 2014-230,
A-357 – A-372 Laws of Florida

4 Civil Service Rule 11
A-373 – A-382
5 Civil Service Rule 15
A-383 – A-407

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Tab. 1

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BEFORE THE HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY CIVIL SERVICE BOARD

TRAVENSKI LAWSON,

Appellant,
v. Docket No. 18-835

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY,
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR,

Appointing Authority.
/

FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND ORDER

This appeal came before the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board (the “Board”) on

October 17, 2018, for a final evidentiary hearing on the appeal of Travenski Lawson (the

“Appellant”) from his termination as a Residential Services Coordinator at Hillsborough County’s

Children’s Services Department’s Lake Magdalene Campus (the “Appointing Authority”). The

Board, comprised of Chairman Simon Canasi, Vice Chairman Ernie Trichler, and Members Neal

Carbaugh, Chandra Hosler, Andrea Cichon, and Tiffany Bell, having considered the evidence

and argument presented by the parties, hereby makes the following findings of fact and reaches

the following conclusions of law regarding this appeal:

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. On or about February 9, 2015, Appellant began employment with Hillsborough

County as a Residential Services Coordinator at Hillsborough County’s Children’s Services

Department’s Lake Magdalene Campus.

2. Appellant performed general supervisory/administrative duties at the

residential Lake Magdalene Campus for children 10 to 17 years old who are in the County’s

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care. Appellant’s responsibilities included planning, scheduling, coordinating, budgeting,

and controlling assigned resources to achieve departmental objectives.

3. On or about March 3, 2018, Appellant was working and present in the

cafeteria on the Lake Magdalene campus during a birthday party for a child who was aging

out of the program.

4. During the party, a thirteen-year-old female child approached Appellant and

slapped him on the face two or three times.

5. Video shows that Appellant made a sudden defensive movement after being

slapped on the face by the child. The Appointing Authority contends that Appellant slapped

the child. Appellant argues that he merely flinched and feigned, and that he never slapped

the child.

6. A Child Protective Investigator (“CPI”) employed by the Hillsborough

County Sheriff’s Office investigated the March 3, 2018 incident. The CPI closed the case

as not substantiated, meaning that he found Appellant had slapped the child, but that she

was not harmed and there was the no evidence of child abuse. He interviewed the child,

who denied that she had been struck.

7. The CPI and two witnesses with whom he spoke, Cynthia Simmons and

Michelle Veale, were among several individuals to testify at the hearing.

8. Ms. Simmons’ testimony contradicted her previous statements and conflicted

with the video of the incident. For example, Ms. Simmons testified that she witnessed the

incident, yet the video shows her looking in a different direction at the time of the alleged

2

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slap. Ms. Simmons also testified that Appellant immediately left the area after the incident

while the video shows Appellant staying in the same place and talking with the child after

the incident.

9. Ms. Veale’s testimony also contradicted her previous statements and

conflicted with the video of the incident.

10. Neither Ms. Simmons nor Ms. Veale immediately reported the alleged child

abuse despite their testimony that they witnessed and heard the alleged slap and despite

being mandatory reporters of child abuse under the law and County policy. For this failure

to report, they testified that they each received a coaching regarding the reporting

requirements.

11. The CPI testified that he only interviewed the individuals identified to him by

the County, and after viewing the video at the hearing, he agreed that Ms. Simmons was not

watching the alleged incident at the time it occurred and probably could not have witnessed the

incident. He failed to interview another child, identified as “baby girl”, who was standing

right next to Appellant and the child when the alleged slap occurred, because the Appointing

Authority failed to bring her to the attention of the CPI.

12. The child’s statements regarding the incident were also conflicting. For

example, the child’s guardian ad litem, Ginger Rockey-Johnson, testified that the child told her

that the Appellant slapped her on March 3, 2018. But the child told law enforcement and the

CPI that the Appellant did not slap her.

3

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13. Additionally, the quality of the video was poor, and it was difficult to make out

what transpired during the March 3, 2018 birthday party. The video showed the child slapping

Appellant and Appellant moving after being slapped. But the nature of the movement was not

clear. Indeed, one of the Appointing Authority’s managers testified that she viewed the video

15 times before she was able to form an opinion about what happened.

14. The witness testimony and exhibits also presented conflicting information

regarding the timing of the investigation by Human Resources, the CPI, and the Hillsborough

County Sheriff’s Office; the receipt and review of the investigation results; and the relationships

among the various investigations.

15. Soon after the incident, Appellant was placed on administrative leave, but

not before he was permitted to take a group of children on a field trip in a van.

16. After providing Appellant with a pre-disciplinary hearing, the County issued a

Civil Service Form 5 to Appellant dismissing him effective August 6, 2018.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

1. The Board has jurisdiction over this appeal by virtue of Appellant’s timely filing

of an appeal of his dismissal.

2. In an evidentiary hearing on a disciplinary appeal, Civil Service Rule 15.20(1)

provides that “[i]t is the responsibility of the Appellant or designated representative, to prove

by a preponderance of the evidence that the Agency lacked just cause for imposing discipline.

A ‘preponderance of the evidence’ simply means that amount of evidence which is enough to

persuade the Board that the facts asserted by the Appellant or designated representative, are

4

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more likely true than not true and that those facts do not support the Agency’s allegations that

the Appellant’s conduct constitutes a violation of the Civil Service Rules identified on the

formal notice of discipline (CS Form 5).”

3. Additionally, Civil Service Rule 15.20(3) provides that ‘“[i]n all Board hearings,

including hearings to consider motions of any type made by either party, the moving party must

prevail by a majority of the Board members present and voting. In the case of a discipline

appeal,” such as t•his one, “the appellant is the moving party.” Accordingly, in instances where

a majority of the Board voted to uphold any of Appellant’s alleged violations of the Civil

Service Rules at issue, Appellant would not prevail.

4. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under Civil Service Rule 11.2(1). Board Member Bell

seconded the Motion. By a vote of 5 to 1, the Board concludes that the Appellant has proved

he did not violate this Rule.

5. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under Civil Service Rule 11.2(2). Board Member Bell

seconded the Motion. By a vote of 5 to 1, the Board concludes that the Appellant has proved

he did not violate this Rule.

6. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under Civil Service Rule 11.2(4). Board Member Bell

seconded the Motion. By a vote of 5 to 1, the Board concludes that the Appellant has proved

he did not violate this Rule.

5

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7. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under Civil Service Rule 11.2(6). Board Member Bell

seconded the Motion. By a vote of 5 to 1, the Board concludes that the Appellant has proved

he did not violate this Rule.

8. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under Civil Service Rule 11.2(13). Board Member Bell

seconded the Motion. By a vote of 4 to 2, the Board concludes that the Appellant has proved

he did not violate this Rule.

9. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under Civil Service Rule 11.2(26). Board Member Bell

seconded the Motion. By a vote of 4 to 2, the Board concludes that the Appellant has proved

he did not violate this Rule.

10. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under Civil Service Rule 11.2(32). Board Member Bell

seconded the Motion. By a vote of 5 to 1, the Board concludes that the Appellant has proved

he did not violate this Rule.

11. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under County Administration/Human Resources Policy

7.5. Board Member Bell seconded the Motion. By a vote of 4 to 2, the Board concludes that

the Appellant has proved he did not violate this policy.

12. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under County Administration/Human Resources Policy

6

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7.6(1). Board Member Bell seconded the Motion. By a vote of 4 to 2, the Board concludes

that the Appellant has proved he did not violate this policy.

13. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under County Administration/Human Resources Policy

7.6(2). Board Member Bell seconded the Motion. By unanimous vote, the Board concludes

that the Appellant has proved he did not violate this policy.

14. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under County Administration/Human Resources Policy

7.6(4). Board Member Bell seconded the Motion. By unanimous vote, the Board concludes

that the Appellant has proved he did not violate this policy.

15. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under County Administration/Human Resources Policy

7.6(5). Board Member Bell seconded the Motion. By unanimous vote, the Board concludes

that the Appellant has proved he did not violate this policy.

16. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under County Administration/Human Resources Policy

7.6(6). Board Member Bell seconded the Motion. By unanimous vote, the Board concludes

that the Appellant has proved he did not violate this policy.

17. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under County Administration/Human Resources Policy

7.6(13). Board Member Bell seconded the Motion. By a vote of 5 to 1, the Board concludes

that the Appellant has proved he did not violate this policy.

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18. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under County Administration/Human Resources Policy

7.6(26). Board Member Bell seconded the Motion. By a vote of 4 to 2, the Board concludes

that the Appellant has proved he did not violate this policy.

19. Board member Trichler moved that the Board find that there was no just

cause for Appellant’s termination under County Administration/Human Resources Policy

7.6(32). Board Member Bell seconded the Motion. By unanimous vote, the Board concludes

that the Appellant has proved he did not violate this policy.

20. Because the Board has concluded that the Appellant has carried his burden to

establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he did not violate any of the charged Civil

Service Rules or County Administrative/Human Resources Policies, the decision of the

Appointing Authority to terminate Appellant is hereby REVERSED pursuant to Civil Service

Rule 15.15(a).

21. The Appointing Authority is ORDERED to provide appropriate make whole relief to

Appellant pursuant to Civil Service Rule 15.24, including reinstatement of employment.

IT IS SO ORDERED this 30th day of October 2018, at Tampa, Hillsborough County,

Florida.

SIGNATURE ON FILE SIGNATURE ON FILE
Chairman Simon Canasi Andrea Cichon

SIGNATURE ON FILE SIGNATURE ON FILE
Tiffany Bell Chandra Hosler

SIGNATURE ON FILE SIGNATURE ON FILE
Neal Carbaugh Vice Chairman Ernie Trichler

8

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Tab. 2

29/430 Baylawsuits.com
1
BEFORE THE HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY CIVIL SERVICE BOARD

TRAVENSKI LAWSON,

Appellant,

vs. DOCKET NO. 18-835

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY COUNTY
ADMINISTRATOR,

Appointing Authority.
__________________________________/

TRANSCRIPT OF: PROCEEDINGS

BEFORE: Hillsborough County Civil Service
Board

DATE: October 17, 2018

TIME: 7:00 p.m.

PLACE: Hillsborough County Center
601 East Kennedy Boulevard
18th Floor
Tampa, Florida

REPORTED BY: Sherry L. Frain
Notary Public
State of Florida at Large

30/430 Baylawsuits.com A-10
2
APPEARANCES:

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY CIVIL SERVICE BOARD:

Simon Canasi, Chair
Tiffany Bell
Neal Carbaugh
Andrea Cichon
Chandra Hosler
Ernie Trichler

DANIELLE R. GREEN, ESQUIRE
Senior Assistant County Attorney
601 East Kennedy Boulevard, 27th Floor
Tampa, Florida 33602
Appeared for Appointing Authority

PETER W. ZINOBER, ESQUIRE
Greenberg Traurig
Suite 1900
101 East Kennedy Boulevard
Tampa, Florida 33602
Appeared for Civil Service Board

31/430 Baylawsuits.com A-11
3
INDEX

Opening Statement by Ms. Green 17
Opening Statement by Mr. Lawson 23

WITNESS:

GINGER ROCKEY-JOHNSON

Direct Examination by Ms. Green 35
Cross-Examination by Mr. Lawson 45
Redirect Examination by Ms. Green 47
Examination by Ms. Bell 48
Examination by Mr. Carbaugh 50, 52
Examination by Ms. Cichon 51
Further Redirect Examination by Ms. Green 53
Recross-Examination by Mr. Lawson 53
Further Redirect Examination by Ms. Green 54

WITNESS:

RHONDA RHODES

Direct Examination by Ms. Green 55
Cross-Examination by Mr. Lawson 68
Examination by Ms. Hosler 76, 84, 87, 92, 94,
100, 102, 107, 109
Examination by Mr. Trichler 79
Examination by Ms. Bell 80, 86, 91, 99,
103, 105, 108

Examination by Mr. Canasi 88, 98, 111
Examination by Ms. Cichon 93
Redirect Examination by Ms. Green 95
Recross-Examination by Mr. Lawson 101, 112

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4
WITNESS:

CYNTHIA VERONICA SIMMONS

Direct Examination by Ms. Green 122
Cross-Examination by Mr. Lawson 133
Examination by Ms. Hosler 144, 156, 165,
168, 176
Examination by Mr. Trichler 148, 166
Examination by Mr. Canasi 150, 152, 155
Examination by Ms. Bell 152, 154, 155,
156, 167, 171
Examination by Ms. Cichon 154, 164, 166
Examination by Mr. Carbaugh 155, 170
Redirect Examination by Ms. Green 176

WITNESS:

KYLE RICHARD GREGORY

Direct Examination by Ms. Green 180
Cross-Examination by Mr. Lawson 186
Examination by Mr. Canasi 187
Examination by Mr. Carbaugh 188, 195
Examination by Ms. Bell 190, 192, 198
Examination by Ms. Cichon 192, 194
Redirect Examination by Ms. Green 197
Examination by Ms. Hosler 199
Redirect Examination by Ms. Green 200

WITNESS:

MICHELLE BUCHANAN VEALE

Direct Examination by Ms. Green 202

Cross-Examination by Mr. Lawson 209, 215

Examination by Ms. Bell 215, 217, 218, 224,
226, 227, 230, 232, 234
Examination by Ms. Hosler 215, 218, 226, 229,
231, 233, 234, 235
Examination by Mr. Trichler 216, 217
Examination by Mr. Canasi 217, 223
Examination by Ms. Cichon 229, 234

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5
WITNESS:

BEVERLY WALDRON

Direct Examination by Ms. Green 237
Cross-Examination by Mr. Lawson 241
Examination by Ms. Hosler 243, 246
Examination by Ms. Bell 243

WITNESS:

JOANN ROLLINS

Direct Examination by Ms. Green 249
Cross-Examination by Mr. Lawson 251
Examination by Mr. Canasi 260
Examination by Ms. Bell 264, 268
Examination by Mr. Trichler 266

WITNESS:

TRENESIA STRONG

Direct Examination by Mr. Lawson 284
Examination by Ms. Bell 287, 289
Examination by Mr. Trichler 288
Examination by Ms. Cichon 289

Closing Statement by Ms. Green 290
Closing Statement by Mr. Lawson 299

Board deliberations 301

34/430 Baylawsuits.com A-14
6
1 The transcript of proceedings, before the

2 Hillsborough County Civil Service Board, on the 17th

3 day of October, 2018, at Hillsborough County Center,

4 601 East Kennedy Boulevard, 18th Floor, Tampa,

5 Florida, beginning at 7:00 p.m., reported by Sherry

6 L. Frain, Notary Public, State of Florida at Large.

7 * * * * * * * * * *

8 PROCEEDINGS

9 MR. CANASI: We're going to going to call

10 the hearing to order. Roll call, please.

11 MR. GUERRERO: Good evening. Canasi?

12 MR. CANASI: Here.

13 MR. GUERRERO: Trichler?

14 MR. TRICHLER: Here.

15 MR. GUERRERO: Bell?

16 MS. BELL: Here.

17 MR. GUERRERO: Carbaugh?

18 MR. CARBAUGH: Here.

19 MR. GUERRERO: Cichon?

20 MS. CICHON: Here.

21 MR. GUERRERO: Hosler?

22 MS. HOSLER: Here.

23 MR. GUERRERO: Strepina? Thank you.

24 You have a quorum.

25 MR. CANASI: Thank you. Before I turn

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7
1 this over to Mr. Zinober, I think it's

2 imperative that I make a couple of disclosures

3 here. First of all, the Lake Magdalene

4 facility is in my neighborhood, so I'm very

5 well aware of it.

6 In the past before some of these board

7 members were even on this board, we had

8 numerous hearings here for employees that had

9 been dismissed. And after a while I was

10 starting to get very concerned about that,

11 especially since it's in my neighborhood. And

12 therefore, Carl Harness invited me out to the

13 facility and gave me the grand tour so that I

14 could become familiar with what they did over

15 there and also to assure me that part of the

16 reason that we had had so many hearings was

17 that there was a bit of cleaning house going on

18 over there.

19 And I won't say that to make anyone think

20 that in any way I am going to be prejudicial

21 in how I'm going to rule on this when it gets

22 to that point, but I think it is proper me for

23 me to at least disclose it. So at this point,

24 given that I've made that disclosure, I would

25 like to ask counsel if you have any objections

36/430 Baylawsuits.com A-16
8
1 to me serving.

2 MS. GREEN: Do you have any concerns

3 about looking at the evidence objectively, sir?

4 MR. CANASI: I'm sorry?

5 MS. GREEN: Do you have any concerns

6 about your ability to look at the evidence

7 objectively, sir?

8 MR. CANASI: With what is written, I can

9 look at objectively. If there's any videos, I

10 will look at it objectively as long as it's not

11 edited.

12 MS. GREEN: I am not sure how that --

13 MR. CANASI: Well, I would want to -- if

14 there's any video, because I know there's

15 cameras in the facility --

16 MS. GREEN: Sure, sure.

17 MR. CANASI: So if any part of the

18 evidence has to do with anything that was

19 caught on camera, I would want to see the whole

20 thing, beginning to end.

21 MS. GREEN: Okay. The parties got

22 together and decided which videos would be

23 joint exhibits.

24 MR. CANASI: Okay.

25 MS. GREEN: There's three videos. One is

37/430 Baylawsuits.com A-17
9
1 the full length, regular speed. Two are just

2 shortened to make things quicker. One of the

3 shortened ones highlights what's happening in

4 the top of the screen with a box, but nothing

5 has been altered.

6 MR. CANASI: Okay. We should be all

7 right.

8 MS. GREEN: If you feel you can review

9 the evidence objectively, we don't have any

10 objection to you participating.

11 MR. CANASI: Okay. Mr. Lawson?

12 MR. LAWSON: No objection.

13 MR. CANASI: Thank you very much.

14 (Discussion off the record.)

15 MR. ZINOBER: We're here this evening in

16 order to hear the appeal by Travenski Lawson of

17 his dismissal by Hillsborough County. Are the

18 parties present and prepared to proceed for the

19 county?

20 MS. GREEN: Yes.

21 MR. ZINOBER: Would you introduce

22 yourself and your client?

23 MS. GREEN: Sure. Danielle Green with

24 the county attorney's office. To my left is

25 Melissa Wren. She's a paralegal from our

38/430 Baylawsuits.com A-18
10
1 office. And to my right is JoAnn Rollins.

2 She's our client representative. She's the

3 director of the Children's Service Department.

4 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, would you

5 introduce yourself?

6 MR. LAWSON: Travenski Lawson, appellant.

7 MR. ZINOBER: Thank you. The CS Forms 5

8 and 5A were stipulated into evidence and

9 accepted into evidence at the prehearing

10 conference as Board Composite Exhibit 1.

11 The parties succeeded in negotiating a

12 stipulation at the prehearing that was

13 submitted and accepted at the prehearing

14 conference and it was reviewed by all parties

15 at the prehearing conference.

16 There were stipulated issues for

17 determination by the board. There were

18 stipulated facts and there were stipulated

19 exhibits. And anything that was stipulated

20 should have been submitted to members of the

21 Board approximately five days before the

22 hearing. We do this so that the board members

23 can review those stipulations and documents and

24 limit the amount of time necessary for the

25 hearing.

39/430 Baylawsuits.com A-19
11
1 The exhibits that have not been

2 stipulated to must be moved into evidence by

3 whichever party wants them in evidence. So if

4 there was no stipulation as to an exhibit, the

5 party must move it into evidence. We'll hear

6 positions of the parties on that exhibit and

7 then I'll make an evidentiary ruling. Any

8 ruling I make at this hearing is immediately

9 appealable to the board.

10 At this time, let me ask the parties

11 whether they would like to have the

12 sequestration rule invoked. Mr. Lawson?

13 MR. LAWSON: Is that when all witnesses

14 step out and come in one at a time?

15 MR. ZINOBER: Correct.

16 MR. LAWSON: Yes, I would.

17 MR. ZINOBER: Would all of you who are

18 here in the hearing room and who have been

19 called to testify as witnesses in this case

20 rise and step forward to be sworn? Okay. If

21 you could move forward and the court clerk will

22 swear you in.

23 (Mr. Guerrero administers oath to all

24 witnesses.)

25 MR. ZINOBER: Ladies and gentlemen, let

40/430 Baylawsuits.com A-20
12
1 me explain. The sequestration rule has been

2 invoked. Some of you may already know this,

3 but the purpose of this rule is to avoid

4 prejudicing your testimony by the testimony of

5 individuals who appear in the hearing room

6 before you do.

7 And so each witness who testifies will

8 testify without any other potential witnesses

9 being present to hear their testimony. Only

10 after your testimony has been given and you

11 have been released by either side in this case

12 can you return to the hearing room and hear the

13 proceedings. But, absent that, you are being

14 excluded in order to avoid prejudicing your

15 testimony in the future.

16 In addition, I would request that you not

17 discuss any of your testimony. And I'm sure

18 that you have had conversations with counsel or

19 paralegals or individuals who called you, and

20 you may have a rough idea of why you're here.

21 I would ask you not to discuss your

22 potential testimony with any other potential

23 witness until after you've been called to

24 testify and excused by both parties from the

25 hearing. Do you have any questions?

41/430 Baylawsuits.com A-21
13
1 (All witnesses said no.)

2 MR. ZINOBER: Thank you. Let me cover a

3 couple of preliminary issues for the record.

4 One, the appellant, in this case, Mr. Lawson,

5 has the burden to prove by a preponderance of

6 the evidence that Hillsborough County did not

7 have cause to terminate his employment under

8 each section of the Civil Service Board's Rules

9 11.2, and each administrative policy of

10 Hillsborough County voted on individually by

11 the members of the board. These have all been

12 identified in the CS Form 5.

13 There are six board members present. In

14 the event of a three/three tie as to any rule

15 or policy -- in other words, three votes

16 finding cause and three votes finding no cause

17 -- in that event, the appellant does not

18 prevail because the appellant has the burden of

19 proving his case by a preponderance of the

20 evidence, and so a three/three tie is resolved

21 in favor of Hillsborough County.

22 Each side will have up to 90 minutes to

23 present their case. What that means is -- and

24 I assume that the timekeeper is the clerk of

25 the court. And we have a running clock there

42/430 Baylawsuits.com A-22
14
1 to help the parties. And each side will have

2 up to 90 minutes. Included in that 90 minutes

3 is opening statement, closing statement, direct

4 examination, cross-examination and the argument

5 as to motions.

6 If there are board-member questions

7 that are directed to either side during the

8 hearing which occurs -- because after every

9 single witness, board members are invited to

10 question witnesses or counsel. It's their

11 privilege. And response to board-member

12 questions does not come off of your allotted

13 time.

14 But all other activities, either of

15 counsel or pro se appellant, would come off of

16 the 90 minutes, and you'll be able to see how

17 much time is left of your 90 minutes at any

18 point during the hearing. The pro se appellant

19 -- and, Mr. Lawson, I did not cover this at the

20 prehearing conference, which is why I'm

21 covering it now.

22 You will have the option of either making

23 an opening statement after the county does.

24 The county always goes first. You will have

25 the option of either making your opening

43/430 Baylawsuits.com A-23
15
1 statement after the county, following which the

2 county will put on its case, or you can reserve

3 your opening statement until the beginning of

4 your case.

5 If you do that, you can consolidate your

6 opening statement and your direct examination,

7 and we have had unrepresented appellants who

8 have chosen that option because it combines the

9 opening statement and the direct examination.

10 Following that, you would be put under oath.

11 Following your opening statement and direct

12 examination, the county would then

13 cross-examine you. Simply I will ask you

14 whether you want to make an opening statement,

15 and you're free to make it. And that will come

16 after the county's opening statement.

17 Are there any other housekeeping matters

18 that we have to address prior to presenting

19 opening statements?

20 MS. GREEN: Just a few. They're pretty

21 simple. The parties have spoken ahead of time

22 about protecting the privacy of the children in

23 care at Lake Mag by referring to children using

24 their initials. And the child who is basically

25 at the center of the case, we'll refer to her

44/430 Baylawsuits.com A-24
16
1 as "the child" or "LG," her initials. And the

2 parties agreed on that. Yes? Okay.

3 A couple of other things. I'll be using

4 the large monitor in my opening, and Mr. Lawson

5 is already aware of that as well. We're going

6 to bring it front and center and then we'll

7 push it back so it doesn't impede the rest, and

8 we'll do the same thing at closing arguments.

9 And I suffered a back injury last week,

10 so I might have to stand up and sit down, stand

11 up and sit down. But I want to let you know

12 ahead of time, it's not because I'm not paying

13 attention.

14 MR. CANASI: That makes two of us, don't

15 worry about it, only mine was last night.

16 MS. GREEN: Wait one more. So is there

17 just one clock? It's been awhile. There's one

18 clock, and so it toggles back and forth? Do

19 you turn it to Mr. Lawson so he can see how

20 much time he has?

21 MR. GUERRERO: Yes.

22 MS. GREEN: Okay. Just wanted to make

23 sure.

24 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, any

25 housekeeping matters that you want to present?

45/430 Baylawsuits.com A-25
17
1 MR. LAWSON: No, sir.

2 MR. ZINOBER: Are we ready to go?

3 MR. LAWSON: Yes, sir.

4 MR. ZINOBER: Ms. Green?

5 MS. GREEN: Just a minute to move the

6 screen and then we'll be ready.

7 MR. CANASI: Can you see it, Mr. Lawson?

8 MR. LAWSON: I've seen it before. Thank

9 you.

10 MR. CANASI: I want to make sure you can

11 see it because if there's something in there

12 that I'm going to ask you about, you're going

13 to have to look at it.

14 MR. LAWSON: I watched it a million

15 times.

16 MS. GREEN: Board members, counsel, we

17 are here tonight because an employee slapped a

18 child. The appellant, Mr. Lawson, worked as a

19 Residential Services Coordinator on the Lake

20 Magdalene campus of the county Children's

21 Services Department beginning in 2015.

22 The Lake Magdalene campus, a/k/a Lake

23 Mag, is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week

24 operation. At that location, 365 days a year,

25 the county provides temporary housing,

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18
1 supervision, counseling and other services to

2 children placed in the county's care. Most of

3 these children have been removed from their

4 homes due to abuse or neglect. The county is

5 responsible for the children's safety and

6 welfare.

7 Mr. Lawson managed the Lake Magdalene

8 campus and all the staff caring for the

9 children during his assigned shifts. The staff

10 at Lake Mag employ the principles of NAPPI,

11 which is an acronym that stands for Non-Abusive

12 Psychological and Physical Intervention. Staff

13 members, including Mr. Lawson, are expected to

14 establish appropriate boundaries with the

15 children in their care.

16 The department provides staff NAPPI

17 training, which teaches how to utilize

18 prevention and verbal de-escalation techniques

19 when managing children's behavior. The

20 department's policy on that topic states, and I

21 quote, every effort will be made to assure that

22 the youth feels safe and accepted, end quote.

23 Children's Services prohibits staff from

24 hitting children in their care.

25 Turning to the events of March 3, 2018, a

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19
1 birthday party was thrown for a child and it

2 was held in Lake Mag's cafeteria, which is also

3 referred to as the dining room. Mr. Lawson

4 entered the dining room while the party was in

5 full swing.

6 As the Residential Services Coordinator

7 on duty that night, he was the highest-ranking

8 staff member on campus, and he was effectively

9 the supervisor of every Child Care Specialist

10 and senior Child Care Specialist present.

11 Shortly after he entered the dining hall,

12 a female child approached him and slapped him

13 on the face approximately three times. After

14 the third slap, Mr. Lawson hit the child back.

15 Two employees on duty saw Mr. Lawson hit the

16 child. Shortly after Mr. Lawson hit the child,

17 the party broke up. One of the eyewitnesses to

18 Mr. Lawson hitting the child, whose name is

19 Cynthia Simmons, was cleaning up in the dining

20 hall after the children had left.

21 Mr. Lawson approached her. He apologized

22 to Ms. Simmons for losing his composure and for

23 hitting the child. He also said to Ms. Simmons

24 words to the effect that it was a natural

25 reaction to slap someone back when he got

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1 slapped.

2 I'm going to show an excerpt of the video

3 surveillance. I'm going to show three

4 different versions. The first one is short.

5 It's trimmed to show just the action that's at

6 issue. And there's a box that shows you where

7 Mr. Lawson and the child are in the video so

8 that the second time you see it without the

9 boxes, and the third time, which will be full

10 length, you will be focused where Mr. Lawson

11 and the child end up.

12 (Playing video.)

13 MS. GREEN: So at the top in the burgundy

14 shirt is Mr. Lawson, and the child is in the

15 white shirt. I'm going to show the shortened

16 version again without the boxes if I can do it

17 right. My apologies.

18 I'm going to take you now to the longer

19 version that shows a little more before and a

20 lot more after, and I'm going to point out

21 who's who and who's where. Right here, you'll

22 see Cynthia Simmons. Here's the child with the

23 white T-shirt.

24 This lady with the hat is Michelle Veale,

25 and then again, Mr. Lawson is at the top of the

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1 frame in the burgundy shirt. At this point,

2 Ms. Keyonna Tate approaches. She's a staff

3 member as well. She's got kind of a

4 grayish/bluish shirt on and long pants.

5 And there you see Ms. Veale, Ms. Tate and

6 Mr. Lawson in the same vicinity. So, again,

7 Ms. Simmons is the one on the stool. Ms. Veale

8 was the one with the ball cap. A couple of

9 times when I watched this, my eyes blinked and

10 I missed the whole thing. So at this point,

11 I'm going to go back to the trimmed version

12 that doesn't have boxes and then I'll step away

13 and resume opening.

14 The Hillsborough County Sheriff's' Office

15 Child Protective Investigation unit

16 investigated Mr. Lawson's conduct as potential

17 child abuse. Those investigators are commonly

18 referred to as CPIs. When the CPI unit

19 investigates whether an adult hit a child,

20 there are three ways they can close the case,

21 and they're not really intuitive, so I'm going

22 to walk you through them. They weren't

23 intuitive to me.

24 First, no indicators of any abuse. On

25 the other end of the spectrum, they can close

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1 the case with verified findings. The third

2 choice falls somewhere in the middle, not

3 substantiated. When investigating whether an

4 adult hit a child, the CPI must determine

5 whether the hit happened and, if so, whether

6 enough injury was caused to be considered child

7 abuse.

8 In those circumstances if the CPI closes

9 the case, no indicators of any abuse, there was

10 no evidence the hit happened. If the CPI

11 closes the case verified findings, the CPI

12 determined the hit happened and enough injury

13 was caused to be considered child abuse.

14 Finally, if the CPI closes the case not

15 substantiated when investigating whether an

16 adult hit a child, then there was not enough

17 evidence for verified findings but there was

18 some evidence of child abuse. The hit

19 happened, but there was no injury or not enough

20 injury to constitute child abuse.

21 In this case, the CPI interviewed

22 multiple witnesses including but not limited to

23 Mr. Lawson, Ms. Simmons, Ms. Veale and the

24 child. Now, despite Mr. Lawson's admissions to

25 Ms. Simmons on the night of the incident, when

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1 he spoke to the CPI, Mr. Lawson denied hitting

2 the child. The CPI considered Mr. Lawson's

3 denial and the interviews of Ms. Simmons, Ms.

4 Veale and the child.

5 The CPI also took into consideration his

6 own review of the surveillance video. The CPI

7 determined Mr. Lawson slapped the child, but

8 there was no evidence to injury to the child as

9 a result of the slap. Because of those

10 findings, the CPI closed the case not

11 substantiated, meaning there was some evidence

12 of child abuse but not enough evidence for

13 verified findings.

14 It's important to note if the CPI had

15 concluded Mr. Lawson had not slapped the child,

16 he would have recommended the case be closed,

17 no indicators.

18 Thank you for your attention.

19 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, you're free to

20 -- if you're going to use the video, you

21 probably ought to get up so you can use the

22 mouse. Right?

23 MR. LAWSON: Yes, sir.

24 Good evening, everyone. I'll be going to

25 the video a little bit later, but I want to

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1 initiate, at least start my opening statement.

2 As I stand before you again for the

3 second time in this many years, I can't help

4 but to wonder what feathers I have ruffled. I

5 ask this because I've worked with kids on and

6 off for the last 19 years, for the last 13

7 years being without interruption, and I was

8 never ever the subject of an abusive allegation

9 until becoming employed by Children's Services.

10 Since working with this agency, I have

11 had four abuse calls called in on me, three of

12 which was called in by administration, none of

13 which were verified, yet I stand here to prove

14 my innocence after being cleared by law

15 enforcement and CPI.

16 The series of meetings, the hearing, the

17 situation altogether could have been avoided if

18 an unbiased investigation was conducted by

19 either Children's Services or human resources

20 or both, for that matter, but it wasn't.

21 Ever since my children to Children's

22 Services after the last appeal, I have walked

23 on eggshells because I felt I would be a target

24 of retaliation, but my love for the population

25 we served motivated me to keep going. So as

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1 more and more became overwhelming, I made two

2 indirect cries for help to HR with the latter

3 evidently taking it over the edge.

4 Shortly after the new year, an abuse call

5 was made on me and accepted on three concerns

6 -- I'm sorry, on three concerns of Children's

7 Services. As they mentioned, it was after

8 consulting with HR, ranging from October to

9 December, neither of which was considered abuse

10 once CPI got involved.

11 One of these concerns made me wonder how

12 my name was even involved, how was I

13 identified. How would the complainant know to

14 contact Children's Services if I did do

15 something wrong when I don't wear my shirts

16 outside of the job. After that, I was even

17 more cautious, and then this.

18 An abuse call on physical abuse with

19 conflicting stories, missing staff and youth

20 statements. Out of 24 to 25 individuals in the

21 cafeteria, only three individuals were

22 interviewed by HR. Only five were interviewed

23 by CPI, and video footage that does not support

24 the allegation but emphasizes their perception.

25 I'm going to step up and go over footage now so

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1 we can review the footage, and then I'll

2 continue.

3 (Playing video.)

4 MR. LAWSON: This is the entire frame for

5 the video. Of course, as you mentioned, they

6 pointed out where everyone is sitting. Ms.

7 Cynthia is in the chair, Ms. Michelle in the

8 ball cap, and it's me in the back of the

9 cafeteria. This is the youth in question, LG.

10 Right here, LG walks up to me. I'm going to

11 pause it right there.

12 At that time, you can tell by her

13 demeanor, she's playing, she's not even making

14 contact with my face. The last time when she

15 was doing it -- I'll pause it again -- she

16 stopped by my face and she touched me. I

17 flinched, which automatically made her go up

18 and move back.

19 So never would you see my hand. I can go

20 through this video. Sorry. My hands are kind

21 of shaking because I'm nervous, but it won't

22 even let me slow it down. It does it on my

23 computer, but it's not letting me slow it down.

24 But with a slow version of this video, you

25 don't see my hand.

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1 Press play. You never see my hand swing,

2 come close to the individual. And when she

3 moved, my hand is by the cup. But, of course,

4 by sudden movement, you're going to

5 automatically feel that something could have

6 happened. Nothing is definitive there. But

7 for our two key witnesses, Ms. Cynthia Simmons

8 and Ms. Michelle Veale, who say they saw

9 everything that happened, neither one of them

10 made any attempt to even come over if they

11 actually saw a slap.

12 If I slapped a child in front of an

13 adult, they're going to at least get up out of

14 their seat and make some kind of motion coming

15 to intervene. Ms. Cynthia is still sitting in

16 the chair unbothered.

17 Michelle is standing right here with her

18 phone in her hand unbothered, so there's

19 nothing that could have happened right there.

20 No adult in their right mind would see an

21 individual, a man, slap a thirteen-year-old kid

22 and just sit there and not even approach.

23 They sat here the whole time and just

24 looking around. No efforts, no anything,

25 despite what they're saying, "Oh, I went over

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1 there and say, 'You better move,' "I did this,

2 I did that." None of that happened. Like I

3 said, this is not definitive. All you see is a

4 sudden movement by me and the kid goes up like

5 this, and they're saying I slapped the child.

6 I have daughters of my own. I have kids.

7 I have sons. I don't slap my own kids. I'm

8 not going to slap kids here. And I positioned

9 myself right here because of what I've been

10 going through so I can remain on camera.

11 I stayed right there by the door the

12 whole time. And Ms. Simmons said shortly

13 thereafter, the party was over. Once we called

14 in the witnesses -- they say this happened

15 between 8:00 and 8:30. The party wasn't over

16 till 10, no interruption in the party. So how

17 do a staff, a grown -- an adult slap a kid and

18 you continue to allow a party go on?

19 We're in ratio. No staff stepped out and

20 called abuse. No staff thinks to call their

21 supervisor. Nothing happens. I come back to

22 work the next day. If I just slapped a child,

23 why am I at work the next day? If I lost my

24 composure -- which you can tell I didn't in

25 this video because I'm still just standing

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1 there like this. If I lost my composure and I

2 slapped a kid, could have caused them injury,

3 why am I allowed to be at work the next day

4 around kids again less that 24 hours after this

5 happened?

6 No law enforcement called, no CPI, no

7 supervisors, no interventions called, but I was

8 the whole day. I didn't hear anything about me

9 supposedly slapping the kid until after Ms.

10 Rhonda called me the next day and told me

11 there was a call that was called in on me.

12 So, once again, an adult slapped a child,

13 no staff even makes a step to get out of their

14 seat, go and separate the two. That couldn't

15 have happened. Ms. Michelle is a case manager,

16 she knows, she's been in the field for quite

17 some time. Ms. Cynthia was a director of a

18 program. She's been in the field for quite

19 some time, but neither one of them even made

20 any motion to come to us, which lets you know

21 that nothing really happened.

22 The video is misleading because I

23 can't slow it down, but it's showing you there,

24 no one got up and no one made any effort. You

25 see sudden movements. You don't see my hand.

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1 You don't see contact. You see none of that.

2 Today my focus is on proving my innocense

3 and showing that these accusations and this

4 situation would not have been necessary if the

5 energy and the effort used to dismiss me was

6 also used to prove my innocence. That's what a

7 supportive employer would have focused on. It

8 is easy to say someone else is wrong and must

9 be disciplined to take a legitimate look at the

10 evidence as if your own livelihood was on the

11 line.

12 In the prehearing conference, Ms. Green

13 mentioned, if the board determines that you did

14 not slap or make contact with the youth, the

15 dismissal should not be overturned because you

16 swung at the child. I was terminated for

17 supposedly slapping a kid. Then she said I

18 swung. If I was able to slow the video down --

19 which I asked before, would we be able to

20 control the speed. I was told yes.

21 But if I was able to, I would be able to

22 show you that at no point in time do you see my

23 hand raise here, go here, come here, do

24 anything, no follow-through anything. Once the

25 kid moved, you see my hand in front of my cup.

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1 If I was to slap a kid and lose my composure, I

2 would be doing so much more than that. I would

3 not be able to hold a cup of tea in my hand,

4 switch my hand, then take ahold of the kid's

5 hands and tell here to stop playing. I

6 wouldn't be able to do that.

7 But although I never swung at the child,

8 I feel that the agency is aware that the

9 allegations against me are false. But instead

10 of admitting that the decision to dismiss me

11 was incorrect, they would rather continue

12 through with the hearing to hope that I can't

13 prove my innocence. In this case, it's sad,

14 because once integrity was overshadowed by

15 their pride.

16 MR. CANASI: Can we get that -- is there

17 any way to get that slowed down?

18 MS. GREEN: I can't slow that down, no.

19 MR. CANASI: I would like it played back.

20 I want to get up real close to it. With these

21 glasses, I can't seem to get focused.

22 MS. GREEN: Did he stop his clock? I

23 don't want him to run out of time.

24 MR. CANASI: Yes.

25 (Playing video.)

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1 MR. CANASI: I allowed to ask any

2 questions now?

3 MR. ZINOBER: Sure.

4 MR. CANASI: What are you two talking

5 about right here after that incident? Because

6 she's still there talking to you.

7 MR. LAWSON: When I brought her back up,

8 I told her, you know, "You shouldn't be playing

9 like that." And she just stood there and she

10 just had a regular conversation.

11 MR. CANASI: Okay. And then there was an

12 adult that had come up to you?

13 MR. LAWSON: Ms. Tate. The one right

14 there, the one that's there now, the one that

15 came from the top of the screen and came --

16 MR. CANASI: No, no, beforehand. I'm

17 sorry.

18 MS. BELL: I would like to know who the

19 minor child is with the ponytail that's

20 standing right there in the red shirt.

21 MR. LAWSON: The one in the corner? Red

22 shirt? Her initials are KH.

23 MR. CANASI: Who is this person right

24 here?

25 MR. LAWSON: Keyonna Tate. She came

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1 over. She saw me hold her hand. She was like,

2 "Everything okay?"

3 I was like, "Yeah, she's just playing."

4 She was like, "You know you can't play

5 like that because you know how people will look

6 at it." And she walked off.

7 MR. CANASI: Unfortunately, the

8 resolution in this is not very good. I had to

9 come up close. With these progressive glasses,

10 I couldn't get the right focus no matter which

11 lens I looked through. And still as I'm this

12 close -- one last time.

13 MS. GREEN: Sure.

14 MS. BELL: I find watching the cup helps.

15 MR. CANASI: And I would think that each

16 one of you may want to come up here. But I can

17 see where she's touching your face, and when

18 you swung, you connected.

19 MR. LAWSON: That was her hand that went

20 up like this.

21 MR. CANASI: Do it again.

22 MR. LAWSON: Watch her left hand. Her

23 left hand goes up.

24 MR. CANASI: Okay. You're right.

25 MR. CARBAUGH: Would it help looking at

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1 the blown-up version that's in the box that

2 expands?

3 MR. CANASI: Can you do that?

4 MS. GREEN: I can.

5 MR. CANASI: I should have brought my

6 computer tonight because then I could really

7 see it better. Can you blow that up?

8 MS. GREEN: Of course. It will end soon

9 and I can just hit play again.

10 MS. BELL: It's at the bottom of the

11 screen.

12 MR. CANASI: One more time.

13 MS. GREEN: Here we go.

14 MR. CANASI: Down here in this box.

15 Gotcha. Okay.

16 MR. ZINOBER: We have now had opening

17 statements. Ms. Green, are you ready to

18 present your case?

19 MS. GREEN: As soon as I get this out of

20 the way.

21 MR. ZINOBER: Good.

22 MR. CARBAUGH: Excuse me for one second.

23 Before you back that up. Are we going to end

24 up coming back to this video at any point?

25 Because there are a couple of other things I

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1 would like to point out.

2 MR. ZINOBER: As I understand, the answer

3 is yes. Isn't it?

4 MS. GREEN: I plan to use it in closing

5 argument.

6 MR. CARBAUGH: I'll wait.

7 MS. GREEN: The county calls Ginger

8 Rockey Johnson. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

9 Pete, was his opening under oath?

10 MR. ZINOBER: No.

11 MS. BELL: Thank you.

12 MR. ZINOBER: It wouldn't have been as an

13 opening statement. It would have been if it

14 had been in his case.

15 MS. GREEN: I just remember in the

16 Cheney case, that's how you approached it. You

17 put her under oath right after my opening.

18 * * * * * * * * *

19 GINGER ROCKEY-JOHNSON,

20 having been duly sworn to tell the truth, the whole

21 truth, and nothing but the truth, was examined and

22 testified as follows:

23 DIRECT EXAMINATION

24 BY MS. GREEN:

25 Q Please state your name and title for the

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1 record.

2 A Ginger Rockey-Johnson, Child Advocate

3 Manager with the guardian ad litem program.

4 Q You said you worked for the guardian ad

5 litem program. Who is your employer?

6 A Department of Juvenile Justice.

7 Q So it's not the county?

8 A No, state.

9 Q How long have you been employed there?

10 A Full time since March. I have been a

11 guardian ad litem since 2016.

12 Q Can you please briefly describe for the

13 board members your work history?

14 A My work history. Prior to being guardian

15 ad litem?

16 Q Yes.

17 A I was a career professional. I have nine

18 degrees. I traveled the country helping businesses

19 with business development and finding their bottom

20 line, finding what's wrong with their businesses and

21 helping them become more productive.

22 Q What drew you to guardian ad litem

23 volunteering in -- did you say 2016?

24 A In 2016, yes. When my husband and I

25 retired in 2006, I was running my own agency for a

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1 long time and met somebody that talked about the

2 guardian ad litem program and kind of fell in love

3 with my first kid, and here I am.

4 Q So how did that turn into full-time

5 employment? You said you were already retired.

6 A Yes, I was. I'm very good with teenagers

7 and I work now on the teen unit. So, as a

8 volunteer, I had 24 kids. In the guardian ad litem

9 program, we would take a lot of high-risk kids and

10 get them calmed down and settled in. And so the

11 state decided that they needed to have a teen unit,

12 so I was brought in as a full-time person to take

13 care of teens in the foster care system.

14 Q Can you please describe for the board

15 members, what is your role as a guardian ad litem

16 supervisor?

17 A I worked primarily with the teenagers.

18 I advocate for their best interest in the court

19 systems, whether it's dependency, their juvenile

20 justice, GJJ records, mental health, so we advocate

21 for what's in their best interest. We're typically

22 the only constant they have with the court systems,

23 as case managers come in and out, other people come

24 in and out, and we stay.

25 Q Do you have a role outside of the court

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1 system for the children that you represent?

2 A I'm with them all the time. I'm the mama

3 they don't live with. I take care of them, whether

4 they need their hair done or they need to get to

5 their doctor's appointments. I pick them up and

6 take them everywhere.

7 Q For how many children do you serve as

8 guardian ad litem now?

9 A 45.

10 Q In March of this year, how many?

11 A 64.

12 Q Are you the guardian ad litem for the

13 minor child with the initials LG who resided at Lake

14 Magdalene on March 3rd of this year?

15 A Yes.

16 Q Can you please describe for -- sorry.

17 How did you become aware of the reported incident of

18 child abuse against that child that occurred on

19 March 3rd?

20 A She called me the next day. She said

21 that a black staff member, black male staff member,

22 had slugged her. I said, "Okay. I will come in and

23 see you and we'll sit down and talk." I waited for

24 the incident report to come to me the next morning,

25 which was two days later, and then I saw the LG on

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1 the 8th.

2 Q When you saw her on the 8th, did you

3 discuss the incident in more detail?

4 A Yes.

5 Q What were you looking for when you

6 discussed it with her?

7 A When kids call me and say something

8 happened like that, they're usually -- the verbiage

9 they're using isn't always accurate. They're like

10 talking for people behind them trying to protect

11 themselves because -- they're in foster care.

12 They're used to being treated poorly, so that is

13 usually like a knee-jerk response. So to get the

14 real what's going on, I need to sit with them

15 outside of the environment that they're in, sit with

16 them with a closed door and say, "Tell me what

17 really happened. What's going on?"

18 And so when the incident report came, I

19 asked her about what happened, if she was okay and

20 did she want to talk about it. And she did. She

21 talked about how she was dancing at a party, that

22 she started messing around with one member, and then

23 she walked up to the staff member and was messing

24 with him, and she smacked him and he slapped her.

25 She said it really surprised her and it shocked her.

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1 Q Did she tell you the name of the staff

2 member?

3 A Yes. She said it was Mr. Lawson.

4 Q Why was this particular child in care?

5 A She -- her mother had battered her.

6 She's had frying pans taken to her face, several

7 physical violent issues with her mother. Her father

8 had no time for her. And to get away from the stuff

9 that was going on in her home at the time, she would

10 run. So she ran, she became a human trafficking

11 victim, having survival sex to stay alive pretty

12 much, to get food, shelter, whatever she could do.

13 When the report was finally called in

14 from somebody that noticed she wasn't in school as

15 often as she used to be, then they picked her up and

16 brought her into care.

17 Q Did the child seem upset when she

18 reported the incident to you?

19 A Kids that have been battered like that

20 are pretty much like, "Hey, I got my hair done

21 today," "No, hey, I got smacked today, I got beat

22 today." It's nothing big to them. They know how to

23 deal with being assaulted. They just don't know how

24 to deal with kindness. That's when they start

25 retaliating or pushing back. In LG's case, when

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1 something bad happens to her, she runs.

2 MR. ZINOBER: Excuse me. Let's use the

3 initials of the child.

4 THE WITNESS: Thank you, LG, yes. She

5 runs. She runs to get away from the incident,

6 the issue, the circumstance, the people, and

7 she'll start trafficking again because that's

8 what she knows.

9 MR. CANASI: Can we make sure that the

10 court reporter does not use the child's first

11 name?

12 THE REPORTER: So every time they said

13 the name, just type LG?

14 MR. CANASI: Yes.

15 Q How old is LG now?

16 A She's fourteen.

17 Q How old was she when -- how old was she

18 on March 3rd?

19 A Thirteen.

20 Q How many placements has she had since you

21 became her guardian ad litem?

22 A 34 with 54 run incidents.

23 Q She's had 34 placements?

24 A I'm sorry. 10 placements, 54 run

25 incidences.

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1 Q When you say she's had 10 placements,

2 what do you mean?

3 A I mean she's had 10 different locations

4 that she's been at, 10 different group homes,

5 therapeutic foster homes, also group homes.

6 Q Where did Lake Magdalene fall in those 10

7 or so placements?

8 A It was her first primary after shelter.

9 So when kids are first removed, they go into a

10 shelter facility until they can locate a group home

11 for them for permanency.

12 Q Did you later learn that the child spoke

13 to law enforcement and denied being hit by Mr.

14 Lawson?

15 A I read it in a report.

16 Q Do you have any theories about why the

17 child's version of events to you would be different

18 from what she told law enforcement?

19 A Yeah. She will -- she'll always tell --

20 when she's behind closed doors, she'll tell me

21 what's going on. But after the fact or before the

22 fact or if somebody's promised her something -- like

23 usually it's to get her hair or nails done.

24 If they're going to transport her to

25 another placement, she won't get out of the car,

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1 they'll say, "Hey, I'll do your hair and nails," and

2 she'll get out and go.

3 Q Forgive me if you've answered this.

4 After the incident on March 3rd, did you notice any

5 changes in her behavior?

6 A She ran a lot, a lot. I mean, all of her

7 run incidences have happened after that.

8 Q Prior to March 3rd, did she convey to you

9 whether or not she was comfortable at Lake Mag?

10 A Yes. She was no longer comfortable. She

11 was adamant about wanting to get off campus. She

12 didn't want to be there anymore at all.

13 Q When did she say she didn't want to be

14 there?

15 A Maybe a week or two.

16 Q A week or two --

17 A After March 3rd -- well, actually March

18 8th, because that's when I sat down and talked with

19 her.

20 Q But prior to March 3rd, had she convened

21 to you how she felt, whether she liked it at Lake

22 Mag, whether she was comfortable prior to March 3rd?

23 A She was comfortable there. We had a

24 meeting, and she was pretty okay with advocating for

25 herself. There was no concerns up and to that

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1 point.

2 Q How did Mr. Lawson's behavior toward LG

3 on March 3rd impact your work as a guardian ad litem

4 for other children in care?

5 A I got called out about a month later in

6 the month of April to a totally different group home

7 because one of my kids was refusing placement. They

8 had gotten disrupted, meaning they were being moved

9 from that group home and was supposed to be going to

10 Lake Mag.

11 And this young man refused to go. And so

12 I had to go. They called me and said, "Hey, we need

13 you to go help get this kid go to where he needs to

14 go." So I went over there to talk to him. And he

15 was like, "I ain't going over there, I ain't going

16 over there. Staff is protecting themselves. You

17 know, they beat down that girl over there."

18 So it's still going on. I mean, these

19 kids have like their own little network of who's

20 gotten hit over where and who's lied on them.

21 Whether it's real or perception, these kids, they

22 talk. They talk a lot about what's going on. So

23 the incident that was at Lake Mag, this kid refused

24 to go. And the circle was that this girl got beat

25 down by a staff member and the staff members there

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1 weren't talking about it. So nobody wanted to go

2 over there. It was just the first of, I think, four

3 or five other kids that I had to work with that

4 refused to go to Lake Mag after that.

5 MS. GREEN: Nothing further.

6 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson,

7 cross-examination?

8 MR. LAWSON: Yes.

9 CROSS-EXAMINATION

10 BY MR. LAWSON:

11 Q Ms. Rockey-Johnson, you said LG contacted

12 you on Sunday, correct, and said she was slapped by

13 staff?

14 A She contacted me on the 4th.

15 Q Sunday. She contacted you and said she

16 was slapped. At that time, did you think to call

17 abuse if there was an allegation that the youth was

18 making and confided in you?

19 A She said that the staff members there

20 were already writing up an incident report, which I

21 received on Monday.

22 Q That's the one you received from Ms.

23 Michelle Veale?

24 A It comes through the guardian ad litem

25 program's primary notification system, so it comes

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1 through e-mail as an attached document. Who would

2 have sent it, I don't know.

3 Q Understand. But, A, you say when you

4 asked her who slapped her, who did she say again?

5 A Mr. Lawson. That was on the 8th when I

6 spoke with her in person.

7 Q I was just asking because she didn't know

8 my last name. So I was just wondering how she

9 referred to me as Mr. Lawson because that's not what

10 she referred to me as.

11 On the CPI report -- I'm sorry. The CPI

12 document that you advised that the incident said the

13 child and the staff member got into an argument and

14 she antagonized the staff member until he slapped

15 her and the child was shocked, is that correct?

16 A That's correct.

17 Q On the video, it shows that there was no

18 argument, the kid was coming over playing. So I'm

19 not sure where this information came about, but

20 that's totally opposite of what was going on.

21 Another thing I noticed you said was her runs began

22 to happen after March 3rd. Correct?

23 A Yes.

24 Q That was the one first one you were

25 notified of, the ones that came after March 3rd?

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1 A Yes.

2 Q Okay. LG had actually ran with four

3 other girls the week before. LG was already a

4 runner and skipping school prior to March 3rd. So

5 her run behaviors didn't start then, but I'm

6 guessing that's when you were first notified, so I

7 understand that.

8 I'm just trying to get an understanding

9 of this kid circle where kids are refusing to come

10 to Lake Mag because they heard that the staff

11 protect one another and they're beating up on this

12 little girl, correct, or something along those

13 lines?

14 A Yes.

15 MR. LAWSON: That's all my questions.

16 MR. ZINOBER: Redirect?

17 MS. GREEN: Just briefly.

18 REDIRECT EXAMINATION

19 BY MS. GREEN:

20 Q You didn't testify that LG ran for the

21 very first time after March 3rd, did you?

22 A No.

23 MS. GREEN: Nothing further.

24 MR. ZINOBER: Any board-member questions?

25 MS. BELL: Yes, I have a few questions.

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1 EXAMINATION

2 BY MS. BELL:

3 Q Reading through some of the reports, is

4 it not true that when LG was contacted originally --

5 I believe by the sheriff's office -- that she

6 thought she was being contacted about the incident

7 with Michelle, not with Mr. Lawson?

8 A I couldn't tell you what she believed.

9 Q That seems to be in the paperwork the

10 case. Did she tell you about what happened with

11 Michelle that same night?

12 A We didn't talk about Michelle. It came

13 up in a treatment team meeting about a week later,

14 and that was during a staff meeting with all of the

15 staff members who were involved in her treatment

16 team. And she asked for a different case manager at

17 that time because her and Michelle weren't getting

18 along.

19 Q You did say something about she did not

20 want to have anything to do with the female staff?

21 A Yes.

22 Q Can you elaborate on that?

23 A I can't. She wouldn't talk much about it

24 except that there was a woman at the party as well

25 as the male who slapped her.

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1 Q So I think that's interesting going back

2 to something you said earlier about these children

3 typically don't know how to deal with kindness. In

4 reading through some of this, you know, referring to

5 Mr. Lawson as Daddy, referring to some of these

6 ladies as Mommy, clearly something did happen with

7 Michelle that night.

8 That's what it appears she thought she

9 was being contacted to address, not the slapping

10 incident at all; and yet with Mr. Lawson, I think

11 it's clear, at least from the video, that it seems

12 to be playful on her side, that when put in a

13 difficult situation, that maybe that kindness was an

14 issue. And then finally, can you tell us how LG is

15 doing today?

16 A She is doing very well. She is

17 exceptionally well right now.

18 MS. BELL: That's all I have.

19 MR. CANASI: I have one question. I

20 guess it's really to Mr. Lawson because of a

21 comment that he made, where you stated that she

22 did not know your last name.

23 MR. LAWSON: Correct.

24 MR. CANASI: Do you all wear name tags

25 over there?

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1 MR. LAWSON: We have name tags, yes.

2 MR. CANASI: What does the name tag say?

3 MR. LAWSON: It says "Travenski Lawson."

4 My name tag is always turned backwards because

5 the kids like to go and look you up on the

6 internet and find out information, so mine was

7 turned backwards.

8 MR. CANASI: There's not one child in

9 that entire facility that knew you as Mr.

10 Lawson?

11 MR. LAWSON: No.

12 MR. CANASI: What did they call you?

13 MR. LAWSON: Mr. Tre or RSC Tre.

14 EXAMINATION

15 BY MR. CARBAUGH:

16 Q Ms. Johnson, did you have a chance to

17 look at the video?

18 A Yes.

19 Q How many times have you reviewed it?

20 A Once.

21 Q Just the one time?

22 A Yes.

23 Q Did it look like abuse to you?

24 A It shocked me that he slapped her, yes.

25 I'm sorry.

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1 Q Go ahead.

2 A The kids don't expect to come in, getting

3 away from abusive situations to go into caretaker

4 roles, to have someone else hit them.

5 Q There was another minor child in a red

6 shirt apparently with the initials of KH standing

7 next to Mr. Lawson and LG when this happened. Do

8 you know her? Are you her case manager?

9 A No.

10 Q No. You haven't spoken with her?

11 A No.

12 MR. CARBAUGH: That's all I have. Thank

13 you.

14 MS. CICHON: Just one more question.

15 EXAMINATION

16 BY MS. CICHON:

17 Q What are you all taught when you're

18 dealing with children that might have disruptive

19 behaviors? So if a child does put their hands on a

20 case manager or a teacher, et cetera, what are you

21 all taught as the proper techniques to de-escalate

22 and not have that physical contact with the child?

23 A I mean, everybody goes through trauma

24 training that deals with children in foster care.

25 But there's a no-touch policy for every agency

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1 unless they're a facility that is allowed to have

2 that. They're usually STGH placements or a higher

3 level of care where they're allowed to do

4 restraints, otherwise there's no contact.

5 That's why a lot of times when kids are

6 running, all you can do is watch them run and report

7 because you can't stop them, you can't lay hands on

8 a child for any reason.

9 MS. CICHON: Thank you.

10 MS. GREEN: Can I ask a clarification

11 question?

12 MR. ZINOBER: Well, let's wait for the

13 board members to exhaust questions and then

14 I'll let you follow up.

15 MS. GREEN: Of course.

16 EXAMINATION

17 BY MS. BELL:

18 Q So Mr. Lawson has not been charged or

19 cited with other physical contact, just the slap.

20 Correct?

21 A I don't know.

22 Q Because we see one child lean like

23 hugging him and stuff. And so that's interesting

24 that it's no touch because I don't think that was

25 documented anywhere.

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1 MS. BELL: That's all I have.

2 MR. ZINOBER: Go ahead and follow up.

3 FURTHER REDIRECT EXAMINATION

4 BY MS. GREEN:

5 Q So you're employed by the guardian ad

6 litem. You're not employed by the county and you're

7 not employed by Lake Mag. Correct?

8 A Correct.

9 Q So you're really not schooled on their

10 policies on what they can and can't do and when they

11 can and cannot touch?

12 A No.

13 MS. GREEN: Okay.

14 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, do you have

15 anything to follow up on?

16 MR. LAWSON: Yes.

17 RECROSS EXAMINATION

18 BY MR. LAWSON:

19 Q You said that within those agencies, the

20 only agencies that are allowed to be hands on for

21 any means are like STGH placements. What are the

22 placements you named?

23 A The strategic -- they're STGH, they're a

24 higher level of group-home care, therapeutic care.

25 MR. LAWSON: All right. That's it.

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1 MS. GREEN: I'm sorry. Maybe one more.

2 FURTHER REDIRECT EXAMINATION

3 BY MS. GREEN:

4 Q Were you present when law enforcement

5 interviewed LG?

6 A No.

7 MS. GREEN: Nothing further.

8 MR. ZINOBER: Is this witness excused?

9 MS. GREEN: No.

10 MR. ZINOBER: You may resume your seat in

11 the witness room unless and until you're

12 dismissed as a witness.

13 THE WITNESS: Okay.

14 MR. ZINOBER: Call your next witness,

15 please.

16 MS. GREEN: With the caution not to

17 discuss testimony, of course.

18 THE WITNESS: Understood.

19 MS. GREEN: Rhonda Rhodes.

20 MR. ZINOBER: Ms. Rhodes, would you state

21 your full name and spell it for the record,

22 please?

23 THE WITNESS: Yes. My name is Rhonda

24 Rhodes, R-h-o-n-d-a R-h-o-d-e-s.

25 MR. ZINOBER: Thank you. Your witness.

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1 DIRECT EXAMINATION

2 BY MS. GREEN:

3 Q Could you please tell the board members

4 your title?

5 A I am the clinical director at

6 Hillsborough County Children's Services.

7 Q Please describe your educational

8 background for the board members.

9 A I have a BA in sociology and psychology,

10 an MSW, which is a master's in social worker, and

11 I'm a licensed clinical social worker.

12 Q When did you begin working for

13 Hillsborough County?

14 A In 2014, August.

15 Q Who is your direct supervisor?

16 A JoAnn Rollins.

17 Q Now, prior to coming to work for

18 Hillsborough County, please describe your work

19 experience for the board members.

20 A I have been employed as a licensed

21 clinical social worker for 40 years. I have spanned

22 the child welfare system working in community mental

23 health, substance abuse, homelessness, again, child

24 welfare and various other positions.

25 Q Did you serve as the program director at

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1 Alpha House?

2 A Yes, I was. I was there for six years.

3 Q Can you tell please tell the board

4 members about that part of your career?

5 A Alpha House is a maternity home and

6 transitional service for homeless women who are

7 pregnant or parenting. And so my job was to lead

8 the staff in providing housing and social services

9 for these women.

10 Q Could you please describe -- shifting

11 back to Children's Services, if you could please

12 describe the reasons children come to live at Lake

13 Magdalene Campus.

14 A For our foster-care children, all of the

15 children that we serve have either been abused,

16 abandoned or neglected. Most of them have -- their

17 parents have their rights terminated, and so they

18 are, in essence, wards of the state.

19 Q Was that true of LG, the child who's at

20 the center of this case?

21 A Her mother's rights have been terminated.

22 Q Why was she removed from the home?

23 A She was removed from the home due to

24 running away, ungovernability, and other

25 mental-health issues.

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1 Q Was there also abuse by the mother prior

2 to removal?

3 A Yes, there was.

4 Q What is Lake Magdalene staff's most

5 important responsibility to the children who live

6 with you?

7 A The most important responsibility of

8 Hillsborough County Children's Services is to

9 provide a safe haven so that the children feel cared

10 for and we are able to work through the ravages of

11 the trauma that each of them feels and has

12 experienced.

13 Q How do your RSCs, your Residential

14 Service Coordinators, ensure that staff carry out

15 their responsibility for the welfare and the safety

16 of the children living there?

17 A Well, we have various policies on youth

18 supervision and care for the children. So it is

19 Residential Service Coordinator's responsibility to

20 make sure that staff are trained and carry out those

21 policies and procedures.

22 Q What training does staff members receive

23 to help them ensure the safety and well-being of the

24 children in their care?

25 A Well, they have policies on youth

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1 supervision, making sure that we are -- making sure

2 that they're safe. There are certain approved

3 techniques for handling their behaviors and just in

4 general how you care for an adolescent.

5 Q And some of the techniques that they are

6 trained on, does that include NAPPI?

7 A Yes. It's called non-psychological --

8 Non-Abusive Psychological and Physical Intervention

9 techniques.

10 Q What does NAPPI teach staff members to

11 prevent them from having to lay hands on the

12 children in their care?

13 A Well, the essence of NAPPI is two-fold;

14 one, that you develop a relationship with the kids

15 so that there's a trust there and you can help them

16 with mal-adapted behaviors or behaviors that are not

17 conforming to society. So that's the first thing.

18 And then the second thing is the NAPPI verbals and

19 using your verbal skills to de-escalate situations.

20 Q Is it okay for staff to horseplay with

21 children in care?

22 A No, it is not.

23 Q Why not?

24 A Given the histories of most of our

25 children, there's a lot of physicality that they've

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1 experienced, and so they don't have --

2 Q When you say "physicality," what are you

3 talking about?

4 A That means physical abuse that they've

5 endured. And so we don't allow horseplaying

6 because, again, you're supposed to be the trusted

7 adult. You're supposed to be the people who are

8 different from their parents. And so helping them

9 to understand that horseplaying is -- they don't

10 know the difference between horseplaying and any

11 other type of physical -- physicality. And so we

12 say basically no, no horseplaying.

13 Q When you say they don't understand the

14 difference between horseplay and the other

15 physicality, do you mean abuse?

16 A Yes.

17 Q And what could happen if a staff member

18 would engage in horseplay? What are the possible

19 scenarios?

20 A Well, it can escalate because, again, you

21 don't know what the triggers are for the children,

22 okay, and how they're going to act or react. And

23 also too, it's a recreation possibly of where they

24 come from, their background. And so, again, in

25 their mind -- remember that they're young. And even

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1 though their chronological age may be sixteen, their

2 emotional age may be three.

3 And so it's hard. Their judgment is not

4 good, and their intellectual capacity and cognitive

5 functions sometimes can't -- does not allow them to

6 make those distinctions.

7 Q That was a pretty big gap. You said that

8 somebody who is chronologically sixteen could

9 emotionally be three. That sounds -- it sounded

10 like an exaggeration. Can you get a little more in

11 depth with the board members on what you mean?

12 A Yes.

13 Q And was that an exaggeration?

14 A No. Erik Erikson is a psychologist, a

15 renowned psychologist, and he described the

16 emotional developmental stages that a person needs

17 to go through to be a fulfilled adult or human

18 being. There are certain tasks that people have to

19 go through.

20 When there is trauma, the child -- or the

21 person gets stuck. So if the trauma happens at

22 three years old, they get stuck emotionally. Now,

23 their bodies will go on, you know, and their ability

24 to adapt will go on. But when their coping

25 mechanisms and their judgment is a three-year-old,

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1 they'll be at that three-year-old level.

2 Q Thank you. If a physical altercation is

3 initiated by a child in care, what are staff members

4 prohibited from doing when trying to stop the

5 altercation?

6 A Well, basically they're not -- they can't

7 lay hands on them unless they are -- there are

8 certain conditions. But they need to try to

9 separate them, again by de-escalating them with

10 their verbals using -- and then if they must

11 restrain, we have the X shield, which is a NAPPI

12 technique.

13 There is one-arm escorts to get them away

14 or other non-threatening types of techniques. But

15 you also should call for assistance, you know, call

16 for assistance so that you can de-escalate the

17 situation and move the kids away.

18 Q If a staff member on campus is slapped by

19 a child, is it okay to slap them back?

20 A No.

21 Q And if the X shield is not an option

22 because things are happening too fast, what do you

23 do?

24 A Well, again, you're going to call for

25 assistance. And if the staff member cannot, then

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1 they need to what we call tap out and have another

2 staff member try to intervene.

3 Q How is a child in care affected if their

4 caregiver at Lake Mag hits them?

5 A Well, again, because they're children of

6 trauma, and, again, we don't always know what those

7 triggers are, then you, in essence, can retraumatize

8 the child and take them back to where they were in

9 their background, you know, and bring up memories

10 and bring up actions.

11 Q Is the child in care affected in the same

12 way if their caregiver at Lake Mag takes a swing at

13 the child but doesn't make contact?

14 A Well, whether you make contact or not,

15 again, we're in a position of trust. And so a child

16 does not expect that that's going to happen, you

17 know, so that can be just as traumatizing as if you

18 make contact.

19 Q How are bystander children affected if

20 their caregiver at Lake Mag hits or takes a swing at

21 another child in care in their presence?

22 A Again, because we do not know what every

23 child's triggers are, again, you have the effect of

24 maybe traumatizing the other kids in the room.

25 Q Who do you supervise at Lake Mag?

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1 A At this point in time, I do the clinical

2 staff as well as the operations staff, so the direct

3 care, so there are 77.

4 Q As of March 3rd, whom did you supervise?

5 A The direct care as well as the clinical.

6 Q So the same group of people?

7 A Same group of people, yes.

8 Q Do you know the appellant in this case,

9 Tre Lawson?

10 A Yes.

11 Q What role did he play in your

12 organization?

13 A He was a residential service coordinator.

14 Q Is that a supervisory position?

15 A Yes, it is. He was responsible for the

16 day-to-day operations of his shift.

17 Q On the date of the incident that's

18 central to this case, March 3rd, did you also

19 supervise Michelle Veale?

20 A Yes, I did.

21 Q What role did she play?

22 A Well, she was a case manager. And on

23 that particular day, she was supervising a birthday

24 party for one of our youth that was aging out.

25 Q What does a case manager do generally?

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1 A Basically service advocation, making sure

2 that the children have, I guess, the ancillary,

3 those services that they need to support them in the

4 placement.

5 Q And does a case manager have a reporting

6 relationship with an RSC? Like are they boss and

7 subordinate?

8 A No.

9 Q So different chain altogether?

10 A Um-hum.

11 Q Were you present on the evening of March

12 3rd, 2018 at Lake Mag?

13 A No, I was not.

14 Q How did you learn about Mr. Lawson's

15 conduct, Mr. Lawson's March 3rd conduct?

16 A On March 5th, Ms. Veale came to me and

17 said that Mr. Lawson had struck the child, and I

18 immediately had her describe the situation to me,

19 and then I had her make a call to the abuse

20 registry.

21 Q Should she have called the abuse registry

22 on her own on Saturday?

23 A Yes.

24 Q Why didn't she, if you know?

25 A I really don't know.

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1 Q Did she explain to you why she didn't

2 call right away?

3 A She said to me she needed -- she was

4 trying to get herself together so she did not make

5 that call.

6 Q Do you know what she meant, trying to get

7 herself together?

8 A Well, she was trying -- you know, she was

9 trying to think should I call or shouldn't I call,

10 you know.

11 Q Should that have even been a debate?

12 A No.

13 Q Was she disciplined in any way for not

14 calling right away?

15 A Yes, there was a coaching, um-hum.

16 Q What was the coaching?

17 A The coaching was the review of the

18 Florida law that says we are mandated reporters.

19 Also our policies and procedures that when an

20 incident like this happens, that you must notify me

21 and call the abuse registry.

22 Q Who performed the coaching?

23 A I did.

24 Q So other than talking to Ms. Veale -- did

25 you say you told her to call the abuse hotline?

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1 A Yes, I instructed her.

2 Q Were you present when she did that?

3 A Yes.

4 Q Did you participate in the call or just

5 observe?

6 A I just observed.

7 Q What other steps did you take after you

8 found out about the incident?

9 A Then I notified my director, Ms. JoAnn

10 Rollins.

11 Q Did you take any other steps?

12 A Not at that time. We got -- the abuse

13 call was made. The incident report was written.

14 And, again, after discussing it with Ms. Rollins, we

15 decided that there needed to be further steps and so

16 we would involve HR.

17 Q Did you review video surveillance

18 regarding the incident?

19 A Yes.

20 Q When did you do that?

21 A I did it once -- once we got the video,

22 the video was taken out of the system, and then I

23 also did it with the CPI.

24 Q What did you see on the video?

25 A I saw a birthday party. I saw Ms. Veale.

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1 I saw Cynthia Simmons. I saw the children. I saw

2 Mr. Lawson come in and he had a soda in his hands.

3 I saw the child hit at him twice, and then I saw him

4 hit her.

5 Q Did you see where Mr. Lawson was

6 positioned?

7 A Yes, I did. He was leaning back on like

8 the garbage can.

9 Q Was the garbage can like a big round

10 thing?

11 A It's like square, it's a big square

12 thing. He was leaning on that.

13 Q It looks like a piece of furniture?

14 A Yes.

15 Q Now, during the birthday party in

16 question, with respect to the chain of command on

17 campus, was Cynthia Simmons subordinate to Mr.

18 Lawson?

19 A Yes.

20 Q Was Ms. Tate subordinate to Mr. Lawson?

21 A Yes.

22 Q We've already covered Ms. Veale's

23 relationship. Did anything in the video lead you to

24 believe that Mr. Lawson's behavior violated

25 Children's Services' expectations?

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1 A Yes. When I saw him hit at her, I mean

2 that is clearly a violation. Our policies say that

3 we are -- you know, were are not to hit children,

4 we're not to humiliate them. We're not to do

5 anything that's going to again cause them any injury

6 physically or psychologically.

7 Q Was there anything else you would have

8 expected Mr. Lawson to do the night of the birthday

9 party to keep that child and the other children in

10 the room safe?

11 A Well, the incident -- this child had been

12 disruptive. And I would have expected one of the

13 staff or Mr. Lawson to take her out of the room so

14 that she was not -- didn't pose no more disruption

15 and could be de-escalated and whatever issues she

16 was experiencing at that time could have been

17 resolved.

18 MS. GREEN: Nothing further.

19 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson?

20 CROSS-EXAMINATION

21 BY MR. LAWSON:

22 Q Ms. Rhodes, you said that you were

23 working in child welfare for 40 plus years, or did I

24 get that correct?

25 A Yes, post master's 40 years.

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1 Q 40 years. Okay. May you explain to me

2 the procedure for an internal investigation?

3 A An internal investigation?

4 Q Yes.

5 A The internal investigation, you mean this

6 one or just in general?

7 Q In general.

8 A Okay, just in general. An internal

9 investigation where we would take the facts, take

10 statements from the employees, the children, review

11 them and see what summary could be made.

12 Q That evening, according to Ms. Michelle

13 Veale's interview, there were approximately 18

14 children and five staff in the cafeteria?

15 A Yes.

16 Q Why didn't I get statements from all

17 children and staff that was in the cafeteria?

18 A The decision was made that HR would help

19 -- would conduct the investigation.

20 Q So that was the difference between this

21 investigation and other investigations that HR was

22 conducting, they were only to going to interview a

23 certain amount of individuals?

24 A No. We turned that investigation over to

25 HR to conduct.

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1 Q May you explain the steps after an

2 abusive investigation is completed?

3 A After the CPI makes their report, then it

4 is brought back to the agency and we determine what

5 is going to be the disposition.

6 Q Okay. Because I know before, all we did,

7 CPI returns the disposition and we go by their

8 recommendations. Why did this change?

9 A In terms of this?

10 Q The CPI's recommended disposition, which

11 we always go by with any investigations, we normally

12 wait on the CPI. They determine what happens.

13 A Um-hum.

14 Q They give us their summary, their

15 disposition, their recommendations and disposition

16 and we go forward with that. Why did it change with

17 this case?

18 A Well, in consultation with human

19 resources, it was decided that because we felt that

20 policies had been broken that we needed to take

21 another course.

22 Q Is that normal with abuse investigations,

23 that you determine after the CPI is involved --

24 because CPIs are the ones that pretty much are paid

25 to do this, and they look into it, that's what they

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1 focus on, and they determine the outcome of that.

2 So despite what CPI had, you were going to do your

3 own judgment anyways. Correct?

4 A In consultation with HR.

5 Q Okay. When you reviewed the camera, you

6 mentioned that you saw me slap LG. Correct?

7 A It appeared from what I witnessed, yes.

8 Q So it appears, so it's not definitive,

9 but it appears?

10 A Well, from what I saw.

11 Q Okay. Where did this slap appear to

12 occur?

13 A It happened -- oh. On the body?

14 Q Yes.

15 A On the face. I'm sorry.

16 Q Face. No problem. When you watched the

17 camera footage, what different speeds did you watch

18 it at?

19 A I watched it in regular speed, and then I

20 saw it in slow motion.

21 Q Slow motion that Ms. Green sent over?

22 A Yes.

23 Q So you didn't do it on your own in slow

24 motion?

25 A No.

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1 Q Are you aware that for every second on

2 the video, there's four frames?

3 A No, I did not know that.

4 Q I wish I was able to show you on there.

5 But every second per video, there is four frames.

6 Sorry. You mentioned that when you notified me of

7 the report -- this is what I got from the CPI's

8 report -- that it didn't appear as if I thought it

9 was serious. Is that correct?

10 A No. When I spoke with you, basically,

11 you know, you said -- what I remember that you were

12 saying, let it play out, you know, that it was an

13 allegation and that was -- and we would let it play

14 out.

15 Q Why do you think that I reacted that?

16 A Why do I --

17 Q -- think that I reacted in such a manner?

18 A I don't know.

19 Q With you being my supervisor, my direct

20 supervisor at that time, is there any reason that I

21 wasn't notified of the status of the case once it

22 was closed?

23 A No.

24 Q Because I didn't hear anything from HR or

25 Children's Services for three months after the case

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1 was closed. Is that common?

2 A Not to my knowledge.

3 Q I know Ms. Green asked a question. She

4 said when kids are fighting, how do you break them

5 up.

6 MS. GREEN: Objection. That question was

7 not asked.

8 MR. ZINOBER: Why don't you phrase it

9 differently?

10 Q Somewhere along the lines there was a

11 question, if kids got into a physical altercation,

12 how would we intervene.

13 A Um-hum.

14 Q What was your response to that again?

15 A You would use NAPPI de-escalation to try

16 to break it up. And if you needed assistance, you

17 would call for assistance and, if necessary, you

18 could use the physical interventions of a one-arm

19 escort or one, you know, of the approved NAPPI

20 physical interventions.

21 Q As far as Ms. Veale and reporting abuse

22 the evening that it happened, you said that she

23 mentioned she was trying to get herself together?

24 A Um-hum.

25 Q For over 30 hours?

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1 A That's what she told me.

2 Q Okay. And she received a coaching card

3 for this. In my experience working with kids in

4 situations where abuse has taken place or

5 allegations of abuse where it is not reported is

6 considered vicarious liability because you're pretty

7 much giving permission for a kid to be abused, and

8 that's neither here nor there.

9 You mentioned my position was I was

10 leaning back on the garbage can. Correct?

11 A Yes.

12 Q When you reviewed the video, you said you

13 reviewed it twice, once when Michelle initially

14 reported it to you and then again with the CPI?

15 A Yes.

16 Q At that time, did you allow the CPI to

17 look at it from its view, or did you pretty much

18 point out what he should be imaging?

19 A All the CPI asked me was to identify the

20 persons in the room.

21 Q Okay. Can you tell me what time Ms.

22 Veale notified you of this alleged incident?

23 A I believe that it was like 2, 2:30 in the

24 afternoon.

25 Q And once she finished, that's when she

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1 wrote the incident report for it?

2 A After she made the --

3 Q -- the call?

4 A Um-hum.

5 Q Right here it has the notification at 11

6 a.m. on March 5th.

7 MS. GREEN: Can you please let us know

8 what you're referring to?

9 MR. LAWSON: Yes, I'm sorry. I'm

10 referencing the incident report that Ms.

11 Michelle Veale wrote.

12 MS. GREEN: So that's Exhibit No. 1? And

13 what page?

14 MR. LAWSON: The cover page.

15 MS. GREEN: Thank you.

16 BY MR. LAWSON:

17 Q It shows the date and time of

18 notification, March 5th at 11:00 a.m. And on the

19 second-to-the-last page where it says what measures

20 was taken, abuse wasn't called until 2:00. So it

21 was three hours to determine that this incident or

22 accusation was considered or looked at as abuse? Or

23 what reason did it take so long after the report to

24 call it in?

25 A I think that there is an error. I think

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1 there is an error in the narrative. I would have to

2 have the abuse report taken from Tallahassee to

3 ascertain the actual time.

4 MR. LAWSON: Okay. No problem. No

5 further questions.

6 MR. ZINOBER: Any redirect?

7 MS. GREEN: One moment, please. No

8 redirect.

9 MR. ZINOBER: Board-member questions?

10 MS. HOSLER: I have a few questions

11 actually.

12 EXAMINATION

13 BY MS. HOSLER:

14 Q You testified that there are protocols in

15 regards to children disruptions, children fighting.

16 Is there any specific protocol as to handling

17 aggression by a child against a staff member?

18 A Yes. I mean, because if a child is

19 aggressing toward a staff member, again, we're going

20 to de-escalate that child, separate them, try to

21 find out what the issues are. Usually that staff

22 member doesn't go back into the cottage with that

23 child until we are able to either have a mediation

24 or some type of intervention.

25 Q That was some testimony on the night of

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1 March 3rd there was an incident between Michelle and

2 the child. Do you know anything about that? Are

3 you able to describe?

4 A Only what I have read.

5 Q Okay.

6 A That there were -- the child and Ms.

7 Veale -- she had been disruptive with Ms. Veale and

8 Ms. Veale had tried to redirect her, and then Ms.

9 Veale reported that she had asked that that child be

10 taken out of the party.

11 Q Okay. The children, how do they identify

12 the employees?

13 A Well, the employees wear uniforms.

14 Q Okay. What about names?

15 A Well, either by their first name, their

16 last name, or they may say Ms. Rhonda, so in various

17 ways.

18 Q Was Mr. Lawson's name obvious on the tag?

19 A On his --

20 Q His name tag?

21 A Yes. You mean on his badge?

22 Q Yes.

23 A Yes.

24 Q His full name?

25 A Yes.

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1 Q Was that required?

2 A Yes. All of our name badges have their

3 first and last names on them.

4 Q And all employees are required to wear

5 that name badge at all times?

6 A They should, yes.

7 Q The child's run-away history, while she

8 was at Lake Magdalene, do you know roughly about

9 when her first run was?

10 A No. I'm not absolutely sure, huh-uh.

11 Q Was it prior to the incident with Mr.

12 Lawson?

13 A Oh, yes.

14 Q How about afterwards?

15 A Yes, she had running behaviors after

16 that.

17 Q Do you know roughly about how many run

18 incidents she had?

19 A I think, about three or four.

20 Q While at Lake Magdalene?

21 A Um-hum.

22 Q How long was she at Lake Magdalene?

23 A She was there about a month and a half.

24 MS. HOSLER: Thank you.

25 EXAMINATION

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1 BY MR. TRICHLER:

2 Q Can you help me clarify your protocol?

3 You mentioned if you have a staff member and a child

4 get into an altercation, I think you said that

5 someone should separate the child and employee. Is

6 that correct?

7 A Yes.

8 Q What employee should do that?

9 A Well, again, because we have a number of

10 employees, so if we have a child that's charging at

11 a staff member, then another staff member should --

12 they should call for assistance, and another staff

13 member should help escort the child out.

14 Q How about if other staff members are

15 present and they observe it, should those staff

16 members who observed it interact and try to separate

17 that child and staff member?

18 A Yes, yes.

19 Q In the video, did you see Ms. Michelle

20 Veale try to follow that protocol at all?

21 A No, I didn't.

22 Q Was that something you would have

23 expected your employees to do?

24 A We have case managers, we have clinical,

25 et cetera. Usually when it's for direct

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1 intervention with the kids, it would probably be

2 another childcare staff.

3 Q You talked about mandatory reporters?

4 A Yes.

5 Q Michelle Veale, she's a mandatory

6 reporter?

7 A Yes, she is.

8 Q It's mandatory reporting, that's by state

9 law. Correct?

10 A Yes.

11 Q That means it's mandatory, it's the law?

12 If she witnesses suspected abuse or neglect, she

13 needs to call the hotline. Correct?

14 A Yes.

15 Q I just wanted to follow up on something

16 Mr. Lawson said. Is it your practice to follow the

17 CPI's recommendations at the conclusion of their

18 investigation?

19 A Most instances.

20 Q In this particular case, did you have any

21 conversations with the child about the incident?

22 A No, I did not.

23 MR. TRICHLER: Thank you.

24 EXAMINATION

25 BY MS. BELL:

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1 Q Going back to what he was just asking

2 about, Ms. Veale being a mandated reporter. Is the

3 same true for Ms. Simmons?

4 A Yes.

5 Q Did Ms. Simmons in any way follow Exhibit

6 17, which is the policy on reporting abuse, or

7 Exhibit 16, the intervention techniques policy or

8 Exhibit 18, the abuse reporting policy?

9 A No, she did not.

10 Q What is specifically Ms. Veale's role

11 with the child?

12 A She was her case manager.

13 Q What does that mean?

14 A So when a case gets assigned, they have a

15 therapist and a case manager. The case manager is

16 the person who goes to court with the child, makes

17 sure that they have clothing, makes sure that they

18 have schooling, makes sure they have enrichment

19 activities. That's the role of the case manager at

20 our agency.

21 Q So she's very much an advocate for that

22 child?

23 A Very much so, yes.

24 Q So based on the video and based on your

25 policies, you thought an appropriate punishment for

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1 not protecting this child, for separating the child

2 from Mr. Lawson, for reporting this alleged abuse

3 was to essentially -- I think you all were,

4 essentially, "Hey, watch this training video."

5 Is there anything in Ms. Veale or Ms.

6 Simmons' permanent record about not following these

7 policies and placing a minor child in harm's way?

8 Is there anything in their record, or did they just

9 get that coaching?

10 A They just got the coaching card.

11 Q Did Ms. Cynthia get the coaching as well?

12 A Yes, she did.

13 Q Was KH interviewed?

14 A KH?

15 Q The girl with the ponytail.

16 A I'm not sure. Again, HR handled the

17 investigation.

18 Q There are several places in here -- and I

19 believe it's reported from you -- whether it's the

20 CPI or the sheriff's office. It says that no

21 termination is recommended, there's no termination,

22 there's no termination. How did we get from no

23 termination to termination?

24 A Because the thing -- what was said to the

25 CPI when he came out was, we would wait until we got

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1 his report to determine what the disposition was.

2 That's what I remember from the conversation with

3 the CPI.

4 Q I can't really search on here because

5 it's a PDF. But that's not what this paperwork

6 says. It says on more that one occasion, no

7 termination.

8 A Yes.

9 Q At what point was Mr. Lawson removed from

10 Lake Mag?

11 A I believe he was removed almost

12 immediately.

13 Q So Monday, you think?

14 A I'm trying to think. I can't remember,

15 but it was probably within a week.

16 Q So then he went to pet resources?

17 A He went to pet resources.

18 Q He was there for three months while the

19 investigation was going on?

20 A Um-hum.

21 Q But the investigation wrapped up after a

22 couple of weeks. Is that correct?

23 A No, because I think we got the report

24 probably about three months.

25 MS. BELL: I'm referring, actually, to

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1 what, Mr. Lawson, you brought up. So you had

2 this three-month gap, and you seemed to think

3 the investigation was wrapped up very soon

4 after the incident, yet you were kind of in

5 this purgatory for three months?

6 MR. LAWSON: Well, I was actually in pet

7 resources for five months, from March 7 until

8 August 6. The investigation had been closed on

9 April 26.

10 EXAMINATION

11 BY MS. HOSLER:

12 Q Can you clarify for us why the gap in

13 time?

14 A We were waiting after it was -- when they

15 were doing the investigation, again, because of

16 circumstances, we had turned the investigation over

17 to human resources, our human resources department.

18 Q May I ask why you chose to turn the

19 investigation over to HR after CPI concluded their

20 investigation?

21 A Yes. Ms. Rollins and I decided because

22 there had been a history with Mr. Lawson, we wanted

23 to make sure that the investigation was handled in a

24 non-biased way and by, again, our human resources

25 department so that there would be no, again, sense

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1 of bias on our part.

2 Q So your decision to refer this to HR was

3 the culmination of prior events involving Mr.

4 Lawson? Is that what you're saying?

5 A Yes.

6 Q Can you describe those incidents for us,

7 please?

8 A Well, I wasn't his direct supervisor.

9 But I think a year before, that he had gone to PDH,

10 predisciplinary hearing, and from what I was told,

11 he had prevailed. So when this situation came up,

12 again, Ms. Rollins and I talked about, again,

13 turning it over to our human resources department so

14 it could be investigated in a non-biased way.

15 Q PDH, can you explain to us what that is?

16 A A predisciplinary hearing.

17 Q He prevailed?

18 A Right.

19 Q But, yet, you chose that was probative

20 for some reason?

21 A Excuse me?

22 Q The fact that he prevailed at PDH

23 hearing, you thought that was probative for some

24 reason and necessitated a referral to HR?

25 A Well, yeah, to make sure, again, the

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1 investigation was done in a non-biased way.

2 MS. BELL: If I may tag on to that.

3 EXAMINATION

4 BY MS. BELL:

5 Q So HR is the one who sent him to PDH for

6 the first incident. CPI cleared him, yet in this

7 case, CPI has cleared him, and again you're kicking

8 it over to HR, who is the one who basically had

9 the issue -- with the first issue had the problem.

10 So how is turning it over to HR when CPI has already

11 cleared him --

12 A No, no, no. The sequence of events, no,

13 no, no. When CPI started to investigate, we sent it

14 to our HR at the start, at the beginning.

15 Q Okay.

16 A No, it was not after. It was at the

17 beginning of the process.

18 Q But going back to the first incident --

19 A Um-hum.

20 Q -- HR is the one who referred him to PDH.

21 Correct?

22 A That, I'm not familiar.

23 Q Well, somebody --

24 A Yes, somebody.

25 Q Somebody other than CPI did, and CPI

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1 cleared him. Correct? Is that correct, you think?

2 A I'm not --

3 MR. CANASI: I don't think CPI had

4 anything to do with the first incident.

5 MS. GREEN: There was nothing about

6 CPI --

7 THE WITNESS: CPI wasn't involved in the

8 first case.

9 MR. ZINOBER: Danielle?

10 THE WITNESS: Yes.

11 EXAMINATION

12 BY MS. HOSLER:

13 Q But he prevailed. Right?

14 A Yes.

15 Q Were there other incidents besides those

16 two?

17 A Not to my knowledge.

18 Q Okay.

19 A Again, I started to supervise him in

20 December of 2017.

21 Q So what was the amount of time that

22 lapsed between the time period in which CPI cleared

23 him and HR made the decision to terminate him?

24 MR. CANASI: That would have been April

25 26, right, until August?

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1 A No, no, no, no because --

2 MS. HOSLER: It was his testimony it was

3 hers.

4 THE WITNESS: HR, they investigated. I

5 don't think they came to -- it was July of

6 2018.

7 MR. CANASI: The case was closed in late

8 April, so that would have been the time that

9 case would have been done.

10 MS. HOSLER: So it was April, not July.

11 MS. BELL: That's is a big gap. April?

12 We think April?

13 THE WITNESS: Um-hum.

14 EXAMINATION

15 BY MR. CANASI:

16 Q Okay. So there are three outcomes from

17 the CPI investigation?

18 A Um-hum.

19 Q Abuse?

20 A Um-hum.

21 Q No abuse?

22 A Um-hum.

23 Q Not substantiated?

24 A Right.

25 Q In his case, the findings were not

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1 substantiated?

2 A Right.

3 Q Have there been any other employees that

4 you know of or that Ms. Green knows of or that you

5 know of that ever had a not substantiated finding by

6 CPI that was terminated?

7 A Not to my knowledge.

8 Q So the only time that we've had a CPI

9 investigation where the employee was terminated

10 before this one was because abuse was proven. Is

11 that what you're telling me?

12 A I'm saying that, to my knowledge, I don't

13 know the circumstances that you described.

14 Q Well, there's no circumstances. A county

15 attorney has stated that a CPI investigation can

16 result in three outcomes?

17 A Right.

18 Q Abuse, no abuse, not substantiated?

19 A Um-hum.

20 Q HR, from the testimony I've heard so

21 far -- and please correct me, someone, if I heard

22 wrong -- is that guidelines, the findings of CPI are

23 used to determine the outcome of that employee's

24 employment with the county and that the only time

25 that an employee has been terminated is because CPI

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1 determined that something wrong happened, that there

2 was abuse, not "no abuse," not "not substantiated,"

3 abuse.

4 A Um-hum.

5 Q So in this case, CPI found --

6 MR. ZINOBER: You have to answer

7 verbally.

8 THE WITNESS: Yes.

9 Q In this case, CPI determined not

10 substantiated?

11 A Um-hum.

12 Q Yet HR decided that in spite of what CPI

13 said, "We're still going to terminate the employee"?

14 And that was based on the fact that you all went

15 back on another abuse allegation that at no time was

16 he found at fault for that. See what I'm trying to

17 get at?

18 A Yeah. But I --

19 Q What I'm trying to get at is this: If

20 I'm on trial for murder and I was on trial for

21 murder once before in another case but was found not

22 guilty, I believe -- and you can correct me if I'm

23 wrong, Mr. Zinober -- that the fact that I was found

24 innocent of murder before cannot even be brought up

25 in my new trial. Correct?

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1 A Um-hum, right.

2 MR. ZINOBER: That's correct.

3 Q So I'm having a very difficult time

4 accepting the fact that the reason this was kicked

5 back to HR after CPI made their findings is the fact

6 that you all went back to another incident with Mr.

7 Lawson that was reported that became unsubstantiated

8 and he was not found -- he prevailed?

9 A Um-hum.

10 Q I've got a real problem with that. And

11 my problem with that is so big that, quite frankly,

12 I'm ready to ask Mr. Zinober if we can stop this

13 hearing.

14 MS. BELL: If I may quickly tag on to

15 that.

16 EXAMINATION

17 BY MS. BELL:

18 Q The fact that you have two other

19 employees, Ms. Veale and Ms. Simmons, who clearly

20 violated policies -- and you said earlier during

21 your testimony on direct --

22 MR. TRICHLER: Violated the law.

23 Q -- you said that you decided to terminate

24 -- or it was decided by HR to terminate Mr. Lawson

25 because policies were broken. Yes, ma'am, policies

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1 were broken by Ms. Simmons and Ms. Veale. This man

2 has been terminated, and they got a, "Ah, we're

3 going to make you watch a video."

4 Particularly, Ms. Michelle -- and I

5 haven't even gotten into what Ms. Simmons' role is.

6 But if Ms. Michelle's role is to be the advocate and

7 the protector of this child, she did not walk across

8 the room. Ms. Simmons did not get up off her stool.

9 At no time did anybody say, "Mr. Lawson,

10 are you okay? Child, are you okay?" They did not

11 separate them. The party went on for hours, even

12 though, I think, Ms. Simmons says, "Oh, well, you

13 know, we told him to break it up," no, no, that's

14 not what happened. That's not what happened

15 according to any other testimony. So I concur with

16 you. This is very upsetting, very upsetting.

17 MS. HOSLER: I have one final question.

18 EXAMINATION

19 BY MS. HOSLER:

20 Q Michelle Veale, was she previously -- did

21 she have any brush-ins with HR or anything like

22 that?

23 A No.

24 Q So she has a clean record as far as you

25 know?

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1 A Yes, um-hum.

2 Q How about Ms. Simmons?

3 A Yes, yes.

4 Ms. HOSLER: Thank you.

5 MR. CANASI: Mr. Carbaugh, do you have

6 any questions?

7 MR. CARBAUGH: No.

8 MR. CANASI: Ms. Cichon?

9 MS. CICHON: Just one point of

10 clarification.

11 EXAMINATION

12 BY MS. CICHON:

13 Q You've been in your leadership role since

14 2014. Correct?

15 A Yes.

16 Q Is this the first incident you've had

17 where a member of leadership or of staff have put

18 their hands -- or perceived to put their hands on a

19 child?

20 A No.

21 Q How many other times has it happened

22 under your leadership?

23 A That I know of, two other times.

24 Q Were those two other individuals

25 terminated? Still working?

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1 A No, they're terminated.

2 MS. CICHON: That's all of my questions.

3 EXAMINATION

4 BY MS. HOSLER:

5 Q Can you describe the circumstances?

6 A One of them tripped a child who was on

7 crutches.

8 Q So the staff was the aggressor, or was it

9 an accidental tripping?

10 A No. The child was the aggressor. The

11 staff member tripped him.

12 Q The child on crutches was the aggressor?

13 A Yeah, and so -- but the employee then

14 knocked him down.

15 Q Was there a CPI investigation?

16 A Yes.

17 Q What was outcome of that investigation?

18 A It was founded, and he was terminated.

19 Q So CPI --

20 A Yes.

21 Q Okay. What about the second incident?

22 A The second incident was, we had a -- the

23 child was the aggressor and the employee basically

24 took him to the ground, he slammed him to the

25 ground, and so the employee was terminated.

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1 Q Was there a CPI investigation?

2 A Yes.

3 Q What was the finding?

4 A It was substantiated.

5 Q So this particular case is different from

6 its predecessors. Correct? Would you say so?

7 A In those two cases?

8 Q Yes.

9 A Yes.

10 Q Based on CPI's findings?

11 A Yes.

12 Q And those employees were terminated?

13 A Right.

14 MS. HOSLER: Okay.

15 MR. ZINOBER: Any follow-up? Ms. Green?

16 MS. GREEN: Redirect, if I may.

17 MR. ZINOBER: Yes.

18 REDIRECT EXAMINATION

19 BY MS. GREEN:

20 Q In the two cases you just described, were

21 the findings verified because there was injury to

22 the children?

23 A Yes.

24 MR. ZINOBER: Let's try to avoid leading

25 even though Mr. Lawson is not a lawyer.

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1 MS. GREEN: Sure.

2 MR. ZINOBER: I've been very patient, but

3 there's been an awful lot of leading.

4 MS. GREEN: Okay.

5 BY MS. GREEN:

6 Q Is it important, or how does it factor

7 in -- maybe that's a better way to ask it. How does

8 it factor in in your mind if there is an altercation

9 between a staff member and a child and the staff

10 member is an RSC?

11 A Well, again, the RSC role model, he's the

12 leader of a staff, you know, and so what he

13 sanctions or she sanctions is staff behavior, you

14 know, is usually modeled for the rest of the staff.

15 Q Of all the different staff members in

16 terms of position, who in your estimation would have

17 the best knowledge, the best training in what to do

18 when they're involved in an altercation with a

19 child?

20 A In the hierarchy, it would be the

21 Residential Service Coordinator.

22 Q What kind of standard do you hold a

23 Residential Services Coordinator to as compared to

24 other staff members on campus?

25 A Well, again, he or she is going to be the

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1 role model and the leader, and so they have to be

2 held to a higher standard because, again, they have

3 to model for the rest of the staff, the

4 expectations.

5 Q And the CPI investigations, what are they

6 investigating? Are they investigating whether your

7 employees violated your policies?

8 A They're investigating whether the child

9 was harmed physically or psychological.

10 Q If law enforcement investigates anything

11 that happens on campus, what are they investigating?

12 A Well, they're looking for criminality,

13 have laws been broken.

14 Q Were you involved in the decision of

15 whether or not to discipline Mr. Lawson and at what

16 level?

17 A I was in the discussions.

18 Q And did you attend the predisciplinary

19 hearing that led to this dismissal?

20 A Yes, I did.

21 Q During that predisciplinary hearing or

22 prior to it, did you have the opportunity to review

23 the documents, review the charges against Mr.

24 Lawson?

25 A Yes, I did.

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1 Q What was he charged with?

2 A He was charged with physical abuse of a

3 child.

4 Q Was he charged with anything else, or was

5 it just about the March 3rd incident?

6 A As far as I know, it was the March 3rd

7 incident.

8 Q So if he had engaged in misconduct in the

9 past, that wasn't a part of it?

10 A That wasn't a part of it, no.

11 Q So it was isolated to just what happened

12 on March 3rd?

13 A March 3rd, the birthday party, yes.

14 EXAMINATION

15 BY MR. CANASI:

16 Q That's not what you said before, though.

17 Right?

18 A What I --

19 Q What you said before was that the reason

20 that it was sent back to HR after the CPI

21 investigation was because there had been another

22 incident with Mr. Lawson before.

23 A There had been -- a couple of years ago,

24 there was an incident with Mr. Lawson.

25 Q So if there had not been an incident with

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1 Mr. Lawson a couple of years before, would you have

2 sent it back to HR after CPI came in and said --

3 MS. BELL: Because you said very

4 clearly --

5 A Wait a minute. But what I said was

6 that --

7 Q We can go back on the record and repeat

8 it.

9 A Okay. That it was done -- the allegation

10 was made. I reported it to Ms. Rollins. She and I

11 had a discussion, and we felt that it should go to

12 HR so that there was not a bias perception in the

13 case, so it was done at the beginning. It was not

14 done at the -- it didn't go to HR.

15 Q After CPI made their determination, you

16 kicked it back to HR?

17 A No. We were doing -- well, HR was

18 always -- already involved, they had not stepped out

19 of the process. They were still involved in the

20 process.

21 EXAMINATION

22 BY MS. BELL:

23 Q Does CPI have a history of bias?

24 A Not that I know of, no.

25 Q You just said a few times now --

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1 including earlier what you were referring to -- that

2 the reason you kicked it to HR, despite what CPI

3 found, was because of the bias issue, you didn't

4 want there to be any perceived bias.

5 A We kicked it to HR while -- before the

6 process started, and we were in --

7 Q Because you didn't want any bias?

8 A Bias, yes.

9 Q From CPI?

10 A No, no, from our staff, for anybody --

11 Q Is HR not part of your staff?

12 A Well, they are. But because of the fact

13 that our staff did not -- should not have been

14 involved because, again, there was an incident

15 prior. So HR -- we gave it to HR to investigate, to

16 make sure that there was no bias on our part.

17 EXAMINATION

18 BY MS. HOSLER:

19 Q No appearance of bias?

20 A No appearance of bias, yes.

21 Q Right.

22 A Thank you.

23 MS. HOSLER: Thank you.

24 MR. LAWSON: Can I?

25 MR. ZINOBER: Yes.

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1 RECROSS-EXAMINATION

2 BY MR. LAWSON:

3 Q I'm looking at Exhibit 3, which is the

4 CPI's chronological notes. I don't know, the pages

5 aren't numbered, but close to the end is Mr.

6 Duckworth's narrative, which states pretty much that

7 Mr. Duckworth advised the CPI he was complete in his

8 investigation, told him how he felt and allowed the

9 CPI to continue its own investigation, so HR was

10 pretty much done at that time?

11 A Mr. Duckworth had left, so it was

12 assigned to someone else.

13 Q So after Mr. Duckworth had interviewed

14 and investigated and passed on his information to

15 the CPI, someone else went behind him and did it

16 over?

17 A It was Mr. Duckworth -- this is my

18 understanding, what was reported to me. Mr.

19 Duckworth was completing his investigation, okay,

20 and then it was assigned to another HR person.

21 MR. LAWSON: That's six pages from the

22 back if you want to look at it.

23 MS. HOSLER: Why it was reassigned?

24 MS. BELL: What? Why?

25 MS. HOSLER: After what HR representative

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1 concluded --

2 THE WITNESS: Mr. Duckworth left

3 abruptly. He left abruptly.

4 MS. HOSLER: Okay. So it was never

5 re-investigated?

6 THE WITNESS: No, no, no, he continued.

7 He left abruptly from our human resources and

8 someone else then picked it up.

9 EXAMINATION

10 BY MS. HOSLER:

11 Q There's something I can't sync up. What

12 is the value of a CPI investigation to your agency?

13 It seems to me -- with all due respect, it seems to

14 me like you pick out and choose what outcomes you're

15 going to hold as probative. CPI, I mean, I give

16 them a lot of value, but your agency doesn't seem

17 to.

18 A I wouldn't say that we don't.

19 Q So tell me, what is the value of the

20 their report, the outcome of their investigations to

21 your specific agency?

22 A You know, again, they are there to

23 investigate.

24 Q You trust their investigation?

25 A Yes, and to make recommendations.

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1 Q Okay.

2 A For us then -- and then for us to make a

3 disposition.

4 Q Do you rely on their recommendations?

5 A Yes.

6 Q You describe two incidents of which you

7 did. But why didn't you in this instance?

8 A I think because of the nature of what we

9 perceive went on.

10 Q You perceived he was the aggressor?

11 A No, that -- when he hit the child, yes.

12 EXAMINATION

13 BY MS. BELL:

14 Q Yet you didn't feel that -- and I

15 shouldn't go back to it. But you didn't feel, after

16 watching this alleged abuse that's so horrific,

17 we're going to do different things this time, yet

18 your staff and their federally mandated -- or

19 legally mandated policies were not followed. That's

20 interesting.

21 MR. CANASI: So I looked at that video

22 and I got up real close and personal with it to

23 look at it real close. The resolution is

24 horrible on it, but nevertheless, I looked at

25 it close enough that it doesn't tell me or show

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1 me that Mr. Lawson struck that child in the

2 face. It doesn't tell me that he didn't, quite

3 frankly, because the resolution is not good.

4 But what I looked at afterwards was the

5 fact that the child stood there for a while and

6 talked to him and that no other adult

7 approached him while that child was standing

8 there talking to him. Okay.

9 Now, when I was in second grade, I had a

10 really mean teacher. John F. Kennedy had just

11 been assassinated and she rolled a TV in the

12 room and she was crying. I was seven years

13 old, I didn't know what was going on. I went

14 up to her and I said, "Why are you crying?"

15 She said, "What are you stupid or

16 something?" And she slapped me across the

17 face.

18 I ran home. I didn't stand there to talk

19 to her. I ran home because I didn't live that

20 far from the school. I'm sixty years old. I

21 still remember that incident vividly. My

22 mother came back with me to the school. The

23 rest is history.

24 So, as I look at this video, I'm thinking

25 if this child is standing there still talking

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1 to him, I don't think she's standing there

2 waiting for him to slap her again. And I

3 certainly didn't see her try to slap him again.

4 I think there was some horseplaying going

5 around, and I think that's unfortunate. Okay.

6 But I think that this entire process has just

7 gone completely wrong. And do either one of

8 the attorneys -- do the appellant or the county

9 attorney have any more questions for this

10 witness?

11 MS. GREEN: I do.

12 MR. CANASI: Let's get on with it.

13 EXAMINATION

14 BY MS. BELL:

15 Q Just one quick tag on to what you just

16 said, going back to that video. Not only did the

17 child stay and continue to speak with Mr. Lawson,

18 but KH who was standing right there came back after

19 LG was gone and went up to Mr. Lawson almost like a

20 hug.

21 She was there. She was this close when

22 it happened. She didn't seem -- that does not

23 strike me as what a child would do had she just

24 witnessed abuse that would warrant termination.

25 A You have to remember that all the

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1 children, foster-care children, have trauma in their

2 histories.

3 Q I understand that. And the lady previous

4 said how to deal with kindness.

5 MR. CANASI: To help, they have a hard

6 time with that, yes.

7 A And sometimes we do -- sometimes children

8 exhibit what we call, identify with the aggressor.

9 And basically that means that if you have -- again,

10 that is person of power, this is a person who is --

11 for some children, it can be the parental figure.

12 And what they'll do is to make sure that they don't

13 get hurt, they will do -- they will, they will

14 identify with the aggressor. They will, you know,

15 try to get back into the aggressor's good graces.

16 BY MS. BELL:

17 Q Prior to this incident, would you have

18 ever referred to Mr. Lawson as the aggressor, an

19 aggressor, with children prior to this incident?

20 A No. But the thing about it is, again,

21 I'm not a child of trauma.

22 Q I understand that.

23 A So but having worked with children of

24 trauma --

25 Q Do you believe Mr. Lawson is an aggressor

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1 now?

2 A At this moment, no.

3 Q Not physically right now. But is Mr.

4 Lawson an aggressor and a child abuser, yes or no,

5 in your opinion?

6 A Yes.

7 Q Based on this one incident alone?

8 A Based -- yes.

9 Q Based on everything you know about him

10 before and since, this is the only incident that

11 would lead you to that conclusion?

12 A You know, one of the things about people

13 is that you never know, again, what triggers them.

14 Okay. All of us are prone to violent behaviors, et

15 cetera, given the right circumstances. And so, you

16 know, at that moment, I felt that he abused that

17 child.

18 MS. HOSLER: One final question for you.

19 EXAMINATION

20 BY MS. HOSLER:

21 Q Is there anything, any rule in your

22 policy, which would enable a staff to defend hisself

23 or herself if struck by a child?

24 A Yes.

25 Q Can you describe that?

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1 A And with the NAPPI, that's why we use the

2 NAPPI verbals and non-verbal, and there are certain

3 techniques. If a child is coming at you, there is a

4 way to protect your space and get them out of your

5 space, and it's called a safety shield, again, while

6 you're still trying to de-escalate them. But the

7 thing is to protect the child and yourself.

8 Q Right.

9 A And we practice the smart principles,

10 safety for both the individuals involved, okay, and,

11 again, doing it again with nurturance, you know, not

12 punitive measures.

13 Q So was that why you felt the need to

14 refer this to HR, because a NAPPI rule was violated?

15 A Yes.

16 MS. HOSLER: Okay. And that's

17 independent of CPI's tip.

18 EXAMINATION

19 BY MS. BELL:

20 Q That's not even mentioned, that's not

21 been mentioned. We asked earlier, what is this

22 about? It was about the slap. This is the first

23 time now you're saying that, "Well, it was about the

24 slap and the NAPPI thing."

25 A Well, the NAPPI thing should have been

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1 utilized, should have been utilized.

2 Q Only if he felt he was being aggressed

3 against. It didn't look like he felt threatened.

4 He's standing there leaning, holding his drink. He

5 has no reason to engage in NAPPI if he's not being

6 aggressed against.

7 A But when she went to slap.

8 Q He said she did not make contact.

9 A But she swung at him, you know, so,

10 again --

11 Q He did not perceive it as being

12 aggressive, obviously, by his action, he was kind of

13 standing leaning back like this, so -- but now your

14 testimony is, not only was it the slap, but it's

15 also the NAPPI?

16 A NAPPI is what we utilize.

17 Q That's not the case in that chair. That

18 was her question.

19 A No, this is the slap.

20 EXAMINATION

21 BY MS. HOSLER:

22 Q The slap at which is a NAPPI violation?

23 A Right.

24 Q That's your testimony?

25 A Yes.

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1 Q Just to be clear.

2 A Yes.

3 Q So there are various problems to this.

4 Right? So we've got sheriff's investigation, which

5 investigates criminality. There was none of that

6 here?

7 A Um-hum.

8 Q And then below that is a CPI

9 investigation, which investigates child abuse.

10 A Um-hum.

11 Q But below that is your internal policies

12 and procedures, and NAPPI is one of those. And your

13 argument is the first time she came at him, touched

14 him or not, he should have, as a person in

15 leadership, should have defended himself?

16 A And de-escalated her if she needed that

17 de-escalation.

18 Q Right. Because he failed to do so, as

19 soon as you heard the allegations, you thought it

20 was appropriate to refer to HR?

21 A Um-hum.

22 Q And the case stayed with HR until a

23 decision was made?

24 A Yes.

25 Q And that was independent of the CPI

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1 report?

2 A Yes.

3 Q Is that your -- do I have this correct?

4 A Yes.

5 MS. HOSLER: Okay.

6 EXAMINATION

7 BY MR. CANASI:

8 Q Why isn't the child testifying?

9 A The child is not in our facility.

10 MR. CANASI: She can't come to testify?

11 A I don't know why she wasn't.

12 MR. CANASI: Why not?

13 MR. ZINOBER: Let Danielle respond.

14 MS. GREEN: That's a legal strategy

15 decision, not a witness question, in my

16 estimation. It's a legal strategy.

17 MR. CANASI: To not have her testify?

18 MS. GREEN: She doesn't get to decide who

19 testifies.

20 MR. ZINOBER: I think the chairman is

21 asking you.

22 MR. CANASI: I'm asking you.

23 MS. GREEN: Oh. Well, you want to hear

24 from my perspective? Okay.

25 MR. CANASI: Why wasn't the child

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1 testifying?

2 MS. GREEN: It was a protection thing.

3 The children that are in care there, their

4 identities, their very identities, the fact

5 that they are there, is protected.

6 MS. BELL: This man has been terminated.

7 MS. GREEN: Understood. But from an

8 evidentiary standpoint, you've heard from two

9 witnesses. There's more to come, and

10 eyewitnesses will testify. So not necessary to

11 jeopardize or make more vulnerable a child in

12 care was basically the strategy.

13 MR. CANASI: Are we done with this

14 witness?

15 MR. LAWSON: Can I just ask like two more

16 questions, please?

17 MR. ZINOBER: Yes.

18 EXAMINATION

19 BY MR. LAWSON:

20 Q Just to touch bases on something. The

21 CPI chronologicals, it's Page 6 from the back, it's

22 not numbered, but it shows that Mr. Duckworth was

23 interviewed on March 15th and his investigation was

24 completed and he told the CPI what he believed and

25 it's March 15th.

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1 The case was closed by CPI April 26. So

2 I'm not understanding if they had already told him

3 how they felt, what he thought about it, and the CPI

4 proceeded with his investigation, it still came back

5 not substantiated, why would HR, or whomever, go

6 against the policy that they wrote, which is the

7 policy -- I don't have the exhibit numbers because

8 they e-mailed it to me, but dealing with employees

9 involved in reports of child abuse.

10 No. 2 states that if alleged abuse is

11 investigated by CPI, the management staff and the

12 division director will communicate and coordinate

13 with CPI and will let CPI take the lead and conduct

14 the investigation.

15 Then Section C says: In cases where the

16 Child Protective Agency determines a report closed

17 with verified indicators of abuse, neglect or

18 abandonment, the employee will immediately be

19 suspended and directly will work with HR to schedule

20 a PDH.

21 That's for verified abuse reports. It

22 doesn't say anything about no indicators or not

23 substantiated, so it seems like you all took an

24 extra step against me because it wasn't verified, it

25 was not substantiated. But you took a step of

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1 verified abuse and went to a PDH which led to my

2 termination. Can you explain why is that?

3 A And, again, in consultation with our

4 human resources department, that was the course of

5 action that we were advised.

6 Q And the two employees, someone asked, was

7 there other employees -- I think they said in a

8 supervisory role -- that had abuse cases that was

9 terminated, and you mentioned two, two of which were

10 not in supervisory roles, they were in direct care

11 staff?

12 A Right.

13 Q They were asking about supervisors.

14 A Then to answer that question, I would say

15 no.

16 Q And you mentioned that those are the only

17 cases in which you are aware that -- in your almost

18 four years now that someone has been terminated for

19 abuse, but those allegations were verified and not

20 substantiated?

21 MS. GREEN: I'm going to object. That

22 wasn't the testimony.

23 MR. ZINOBER: I'm going to overrule the

24 objection. Go ahead and answer the question.

25 Q So once the question was asked, you said

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1 that these are the only two individuals that was

2 terminated due to a CPI investigation. And both of

3 their cases were verified?

4 MS. GREEN: Objection again.

5 MR. ZINOBER: Overruled. Go ahead and

6 answer the question.

7 A Both of them, yes, they were verified.

8 Q Do you know of any others?

9 A That I had direct supervision of? No.

10 Q Because I've been there for three years

11 and it's happened to no one.

12 A Those are the only two that I have

13 firsthand knowledge of.

14 MR. LAWSON: Understood. Thank you.

15 MR. ZINOBER: I assume this witness is

16 not going to be excused?

17 MS. GREEN: No. And I have another

18 question.

19 MR. ZINOBER: I'm not going to just keep

20 this process going. If you want to get this on

21 rebuttal, you can. But this witness is done

22 for now. Thank you. Call your next witness.

23 MR. CANASI: Before you call any

24 witnesses, I want to be fair about this. I

25 want to poll this board because I don't think I

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1 need to hear anything else to make my decision,

2 and I'm very transparent. I don't want to

3 waste the county's time. I don't want to waste

4 the time of the people sitting out there in

5 that room waiting. I don't want to waste the

6 appellant's time, I don't want to waste the

7 authority's time or the recording secretary,

8 stenographer, for that matter.

9 MR. CARBAUGH: I think we need to hear

10 from Ms. Simmons, maybe none beyond that.

11 There's a couple of reasons why. I regret not

12 calling attention to it sooner when we were

13 watching the video. But if you watch her,

14 she's not looking at the altercation between LG

15 and Mr. Lawson. And, yet, in her statement,

16 she claims that she saw the slapping, and she's

17 not looking.

18 MS. BELL: And heard it. And I think her

19 testimony changed. I was trying to find it. I

20 think initially she said it was on the face,

21 and then in her audio recording, in that

22 transcript, she said that maybe it was on the

23 shoulder, she wasn't really sure, he's got long

24 nails. If it had been on the face, there would

25 have been a mark. Go ahead, Neal.

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1 MR. CARBAUGH: That would go in your

2 favor. But opposed to that is -- according to

3 her statement, Mr. Lawson came to her moments

4 after the incident and said, "Hey, I'm sorry

5 I reacted that way and hit her." Well, now the

6 story has changed and he didn't hit her.

7 Like you pointed out, the video is very

8 difficult. In my opinion, it looks like he hit

9 her, but I couldn't swear to that, so that's a

10 tough one. But if a witness claims that Mr.

11 Lawson admitted at the event that he did strike

12 the girl, then that doesn't matter whether

13 there's video or not, there's a witness that

14 said he admitted it.

15 MR. TRICHLER: If she's credible.

16 MR. CANASI: If she's credible.

17 MS. HOSLER: I have concerns as due

18 process, I feel we should hear the county's

19 case to its conclusion. I'm undecided,

20 frankly.

21 MS. BELL: I'm with Neal. I think that

22 this whole thing is so tragic and we're talking

23 about a child and we're talking about --

24 MR. CANASI: A man's job and livelihood.

25 MS. BELL: Absolutely. I agree with

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1 Neal.

2 MR. CANASI: I do too.

3 MS. BELL: I don't think we need to hear

4 from all of them because I've been through --

5 I've been through all the testimony, I agree

6 with Neal.

7 MR. TRICHLER: I'm in Chandra's position,

8 you know, for the appellant issues, I think the

9 county needs to have its full day and they

10 weren't prejudiced in any manner. But, my

11 gosh, there's some problems. You have five

12 people there, mandatory reporters that do

13 nothing, and nothing happens to them.

14 MS. HOSLER: So what is the issue, do you

15 think? Do you think it's a violation of a

16 NAPPI?

17 MS. BELL: No. I don't think it has

18 anything to do with that.

19 MS. HOSLER: An employee to terminate, so

20 I could be terminated for being -- I don't

21 know. Let's just say I stole a piece of gum or

22 something from my employer. I could be

23 terminated for something like that, right, even

24 though it's not a criminal violation or some

25 other administrative law violation, and that

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1 would be perfectly fine.

2 MS. BELL: I don't think she was accurate

3 when she answered that last question. The

4 NAPPI piece, yes, it's talked about in here as

5 far as, you know, are there procedures in

6 place. But I go back to, if he did not feel he

7 was being aggressed against, then he has no

8 need to do all of these things. He didn't have

9 a need to do that. They were obviously, in my

10 opinion, playing around. They probably

11 shouldn't have been playing around.

12 MS. HOSLER: That's where I struggled.

13 MS. BELL: But I don't think that NAPPI

14 has anything to do with it. I think she got

15 ahold -- got HR involved, particularly when Mr.

16 Duckworth's stuff had already wrapped up, he

17 told CPI, "Hey, I think the guy lost his cool

18 and did something he should not have done." He

19 doesn't say he slapped her in the face. He

20 didn't say any of that. So I don't think that

21 what she said was entirely accurate personally.

22 I think this is --

23 MR. CARBAUGH: We're kind of

24 deliberating.

25 MR. CANASI: Let's hear from Andrea.

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1 MS. CICHON: I'm in support of the full

2 process because I think everyone has got

3 a piece to share that's going to add different

4 perspective and value. I am hesitant to jump

5 to conclusions after hearing on a couple of

6 people speak, but we're a very passionate group

7 and we're latching on to a lot of policy issues

8 that were not followed, so I do have an issue

9 with that. But I agree, I don't want to

10 deliberate before we've heard everybody out, so

11 I would be in support of continuing, at least

12 at a minimum, Ms. Simmons to hear that

13 perspective.

14 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Chairman, I would

15 suggest that in light of the discussions that

16 we call a brief recess so that the county can

17 decide whether in light of what's been

18 discussed they would like to continue to

19 present the same case they started out wanting

20 to present or whether the case is going to

21 change at all.

22 MS. GREEN: Well, I don't think I need a

23 continuance for that.

24 MR. ZINOBER: I said recess.

25 MS. GREEN: Right. We still want to

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1 present the witnesses. I hear what you're

2 saying, and certainly I'll change the order

3 that I had planned. It's obvious you want to

4 hear from Cynthia Simmons next, so I would be

5 fine with that.

6 MR. CANASI: Yes. If it's okay with the

7 rest of the board, yes, I do agree, I think we

8 do need to hear from Ms. Simmons, but I would

9 like us to have a five-minute brief

10 conversation after we finish with Ms. Simmons

11 because all I'm seeing here now is that after

12 my visit to Lake Mag that I thought things were

13 better and things had changed, but it hasn't.

14 If anything comes out of this, you all need to

15 get some better cameras over there. I'll have

16 a talk with Mr. Harness about that. So do you

17 guys want to take a five-minute break or do you

18 want to call Ms. Simmons now?

19 MS. GREEN: Call her now, Ms. Simmons.

20 MR. CANASI: Ms. Simmons, you've been

21 sworn in.

22 THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

23 * * * * * * * * *

24 CYNTHIA VERONICA SIMMONS,

25 having been duly sworn to tell the truth, the whole

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1 truth, and nothing but the truth, was examined and

2 testified as follows:

3 DIRECT EXAMINATION

4 BY MS. GREEN:

5 Q Could you please state your name and

6 spell it for the record?

7 A Cynthia Veronica Simmons. That's

8 C-y-n-t-h-i-a V-e-r-o-n-i-c-a S-i-m-m-o-n-s.

9 Q Do you work for Hillsborough County?

10 A Yes, ma'am.

11 Q What is your title?

12 A I'm a Senior Childcare Specialist 2.

13 Q Prior to coming to Hillsborough County,

14 did you have any experience working as a childcare

15 specialist or in that field?

16 A Yes.

17 Q Please describe that experience for the

18 board members.

19 A I have previous experience. I've been a

20 program manager. I've been a youth care advisor.

21 I've been at -- I started out at Tampa Bay Academy.

22 I worked myself up. Within six months, I became a

23 program manager.

24 Then from there, I was recruited to

25 Manatee Palms. From Manatee Palms, I worked in a

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1 group home which we opened very successfully. And

2 then from there, they decided to close it. And I

3 went to the Children's Home, and I was the program

4 manager out there until now, I'm with Lake Mag, and

5 I'm senior childcare specialist.

6 Q Can you please tell the board members

7 generally about your job duties at Lake Magdalene?

8 A Basically you want to make sure that the

9 children are safe. I work three days a week, I work

10 12-hour shifts. I come in 6 p to 6 a.m. My job is

11 to make sure that the children's homework is done,

12 any activities that's on the schedule, they shower,

13 they're in bed, do 10-minute bed checks, wake them

14 up the next morning when school hours was different.

15 Q Who was your supervisor on March 3rd of

16 this year?

17 A Well, my immediate supervisor wasn't

18 there. But Mr. Lawson was there.

19 Q Oh. You mean actually on March 3rd on

20 the shift that you worked?

21 A Yes.

22 Q I'm sorry. I got confused. So you know

23 Mr. Lawson, obviously?

24 A Yes. When I first came to Lake Mag, he

25 was my RSC when I first joined the county.

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1 Q Please describe for the board members

2 what was happening at Lake Magdalene on the evening

3 of Saturday, March 3rd, 2018.

4 A We had a young lady, she was turning

5 eighteen. And once you turn eighteen, you have to

6 be removed from the program because you can no

7 longer be there, so you have to go to a program like

8 an adult-care thing. So we was giving a celebration

9 of her birthday because she was turning eighteen the

10 next morning and she had to be out by a certain

11 time. So we was in the cafeteria, and everybody was

12 dancing, playing music. It was just a celebration,

13 she was leaving, she was going into adulthood.

14 Q Who was the highest-ranking member of the

15 staff on campus that night?

16 A Mr. Lawson.

17 Q Did you see him there at the birthday

18 party?

19 A Yes. He was in and out of the birthday

20 party checking to make sure of everything because it

21 got started a little late.

22 Q Please describe what you saw and heard

23 when Mr. Lawson first arrived at the birthday party.

24 A When he first came to the birthday party,

25 he didn't say anything. It was like a trash can --

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1 he came in and observed everybody. He kind of like

2 leaned on the trash can maybe about five, seven

3 minutes, and then he proceeded to leave.

4 And then he came back a couple of more

5 times and just said, "Hey, is everything okay?" And

6 everything was quiet, and he came back and he stayed

7 a longer time the last time he entered.

8 Q What happened that time?

9 A We had a young lady. The kids was

10 dancing, and some of the kids called him Dad. They

11 went over and they was hugging, it was like a little

12 reunion, they was talking. And one child proceeded

13 to go over and smack him, and then he smacked her

14 back and he held her arms down, and then he walked

15 out, and some of the kids went out after him.

16 So that's when I decided maybe it would

17 be best that we go ahead and shut it down and get

18 the kids back to the necessary shelters. So all the

19 boys left, and then I was like, you know, we can

20 give cake from Shelter 2 because that's the shelter

21 I was working in that night where the young girl

22 was, the one that had the birthday party.

23 Q What was your reaction to seeing Mr.

24 Lawson slap the child?

25 A I really couldn't believe it, I was just

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1 like, (indicating), you know. I didn't know what to

2 say and stuff. He kind of like came out of his

3 composure and stuff, you know, it was quick.

4 Q Have you ever seen a staff member hit a

5 child in care before?

6 A No. I hadn't seen it.

7 Q In all of your years in group homes,

8 never?

9 A Yes, I've seen that, but not -- I'm just

10 saying not at Lake Mag.

11 Q Not at Lake Mag?

12 A No.

13 Q How long had you been at Lake Mag when it

14 happened?

15 A Let's see, it will be two years October

16 31st of this year, so I probably was there -- it

17 happened in March. So, what? A year and four

18 months.

19 Q Why didn't you hop off your stool and go

20 right over to him when it happened?

21 A I was in shock. I didn't know what to

22 do. Then he proceeded after -- I mean, he walked

23 out immediately. So my thing is, if I walk out, I'm

24 responsible for five other kids, six other kids,

25 plus the other kids that was in there that didn't

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1 have any staff, so I have to stay in ratio.

2 Q Did you report your concerns about Mr.

3 Lawson's behavior to any supervisory employee or

4 agency?

5 A No, not that night because who was I

6 going to report it to? Mr. Lawson? He was the only

7 senior-ranking person that night. So my main goal

8 was to get everything under control and find out

9 Monday who I needed to talk to and stuff.

10 And I do understand that I'm a mandated

11 reporter. But, you know, my thing was trying to get

12 the kids, because some of the kids was very upset

13 about the situation, and get control and find out

14 the bottom of it. And, you know, I had never seen

15 nothing like that, really, I was in shock.

16 Q Did Mr. Lawson approach or contact you

17 that night that it happened and discuss what had

18 happened?

19 A He did apologize and stuff, and he was

20 just like, you know, he was -- he just said, I don't

21 want to lie. He said he was sorry that -- you know,

22 but his reaction and it was just like if you see

23 somebody on the street and they hit you, your

24 natural reaction is, you know, to hit them back.

25 But he approached me like twice. I was in the

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1 kitchen trying to clean up washing like the bowls

2 and stuff.

3 Q Can you back up and tell the board

4 members, did you just say that he approached you

5 twice?

6 A Yes.

7 Q Can you please break it down for the

8 board members and tell them, what did Mr. Lawson say

9 to you the first time he approached, and then what

10 did he say to you the second time?

11 A Well, he just came and said he was sorry.

12 He said he was sorry, and then he left and then he

13 came back probably about five minutes later, and he

14 was saying, you know, it was just like somebody on

15 the street just hit you unexpectedly, you know, your

16 natural reaction is going to be to hit back and

17 everything, and so that's all.

18 Q Did he say anything else to you?

19 A He just said, you know, his natural

20 reaction was, you know, to hit, that he was sorry

21 and stuff. He just kept saying he was sorry.

22 Q Was it clear to you why he was saying he

23 was sorry?

24 A No.

25 Q Did he ask your opinion about what he

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1 should have done?

2 A No, ma'am.

3 Q Do you recall being interviewed by Dan

4 Duckworth regarding the incident?

5 A Yes, ma'am.

6 MS. GREEN: And I'm turning to Exhibit 11

7 for everybody's benefit.

8 MS. BELL: I'm sorry. Could you repeat

9 your last question?

10 MS. GREEN: I don't remember it.

11 (Reporter read as requested.)

12 MS. BELL: The one before that.

13 MS. GREEN: The one before that, I asked

14 if -- I think I asked if he asked what -- if he

15 asked you what you thought he should have done.

16 MR. ZINOBER: Excuse me. Ms. Green, are

17 you impeaching your own witness?

18 MS. GREEN: Well, I'm attempting to

19 refresh recollection.

20 MR. ZINOBER: But you're not doing it

21 correctly because what she told another person

22 is not proper refreshment of recollection.

23 It's not something that she wrote down. It's a

24 hearsay statement made to a third party. You

25 can't use that to refresh recollection.

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1 MS. BELL: Ms. Court Reporter, if I may.

2 So to that question if he asked what you would

3 have done, he said no, he did not?

4 (Reporter read as requested.)

5 MS. BELL: That's exactly what I needed.

6 Thank you.

7 BY MS. GREEN:

8 Q Did Mr. Lawson ask what you would have

9 done if the child had slapped you?

10 A If he did, I probably said I don't know,

11 because I know, being a certified NAPPI trainer, I

12 would not have hit a child. They teach you

13 techniques, whether it's blocking or to step back so

14 that the child does not make contact.

15 MR. ZINOBER: I'm going to strike that

16 testimony because the answer was, if he did.

17 You asked the question did he, and the answer

18 was if he did. That's not an affirmation that

19 he said anything.

20 MS. GREEN: Sure.

21 MR. ZINOBER: So I'm striking that

22 testimony.

23 MS. GREEN: Okay. Is it all right for

24 her to talk about NAPPI?

25 MR. ZINOBER: In the abstract?

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1 MS. GREEN: No, as it relates to the

2 incident of March 3rd.

3 MR. ZINOBER: Well, if you want to ask

4 her what would NAPPI dictate in terms of the

5 way that you would respond to this kind of

6 behavior, you can ask that question.

7 BY MS. GREEN:

8 Q Can you answer that question?

9 A Yes, ma'am. First of all, NAPPI teaches

10 you the first thing, you never horseplay with any

11 children, no matter what, how familiar you are with

12 them. They also teach you that this is your 4 by 4

13 space. So you always want to protect this whether

14 or not it's with an X shield or whatever.

15 So if somebody comes up to me, I'm always

16 going to be ready, and I'm going to be able to block

17 any hits that they hit me. So NAPPI teaches you

18 techniques so you can defend yourself without making

19 contact with a child. And that's for the safety of

20 you and for the child.

21 Q If a child is engaged in horseplay with

22 you, why would you have to defend yourself?

23 A Well, you just broke a bond or you just

24 broke the policy because you're taught never to

25 horseplay with the child because then the child

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1 becomes too familiar and then they catch you off

2 guard and they want to horseplay.

3 I didn't know the child was horseplaying

4 until the next morning, I was informed. But, you

5 know, here it is, this child is horseplaying and,

6 you know, it catches you off guard, so you hit her

7 back, and now you have a situation that could have

8 been avoided by not horseplaying with the child.

9 Q What if a staff member is not engaged in

10 horseplay but the child is? Is there anything

11 that's covered in NAPPI about that situation?

12 A Yes. I mean, you still want to block,

13 you still want to protect yourself, you still want

14 to protect others and you want to like supervise the

15 child. And, you know, if you feel offended, then

16 have somebody else talk to the child, process with

17 the child and let them know, "Hey, we don't do this,

18 there's no horseplaying" and stuff.

19 We have house rules in every shelter that

20 the kids are given when they first get there, and we

21 have meetings that we inform them, this is the do's

22 and don'ts.

23 Q What's so wrong about horseplay that you

24 have to shut it down?

25 A Well, horseplay, you know, ends up to

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1 being like a physical altercation. It gets more and

2 more. You just can't stop it because, you know, if

3 I hit you and I hit you wrong, then, you know, I'm

4 going to come back at you and then we're going to

5 get into a physical altercation, whereas we don't

6 horseplay and you don't take me for granted because

7 when I need you to be respectful, you're not.

8 You're going to think, "Oh, I can do this because I

9 can do this," no, it's not good.

10 Q How sure are you that Mr. Lawson made

11 contact with the child, struck the child?

12 A Put my life on it.

13 Q How do you know?

14 A I seen it. I was right there,

15 unfortunately. I've closed my eyes a million and

16 one times trying to see if I didn't see it, and it

17 comes up the same way every time. So it's not like

18 I just woke up this morning and said, "Oh, I'm

19 coming in here and testify and say I seen it." I

20 mean, I actually seen, unfortunately I seen it.

21 MS. GREEN: One moment, please. Nothing

22 further.

23 MR. ZINOBER: Your witness, Mr. Lawson.

24 CROSS-EXAMINATION

25 BY MR. LAWSON:

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1 Q Ms. Simmons, how long have you been

2 working in the child welfare field?

3 A It's probably been a good 20 years now.

4 Q Are you aware of the procedures for

5 reporting abuse?

6 A Yes. I am also aware of the procedures

7 for reporting abuse. But you was the supervisor

8 that night, so who was I going to report it to?

9 You?

10 Q 1-800-96 abuse?

11 A I know 1-800-96 abuse.

12 Q You just asked me a question, so I just

13 wanted to let you know.

14 A No, I'm just saying. But the way I found

15 out about it is, you text the young lady, and the

16 young lady called me up informing of a situation

17 after they put you on administrative leave. But my

18 plan was to talk to Ms. Rhonda face to face and

19 everything. And I had just came off a three-day,

20 12-hour shift, so I wouldn't have been able to talk

21 to Ms. Rhonda until Monday.

22 Q So you have to get permission to call

23 abuse?

24 A No, I don't have to get permission to

25 call abuse.

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1 Q Okay. So what reason did you not call

2 that evening?

3 A Because basically I was in shock, and I

4 cannot leave my kids unattended to. So was I going

5 to call you to the Shelter 2 to watch the kids while

6 I go call the abuse line?

7 Q You mentioned that Michelle was in

8 Shelter 2 with you?

9 A I didn't mention that.

10 Q It was in your --

11 A I did not just mention that.

12 Q I didn't say just mentioned that. I'm

13 talking about your interview now.

14 A You said I just mentioned it.

15 MR. ZINOBER: Excuse me. Just wait until

16 you're asked a question and then respond

17 politely. Don't argue with the appellant.

18 THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

19 BY MR. LAWSON:

20 Q While you were in Cottage 2 because you

21 all went back to, you said, cut the cake in Cottage

22 2, Ms. Michelle was present with you. Correct?

23 A Michelle was there for maybe two minutes.

24 She got some cake and she left. She just helped me

25 carry all the stuff back to the shelter.

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1 Q Okay. One moment, because at some point

2 -- I have to find it in your statement -- you say

3 when Ms. Yvette came over with the kids, Ms.

4 Michelle was right there with you, but I'll get back

5 to that later. Can you explain your positioning in

6 the cafeteria, please?

7 A Yes. When you first came in, there was

8 trash can, and then there's like a bar. I was

9 sitting on the other side of the bar. You were

10 laying on the trash can. The kids was right in

11 front of me dancing. The young lady walked through

12 the crowd. And when she got to you --

13 Q I'm just asking for your positioning.

14 A Okay. Sorry.

15 Q Do you know the positioning of the other

16 staff that was present?

17 A Well, one lady is not here. Can I use

18 her name?

19 Q They're staff. You can use the staff

20 names.

21 A Okay. So Keyonna Tate was in the middle.

22 Q Middle of me and you or you and I? I'm

23 sorry.

24 A No. She was in the middle of the kids.

25 She was over by you, but she left. When the

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1 incident took place, she was in the middle of like

2 the dance floor.

3 Q And Ms. Michelle Veale?

4 A Ms. Michelle Veale, she was like on the

5 other side, I think closest to you.

6 Q Okay. On Page 14 of Ms. Simmons'

7 statement, she states that, "I could put my hand on

8 the Bible, that she," which is Ms. Tate, "was the

9 closest one to there," but she was saying that she

10 wasn't. She mentioned that Ms. Tate was at the end

11 of the bar and she was at one end of the bar?

12 A No. I didn't say that. I'm saying Ms.

13 Tate was in the middle, she was the closest to the

14 child. I was at the other end of the bar. I didn't

15 say Ms. Tate.

16 Q I was speaking of the interview. In the

17 interview, you said you was at one end of the bar,

18 Ms. Tate was at the other end of the bar and I was

19 by the trash cans?

20 A Yes. She was right in the middle. Okay.

21 You were right here. I was, say, right here. She

22 was right in the middle, right here closest to you,

23 which would have been the other end of the bar.

24 Q Understood. You said you would put your

25 hand on the Bible. Do you stand by that?

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1 A Stand by it.

2 Q Ms. Tate is the individual that walked

3 into the camera that came up and asked me the

4 question. So she wasn't where she said she was.

5 That's the individual --

6 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, you have to ask

7 questions, not make argument.

8 MR. LAWSON: I'm sorry. I was pointing

9 things out.

10 Q You mentioned that the kids witnessed the

11 slap, correct, and was discussing it in the middle

12 of you?

13 A I don't know if you remember. But you

14 told me to watch out for Baby Girl because she was

15 upset and she wanted to fight the young lady. And

16 that's not in the interview. I don't know if you

17 recall that.

18 Q It's in the interview.

19 A Okay.

20 Q Although I didn't say it, but I got that.

21 But you did say that the kids witnessed the slap.

22 Correct?

23 A Um-hum.

24 Q Which kids were those? All of them?

25 A I'm not going to say all of them. I'm

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1 saying certain ones mentioned it.

2 Q So you didn't witness them witness the

3 fight, you just heard them mention it?

4 A No. I witnessed the slap.

5 Q You witnessed them witness the slap?

6 That's what I'm asking you. You said the kids

7 witnessed the slap. So I'm saying --

8 A The kids came up and they said, "Oh, my

9 God, Ms. Cynthia, did you see that," and everything.

10 And then Baby Girl, as you call her, she was right

11 there under your arms when the girl hit you and you

12 hit her back. And you said, "Take care of Baby

13 Girl. Keep her in the shelter because she wants to

14 fight."

15 Q I didn't. But okay. You mentioned that

16 while you were over there, you was playing music or

17 Ms. Tate was playing music on her phone and you had

18 the speaker in your hand. Correct?

19 A Um-hum.

20 Q So therefore the music is louder to you

21 than it is to the other kids. But you say you heard

22 the slap over the music?

23 A The speaker wasn't that loud. It was

24 supposed to be a Bose speaker, but we couldn't get

25 it to go to the maximum, so it was barely -- it

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1 might have been at a 19 or 20, but you could hear

2 the slap.

3 Q So you heard the slap, so it had to be a

4 hard slap to hear it over the music. What was your

5 reason that you said shortly after the incident you

6 all ended the party? Do you know approximately what

7 time it was?

8 A It was very quickly after the incident

9 because, as you're aware, you came into the kitchen

10 twice, and we started cleaning.

11 Q I'm not aware.

12 A Oh. You're not aware. Okay.

13 Q But continue with the question I asked.

14 A I am. I'm getting to it.

15 Q Okay.

16 A So we decided right away to go ahead and

17 end the party because the kids started going outside

18 and stuff. So I was like, "Let's just clean up, get

19 the kids back to their shelter." They took the boys

20 out. We had the girls from two shelters in there.

21 I took the girls back to Shelter 2, and they took

22 the other girls back to Shelter F.

23 And then you proceeded to come in the

24 kitchen. You said, "Oh, I'm sorry," you know, "I

25 lost my composure" and everything, "I would not" --

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1 "what would you do if somebody was to hit you in the

2 street?"

3 Q Okay. You said that you took the girls

4 back to Cottage 2, and then I proceeded to come into

5 the kitchen?

6 A No. I said you came into kitchen before

7 I took the girls back to -- well, you came into the

8 kitchen before I took the girls back to Shelter 2

9 because we was in there cleaning up, so you asked me

10 why was we cleaning up. So I'm trying to give you

11 everything you're asking for.

12 Q Okay. So approximately what time was

13 that that the party was ended?

14 A I don't know approximately what time.

15 The party started late. And then start shortly, I

16 guess, about 8:30, 9, I don't want to put a time on

17 it, the incident happened, and we started cleaning

18 up and getting the kids out of there.

19 Q Can you tell my positioning? How was I

20 standing when I was over by the receptacle or by the

21 podium?

22 A The trash can?

23 Q Trash can, podium, yes.

24 A You was kind of like leaning like this.

25 And then when the kids came up, you kind of like

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1 raised up a little bit and very relaxed, and you had

2 your arm around the young lady you call Baby Girl.

3 Q Can you demonstrate the slap? How did it

4 happen? How did I swing?

5 A Do you want to come out here?

6 Q Yes, I can.

7 MR. ZINOBER: Just describe it, Ms.

8 Simmons.

9 A Well, the girl came up and she tapped

10 him, and then he went up and he hit her. And then

11 he held her hands down immediately and like held

12 them down, I don't know, like 60 seconds or so, I

13 wasn't counting, and then he walked out.

14 Q Okay. And where did I make contact with

15 the young lady when I slapped her?

16 A She was on -- you was on -- she was on

17 the right side when you made contact with her

18 because she -- in the cafeteria because that was the

19 closet side. Left side, she was on the left side,

20 and that's where you tagged her, the left side.

21 Q Like where? Face? Arm? Head? Like

22 where? Where did I make contact with her?

23 A If I have it, she tagged you in your

24 face, and then you tagged her back, and the next

25 morning, you told me that you guys was horseplaying.

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1 Q But I'm asking where did I make contact

2 with the young lady?

3 A I just said it.

4 Q No, you didn't.

5 MS. BELL: No, you didn't.

6 A I said the face.

7 Q You didn't. You said she tagged me in

8 the face.

9 A I said she tagged you in the face. I

10 said, if my recollection reminds me correctly,

11 you came back.

12 Q You mentioned that I came in the back on

13 multiple occasions and I apologized to you.

14 Correct?

15 A Twice.

16 Q There are cameras in the kitchen area.

17 Correct?

18 A I would assume so.

19 Q I'm advising there are cameras in the

20 kitchen area. So if it was mentioned that I came in

21 the kitchen and apologized to you, that would have

22 been on camera?

23 A Well, it should be on camera because you

24 came back there twice, and I have no reason to lie

25 about it. You were back there twice.

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1 Q So you saw me slap the kid. You saw me

2 put her arms down, and shortly thereafter, I walked

3 out. Correct?

4 A You held her arms like this down.

5 Q Okay. And then I walked out after that?

6 A You walked out, and then you came back

7 into --

8 Q -- the kitchen?

9 A You came back through the cafeteria, back

10 through the kitchen, because I was back there

11 washing a bowl and I was putting it up. And then

12 the second time you came back there and stuff. And

13 I even made a comment to Ms. Michelle, "Why does he

14 keep apologizing to me?" And that's what I said.

15 Q Ms. Michelle was in the kitchen also?

16 A Ms. Michelle was in the kitchen. Ms.

17 Tate was out there with the kids and stuff. So we

18 had washed up the bowls and stuff we used real quick

19 and get rid of the table clothes and stuff, and we

20 were sweeping the floor.

21 MR. LAWSON: No further questions.

22 MS. HOSLER: I have a few questions for

23 you.

24 EXAMINATION

25 BY MS. HOSLER:

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1 Q You mentioned something about a text

2 message involving a young lady?

3 A Yes, ma'am.

4 Q Can you elaborate on that?

5 A Mr. Lawson had sent the other staff that

6 was in the cafeteria --

7 Q Who?

8 A Keyonna Tate --

9 Q Uh-huh.

10 A -- a text message. And so she contacted

11 me and said, "Guilty by association," and then I was

12 like, "What are you talking about?" And she was

13 like, "They just put Tre on administrative leave,"

14 and I was like, "Whatever." So I was like, "I don't

15 want to get into it."

16 She then she called him, and then he told

17 her he was on administrative leave and stuff like

18 this and that they was going to be calling us to

19 talk to us about the situation.

20 Q That was the following morning?

21 A That was that next day, I guess Monday,

22 when they put him on administrative leave. Then she

23 got the text from him, then she forwarded the text

24 to me.

25 Q "Guilty by association," what did you

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1 take that to mean?

2 A I don't know what it meant, because I was

3 like, "I'm not guilty, I didn't hit anybody."

4 Q Speaking of the hitting, you said you

5 witnessed the entire slap, the entire incident. Do

6 you remember if the child struck Mr. Lawson just

7 once, just once on the face?

8 A It was like a bounce tag. You know how

9 you go like that? It was like that (indicating).

10 Q So it was one time, but it just kind of

11 bounced?

12 A Yes.

13 Q And then he struck her back?

14 A Yes.

15 Q And then you said he held her hand down?

16 A He held both of her arms down so she

17 wouldn't come up to hit him again.

18 Q Then what did she do?

19 A She was like, "Oh, well, you told me" --

20 something about, "Don't ever get caught off guard."

21 And she was like, you know, "You got caught off

22 guard."

23 Q And then he immediately left the room?

24 A Yes, ma'am.

25 Q Immediately?

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1 A Immediately.

2 Q Did he have anything in his hand at the

3 time?

4 A I didn't see anything.

5 Q I didn't see anything?

6 A Unh-hunh, he didn't have nothing.

7 Q You said you were shocked by the

8 incident?

9 A Um-hum.

10 Q Did you run up to -- you saw a little

11 girl get struck, and I can understand how that would

12 be shocking to an adult. Did you go up to her and

13 see if she was okay?

14 A After, because she kept coming in, I was

15 like, "You need to come in."

16 And she was like, "I don't have to do

17 what you say."

18 And I was like, "We just need to be sure

19 you're okay because we're going to close out."

20 So then I directed Ms. Tate, which was

21 her staff, I said, "Look, you have a better rapport

22 with her, so maybe you need to find out, you know,

23 she was okay, whatever," so Ms. Tate started talking

24 to her.

25 Q Was that immediately after she was

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1 struck?

2 A Um-hum.

3 Q So you guys ran over to her?

4 A No, no. I'm not saying we ran over to

5 her. I'm saying when Mr. Tre left, some of the kids

6 went outside with him, and she was one of them. So

7 we was getting the kids back in the cafeteria.

8 That's when we decided to go ahead and shut it down.

9 So then she wouldn't come inside for me,

10 so I had Ms. Tate speak to her and tell her -- you

11 know, ask her was she okay and that she needed to

12 come in.

13 Q What did she say? She said she didn't

14 want to talk about it?

15 A No. She talked to Ms. Tate. She was

16 like, "Oh, well, he said, don't get caught off

17 guard," you know. And that's when Ms. Tate says,

18 "Well, they was horseplaying." I said, "You can't

19 horseplay with a child."

20 EXAMINATION

21 BY MR. TRICHLER:

22 Q What dose it mean in your mind to be a

23 mandatory reporter?

24 A A mandatory reporter is someone when you

25 see abuse stuff, you need to call 1-800-96-abuse.

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1 Q Are you a mandatory reporter?

2 A We are all mandatory reporters, yes, sir.

3 Q You were on the night of the incident as

4 well. Right?

5 A Yes, sir.

6 Q Why didn't you call?

7 A Well, I didn't have anybody to cover my

8 shelter, so I couldn't call then. So I was going to

9 run it by Ms. Rhonda on Monday and talk to her about

10 the situation.

11 Q Does the law allow for any time frames to

12 report instances of abuse where you personally

13 witnessed it?

14 A Yes. I think you have 24 hours as long

15 as you report it.

16 Q Was there any time, instead of washing

17 bowls in the kitchen, you might could have called

18 the abuse hotline?

19 A Probably. But who was going to watch the

20 kids that I was responsible for?

21 Q Were any of the kids in the kitchen when

22 you were washing the bowls?

23 A No. I used the staff and everything.

24 That's why I was hurrying up. I used the staff to

25 watch the kids, and then after they kept going in

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1 and out, we got the kids out of there.

2 Q The staff couldn't watch the kids while

3 you called in abuse where you said you couldn't

4 believe it happened?

5 A We have -- in my shelter, I was

6 responsible for so many girls. It's a 6 to 1 ratio.

7 So if I leave somebody with -- I can't leave one

8 person with 12 kids. I can't leave one person with

9 seven kids. So in order to make sure that the

10 ratios are intact and somebody could come to my

11 shelter, then I would have had to get permission

12 from Mr. Lawson to move around people.

13 EXAMINATION

14 BY MR. CANASI:

15 Q You don't carry cell phones with you?

16 A We don't use our cell phones, sir.

17 Q So you would not use your cell phone to

18 report abuse?

19 A Why would I use my cell phone when that

20 happened on company's time? And we're not supposed

21 to be on our cell phones.

22 Q That makes absolutely no sense to me. I

23 mean, if there's an abuse situation, I don't care

24 what company policy is. You've got a cell phone on

25 you and that's the only way you can report an abuse

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1 because you've got six kids you've got to watch,

2 that cell phone should have been used, shouldn't it?

3 Let me ask a question. There was a

4 comment you made that -- or a comment that I heard

5 about that there was music playing and that you

6 could hear the slap over the music.

7 A The music wasn't very loud. It was -- I

8 have this little personal Bose speaker, but it

9 wasn't working because it wasn't charged, so you

10 could barely hear the music, so then they started

11 playing the music on the cell phone, and it only

12 went so loud. So the music never did -- so we

13 stopped using it for a speaker because we couldn't

14 get the thing to work because I had charged it a

15 couple of days before the party.

16 Q So was the slap like that (indicating)?

17 A Yes, you could hear it.

18 Q (Indicating.) About that loud?

19 A Um-hum.

20 Q About like that (indicating).

21 A Like that (indicating).

22 Q But there was no report of any marks on

23 the child's face? And if the slap was that hard,

24 (indicating) -- that left a mark on my hand by doing

25 that.

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1 A The child is very dark. So even if she

2 would have had a mark, you wouldn't have been able

3 to see it because she's about the color of your name

4 tag minus the white writing.

5 EXAMINATION

6 BY MS. BELL:

7 Q What about the fingernails that you

8 mentioned?

9 A Fingernails?

10 Q In your transcript, you mention that

11 because Mr. Lawson has long nails, he would have

12 likely left scratch marks.

13 A If you're hitting somebody, I mean -- the

14 nurse checked her out.

15 MR. CANASI: Can we roll that video? I'd

16 like to see it. Let's get that video rolling.

17 MS. GREEN: Do want the screen in? Do

18 you want me to move the screen?

19 MR. CANASI: Let's move the screen. I'm

20 going to step over there again.

21 (Playing video.)

22 EXAMINATION

23 BY MR. CANASI:

24 Q Where are you at?

25 A I'm right here. That's Ms. Michelle.

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1 That's another staff.

2 Q Who's another staff?

3 A That's Tre, that's Baby Girl, that's Ms.

4 -- that's --

5 MS. BELL: LG?

6 MR. CANASI: Let's roll it back again.

7 (Playing video.)

8 Q This is you? Watch it.

9 A Yes.

10 Q That's LG. Okay.

11 A Um-hum.

12 Q You were looking here?

13 A I was looking right at him.

14 Q At that point. Okay.

15 MR. CANASI: Roll it again.

16 (Playing video.)

17 THE WITNESS: This is staff that sent me

18 the text.

19 Q You're looking here. Now you're looking

20 there. You just turned away. Now you're turning.

21 A See, I looked.

22 Q You looked, but not while she was

23 slapping him.

24 A Yes. I seen him slap her, I seen it.

25 Q You seen her slap him?

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1 A Um-hum.

2 EXAMINATION

3 BY MS. CICHON:

4 Q Why didn't you get up? If this was so

5 egregious and the slap was that loud, why did you

6 not get up from your stool as a member of

7 leadership?

8 A Because I'm watching these kids here.

9 And Keyonna went over there to him, and then she

10 come over here and asked me.

11 EXAMINATION

12 BY MS. BELL:

13 Q But why did you not get up?

14 A Because my job was -- I had from this

15 area back to the bathrooms.

16 Q Aren't you a mandated reporter, though?

17 You said you're a mandated reporter?

18 A Yes, ma'am, I am.

19 EXAMINATION

20 BY MS. CICHON:

21 Q Are you considered a member of

22 leadership?

23 A No.

24 Q So this is your boss? Mr. Lawson is

25 considered your supervisor?

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1 A Yes, ma'am.

2 EXAMINATION

3 BY MR. CANASI:

4 Q So where is the music playing at?

5 A That's what I'm saying. That was the

6 Bose speaker down there. It wasn't playing. Ms.

7 Keyonna was playing the music on her cell phone.

8 That's what I'm saying.

9 EXAMINATION

10 BY MR. CARBAUGH:

11 Q Ms. Simmons, there's a couple of other

12 kind of discrepancies, positioning of Ms. Tate and

13 Ms. Veale, maybe not exactly. Plus, you mentioned

14 that Mr. Lawson grabbed LG, both of her arms, and it

15 doesn't look like he grabbed both of her arms, it

16 only looked like one.

17 And to be honest with you, watching your

18 face throughout that whole video, it doesn't look

19 like you turned and looked at the incident until it

20 was basically over. The slapping had already taken

21 place.

22 A I seen the young lady when she came

23 through here, and she --

24 EXAMINATION

25 BY MS. BELL:

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1 Q And I'm going to add to that that you

2 also said that Mr. Lawson walked out immediately.

3 He did not walk out immediately. You said that you

4 guys shut down the party. The incident happened

5 8:30ish. The party was not over, according to your

6 transcript, until between 10 and 10:30, so that is

7 not accurate, I don't believe. You also said that

8 you were going to get things under control.

9 A Right. That means get the kids back in.

10 Q You were still sitting there on your

11 stool?

12 A I got off the stool.

13 MS. BELL: Okay.

14 EXAMINATION

15 BY MS. HOSLER:

16 Q How soon after did you get off your

17 stool, ma'am?

18 A I'm not really sure. I'm not good with

19 the time.

20 EXAMINATION

21 BY MS. BELL:

22 Q While we watch this -- I've got another

23 question. At the very beginning of your testimony,

24 you said you had witnessed adults hit children

25 previously, altmhough not at Lake Mag. Is that

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1 correct?

2 A Um-hum.

3 Q What actions did you take in those

4 situations?

5 A Well, one of them, I was in the hospital

6 for like six months, I got kicked unconscious and I

7 didn't want to press charges.

8 Q So you were the abused in those

9 situations?

10 A Um-hum.

11 Q Have you witnessed an adult hit a child

12 in --

13 A I've seen an adult hit a child. And then

14 when I reported it, I was called a liar, they

15 changed my statement and everything. So, really,

16 when you report stuff, it doesn't always mean that

17 they're going to do what they need to do, so I have

18 witnessed stuff.

19 And then I got a call from Tallahassee

20 saying that I was going to be arrested because I

21 changed my statement, and I had to tell them I did

22 not change my statement and stuff. I said what I

23 seen.

24 Q Do you sign your statements?

25 A Yes, I did.

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1 Q So how are you able to change your

2 statement? If you give a statement and you sign to

3 that statement --

4 A Because they told me to e-mail it to

5 them, when I e-mailed it to them, it went to

6 Tallahassee. When it went to Tallahassee, the

7 statement was altered, but it still had my

8 signatures.

9 Q That's a pretty big allegation. How have

10 you handled that situation?

11 A Who? I mean, I told -- I told Mr.

12 Duckworth about the situation. I told people about

13 the situation. But the situation, the people no

14 longer work for the company, so -- but --

15 Q One other point of clarification. You

16 said previously when I was asking for the question

17 to be repeated that Mr. Lawson did not at any time

18 ask you, "What would you have done?"

19 Yet in your transcripts, I found at least

20 twice where you say he asked what you would have

21 done, and you have your response listed here.

22 That's on Page 88 as well as Page 117.

23 A Can I look at this?

24 Q I'm sorry?

25 A Can I look at this?

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1 MS. GREEN: She's saying, "Can I look at

2 this?"

3 Q Sure. It's Page 88 and 117 on our --

4 MS. GREEN: It will be different for her.

5 Do you know what exhibit it is?

6 MS. BELL: Exhibit 11.

7 MR. TRICHLER: Page 8 on her transcript.

8 MS. GREEN: Tab 11, Page 8.

9 MR. TRICHLER: I'm sorry. Let me find

10 where she was talking. I believe Page 9, Page

11 9.

12 THE WITNESS: Page 9 in Exhibit 11?

13 MS. BELL: Yes.

14 MR. TRICHLER: 22 through 23.

15 MS. BELL: The second instance is on your

16 Page No. 38, Line 18, so it's just a

17 discrepancy there.

18 BY MS. BELL:

19 Q Ms. Simmons, do you ever horseplay?

20 A No, I don't horseplay.

21 Q Do you know of other staff who horseplay?

22 A Yes, I know of other staff that

23 horseplay.

24 Q It's interesting because you mentioned in

25 here that Mr. Lawson came to you in the kitchen, he

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1 apologized, et cetera, and then the next day when

2 you all were talking about LG's points, Ms. Tate

3 says, "Oh, no, no, they were just playing."

4 And then later Mr. Lawson says, "Oh, no,

5 no, no, don't do those points. We were just

6 playing," which sounds like to me, it's totally fine

7 that they were playing because you were like, "Oh,

8 well, you didn't tell me that you were playing. Why

9 didn't you tell me you were playing?"

10 Well, if the playing was wrong, then why

11 would that not have been like, you know, "You

12 weren't supposed to be playing"? But that wasn't

13 your response. Your response was, "Oh, you never

14 told me you were playing."

15 A I didn't work in Shelter F when they did

16 the points. So the next morning when the staff came

17 in and they got briefed and stuff and they called

18 me about the incident, and I said, "No, she should

19 have three days of restriction."

20 So I told them to change her points and

21 stuff because Ms. Tate and them didn't change her

22 points. So when Mr. Tre came over, the next morning

23 he came on shift before I was leaving. And I

24 explained to him, "Hey, I had her points changed and

25 everything because no kid should be hitting a

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1 supervisor or anybody," because I don't want them to

2 think that's okay and stuff.

3 So he says, "Oh, no, we was horseplaying.

4 And I said, "Well, it's up to you. You can change

5 the points back if you want to. I'm not changing

6 them."

7 Q Going back to the reporting again

8 briefly, you said in your transcript, "I want to

9 report this, but I didn't know who to go to." But

10 based on your testimony that you've reported before

11 and based on your testimony that you are a mandated

12 reporter and based on the Exhibit 17, I think 17, 18

13 and 19, which are your policies --

14 A No.

15 Q -- that's not exactly true, is it?

16 A When I reported before, it was not to

17 1-800-96-Abuse. I got a call from a manager and it

18 was about a young lady in a situation and it had got

19 called in and I was one of the witnesses. And they

20 told me that I was lying, I did not see what I seen

21 and stuff, and I did see what I was seeing. So I

22 didn't have to call 1-800-96 --

23 Q I'm not asking if you had to call the

24 hotline. You said in your transcript, "I didn't

25 know who to go to"?

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1 A Right, because I don't know who to trust

2 there because, like I said, I've had a situation

3 before, so that's why I wanted to talk Ms. Rhonda.

4 Q That's interesting. So I think somewhere

5 in here, Mr. Lawson gave out meds that night, is

6 that correct, or the next day?

7 A Gave out meds?

8 Q Never mind. That's fine. Did you feel

9 comfortable with Mr. Lawson taking children to the

10 Strawberry Festival the next day?

11 A I don't know anything about going to the

12 Strawberry Festival the next day. I didn't work.

13 When I got off that morning, I was done, my shift

14 was done.

15 Q You said that --

16 A I didn't go to the Strawberry Festival.

17 Q I didn't say did you go. Were you

18 comfortable? You say in your testimony that Mr.

19 Lawson went to the Strawberry Festival.

20 MS. BELL: Did you go to the Strawberry

21 Festival, Mr. Lawson, with the kids?

22 MR. LAWSON: Yes, ma'am.

23 Q You were aware of that, according to your

24 transcript. Were you comfortable with Mr. Lawson

25 going with the children to the Strawberry Festival?

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1 A No.

2 Q What did you do?

3 A I didn't do anything, I wasn't there. I

4 got off at 6:00 that morning. I can't override a

5 supervisor.

6 Q So you witnessed --

7 A I didn't witness them leave.

8 Q You witnessed abuse on Saturday night.

9 You did not report it through any of the channels

10 that you have been briefed on, any of the policies

11 that your agency abides by. He went -- and you knew

12 that he was going with the children to the

13 Strawberry Festival, and you had witnessed this

14 horrible abuse, and you said nothing. It wasn't

15 until Monday when you talked to Ms. Rhonda. What

16 punishment, if any, did you receive for not

17 following your agency's policies?

18 A We got a coaching, and she talked to us

19 about the policy about remembering that we're

20 mandated reporters. She spoke to us about it.

21 Q So you were spoken to about it?

22 A Um-hum.

23 Q Is there anything on your permanent

24 record?

25 A I'm not sure.

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1 MS. CICHON: I have a question.

2 EXAMINATION

3 BY MS. CICHON:

4 Q I'm looking from your perspective since

5 you've got a long time working with children. If

6 you had to rank this incident on a scale of 1 to 10,

7 so 10 being the most severe thing you've ever seen

8 in career and 1 being maybe a misunderstanding or

9 horseplay or the wrong perspective, what level of

10 severity would you rank the allegations?

11 A Probably a 10.

12 Q Following along the same lines, so at the

13 birthday party, let's say there was a medical

14 emergency, so a child has an asthma attack or

15 cardiac arrest, goes to the floor. Where would you

16 rank the severity of a child in need?

17 A A 10.

18 Q What would you do if you saw a child at

19 the birthday party collapse to the floor having a

20 heart attack?

21 A Well, the first thing I'm going to do is

22 try to assist the child. I'm going to get on the

23 radio and call for backup, call for help, and clear

24 out the room, have staff take out the other kids,

25 just like if a kid is being disruptive and stuff,

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1 the first thing you want to do is clear out the

2 room.

3 Q But you were a witness to a Level 10

4 abuse situation in your professional opinion and

5 didn't get up off your stool, nor did you report it.

6 Do you have any regrets about not taking action that

7 night or doing something differently?

8 A Yes.

9 Q What would you have done differently?

10 A Probably would have went over to the

11 child and asked Mr. Lawson to leave and then called

12 it in.

13 MS. HOSLER: I have a follow-up question

14 to that.

15 EXAMINATION

16 BY MS. HOSLER:

17 Q Mr. Lawson was in a supervisory position

18 over you?

19 A Yes, ma'am, yes, ma'am. That was the

20 only supervisor we had that night.

21 Q Were you his direct report?

22 A No. Ms. Rhonda was at that time my

23 direct supervisor.

24 Q So your direct supervisor was present?

25 A Ms. Rhonda wasn't.

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1 Q Oh she wasn't. That's who you decided

2 you were going to speak to on Monday?

3 A Yes.

4 Q So you didn't have a direct supervisor

5 present on staff that night?

6 A Correct.

7 Q And then you were off the following day?

8 A Yes.

9 EXAMINATION

10 BY MR. TRICHLER:

11 Q Do you have Rhonda's cell phone number?

12 If you have an emergency, is there a way to get

13 ahold of Rhonda?

14 A Well, some people have her cell phone

15 number.

16 Q Do you have her cell phone number?

17 A I don't think I have her cell phone.

18 Q Did you have any way to get ahold of

19 Rhonda that evening?

20 A No, sir.

21 EXAMINATION

22 BY MS. CICHON:

23 Q If a fire broke out on campus, what is

24 protocol? Who is the night leader that you would

25 call if your supervisors --

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1 A We have some supervisors, but Mr. Tre

2 didn't stay that long. We have some supervisors

3 that work 6 p. to 2 a.m., and then we have a shift

4 leader and stuff. So if any emergency or anything

5 like that, you know, the shift leader -- we follow

6 the shift leader's direction.

7 Q If the shift leader is out of commission

8 helping a kid that's sick --

9 A Well, we all have -- if a kick is sick.

10 Q I'm just trying to understand the

11 escalation, the chain of command. So if physical

12 leadership is not present but it's a nighttime shift

13 and you need something because there's a Level 10

14 qualified emergency, what is your protocol? What

15 are you taught?

16 A Well, if it's a medical issue, then you

17 call the nurse, and the nurse gives you directions

18 whether or not -- what to do.

19 Q Any other incident, you would wait until

20 the next day until there was a leader?

21 A Well, I mean, I can't report it to the

22 guy that I seen hit the child. So we didn't have no

23 other supervisor.

24 EXAMINATION

25 BY MS. BELL:

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1 Q You just said there were other leaders.

2 A I said it was a shift -- she said what --

3 I said it was a shift leader. But he's over the

4 shift leader, Mr. Tre is over the shift. It's RSCs,

5 then it's the shift leaders 2s and 1s, but that's

6 his boss. He's the boss of him too and myself too.

7 EXAMINATION

8 BY MS. HOSLER:

9 Q So you didn't feel like there was really

10 anybody you could report this to?

11 A Right.

12 Q I have one question You keep referring

13 to him as Mr. Tre. How was he referred to at your

14 facility? Mr. Tre? Mr. Lawson? Tre Lawson?

15 A They called him Tre, but I always called

16 him Mr. Tre. I always called the supervisors Mr. or

17 Mrs.

18 Q Did any of the children know his last

19 name? Did you guys reveal that to the children?

20 A They might have known his last name, I'm

21 not really sure.

22 Q What about your badges? Your badges are

23 always --

24 A Our badges have our first and last name.

25 Q Okay. And you're required to wear your

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1 badges at all times?

2 A Yes, ma'am.

3 Q So if you were to turn your badge, would

4 that be a demerit? Would there be some sort of

5 disciplinary action?

6 A If I was to turn it?

7 Q Yes, to turn it out of the view of the

8 children.

9 A No. I mean, sometimes badges get turned

10 because some people wear them like a lanyard around,

11 so they can get flipped or whatever and stuff. Some

12 kids, they're good with reading and some kids are

13 not, so they're able to read your name.

14 Q Okay. So some staff didn't intentionally

15 hide their name as written on the badge from the

16 children that you know of?

17 A No.

18 Q Then my final question. It sounds like

19 the facility sort of selectively enforced some of

20 its policies and procedures. Would you agree with

21 that?

22 A Can you repeat that?

23 Q What I mean is, that the policies and

24 procedures were in place, but they weren't always

25 strictly enforced.

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1 A Yes.

2 Q You would agree with that?

3 A Yes.

4 Q Can you name an example of a time when

5 you saw the occurrence of selective enforcement?

6 A Well, it's like it's certain policies and

7 procedures. There are certain rules that certain

8 people can do certain things and then certain people

9 can't. So it's kind of like overlooked.

10 Q For some people?

11 A For some people.

12 Q Some people are given deference, perhaps?

13 A Um-hum, (moves head up and down.)

14 Q You would agree that?

15 A Um-hum.

16 MS. HOSLER: Thank you.

17 EXAMINATION

18 BY MR. CARBAUGH:

19 Q Ms. Simmons, I'm over here on the left.

20 Are you aware that the sheriff's office conducted an

21 investigation and found no criminal, no crime of

22 child abuse?

23 A No, I never talked with anyone from the

24 sheriff's department.

25 Q Did you know that they conducted an

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1 investigation?

2 A No, sir.

3 Q Are you aware that the CPI -- there was a

4 child protective investigation?

5 A No, sir.

6 MR. CARBAUGH: That's all I have. Thank

7 you.

8 EXAMINATION

9 BY MS. BELL:

10 Q So your testimony is that Mr. Lawson

11 struck LG on the left cheek. Is that correct?

12 A Um-hum.

13 Q On Page 22 of your transcripts, Line --

14 MS. GREEN: It's still Exhibit 11.

15 Q Mr. Duckworth asked --

16 "So you're not sure if he was -- if when

17 he struck or attempted to -- you're certain he

18 struck her?"

19 "Yes, I'm certain he struck her."

20 Mr. Duckworth: But you're not sure

21 whether it may have hit her shoulder or her

22 face or --

23 Right, because" -- and I'll skip down --

24 "the minor child was tall," blah, blah, blah.

25 Line 25, "I'm not sure about the face, but I

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1 know he made contact with her because, you

2 know, all of a sudden, he stood up. She's

3 taller than him. She's a pretty tall girl."

4 So your testimony tonight is that you

5 saw -- and I believe you said you have seen it a

6 million and one times when you close your eyes,

7 you've seen this incident, and he struck her on her

8 left cheek. Yet when you were interviewed by Mr.

9 Duckworth, you believe it was her shoulder?

10 A It wasn't her shoulder. It was up in a

11 higher in her body.

12 Q Why would you have told Mr. Duckworth it

13 was her shoulder, do you think?

14 A Because I was visibly trying to remember

15 all the stuff that I needed to tell Mr. Duckworth,

16 so I'm sorry if I made a mistake.

17 Q That wasn't accurate. Well, that's a

18 pretty -- I mean, that's a key point to this. This

19 man has lost his job. And you say on Line 15 of

20 Page 23: Because he has fingernails, she probably

21 would have got -- so I'm thinking mostly on the

22 shoulder. You don't say, "I saw him hit her

23 shoulder," because on Line 16 --

24 A Excuse me. I'm not able to follow. I'm

25 not sure where you're at.

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1 MS. BELL: Can you help her out?

2 MS. GREEN: I think she's at Page 23, and

3 the paragraph she's focused on begins at Line

4 10.

5 MS. BELL: Yes.

6 MS. GREEN: And that says, "MS. SIMMONS:

7 No, I don't think they took" -- can you --

8 A Yes, the nurse wasn't there.

9 Q So if you go down a couple of lines, "I

10 don't think they may -- nothing like that, because

11 if he would have hit her in the face, he probably --

12 because he has fingernails, she probably would have

13 got thing -- so I'm thinking mostly on the shoulder,

14 because he would have got probably torn skin or

15 something on the face."

16 MR. CANASI: "She" would have.

17 THE WITNESS: She would have.

18 MS. BELL: "She" would have.

19 THE WITNESS: Yes.

20 Q So did you see Mr. Lawson strike LG on

21 the face that you've seen a million and one times

22 when you close your eyes, as you've testified

23 tonight, or on most likely the shoulder, you're

24 thinking the shoulder that you testified to HR?

25 A I seen Mr. Lawson hit her in the face, on

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1 the cheek.

2 Q So why did you tell Mr. Duckworth it was

3 the shoulder? Because there's a lot of conversation

4 there, a lot of back and forth, long fingernails,

5 where everybody was standing.

6 A Well, the girl is tall, she's taller than

7 him and she went back like that, so I mean -- and

8 the hit could have came and brushed down on her

9 shoulder, so I mean --

10 Q You witnessed it. Did you see the hit

11 come down and brush her shoulder?

12 A Ma'am, I seen the hit and stuff, you

13 know.

14 Q Ma'am, you've given two different

15 versions, so I'm just trying to find out --

16 A I seen him hit the young lady. Whether

17 or not he did it intentional, whether or not he did

18 it with malice, or whatever, but he struck the young

19 lady back. I was not aware that it was -- that CPI

20 was involved. I was not aware that the sheriff's

21 department was involved. None of these people

22 contacted me for a statement.

23 Q But Mr. Duckworth did?

24 A Mr. Duckworth did.

25 Q And you're now contradicting the

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1 statement that you made and you have several times?

2 A I'm not contradicting the thing, but how

3 long ago was this?

4 Q You are contradicting it.

5 A Okay. Well, I'm sorry.

6 Q I mean, are you not? Your statement, you

7 say, "So I'm thinking mostly on the shoulder." You

8 only talked to Mr. Duckworth. That's what you told

9 Mr. Duckworth. Yet tonight, a million and one times

10 you've closed your eyes, and it was on the left

11 cheek?

12 A Yes, (indicating).

13 Q And tonight, Mr. Lawson immediately left,

14 not according to that video. And tonight, Ms. Tate

15 was the closest, I put my hand on the bible, she was

16 by the end of the bar. That's not on the video.

17 A She was, she went up to him, Ms. Tate.

18 Q She did go up to him?

19 A Yes.

20 Q But not when it occurred?

21 A On the other video that I seen, Ms. Tate

22 was right in the middle. She was closest to him.

23 MS. BELL: I don't have any other

24 questions.

25 MR. ZINOBER: Any other board-member

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1 comments?

2 MR. CANASI: No.

3 MS. HOSLER: I have one final question,

4 and I'll let you go.

5 EXAMINATION

6 BY MS. HOSLER:

7 Q Did you discuss your testimony with

8 anybody before coming here today?

9 A No, ma'am.

10 Q So since the incident occurred up until

11 today, you haven't discussed the substance of what

12 happened?

13 A No. I received a transcript from Ms.

14 Danielle. That was it.

15 MS. HOSLER: Thank you.

16 THE WITNESS: You're welcome.

17 MS. GREEN: Just one question.

18 MR. ZINOBER: One question.

19 REDIRECT EXAMINATION

20 BY MS. GREEN:

21 Q Is it possible you were interviewed by

22 the CPI investigator by telephone and you didn't

23 remember that?

24 A It's possible.

25 MS. GREEN: Nothing further.

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1 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, one question or

2 none?

3 MR. LAWSON: No, sir.

4 MR. ZINOBER: Ma'am, you're not going to

5 be released. You can go back into the witness

6 room.

7 THE WITNESS: Okay.

8 MR. CANASI: What's the board's pleasure

9 here? Do you want to continue going? Do you

10 feel like you need to listen to any more

11 witnesses?

12 MS. CICHON: I have respect for the

13 process, but I also think I've heard enough.

14 MS. BELL: I agree, I agree. She has

15 contradicted herself multiple times. She has

16 spoken to people she doesn't recall. She has

17 texted and gotten texts from people that she

18 now she says she hasn't done, face, shoulder.

19 MS. HOSLER: I am always fearful of

20 violating people's due process rights, so I'm

21 in favor of giving the county an opportunity to

22 move forward.

23 MR. TRICHLER: I would be in Chandra's

24 position.

25 MR. ZINOBER: How many more witnesses do

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1 you have?

2 MS. GREEN: Let me look.

3 MR. ZINOBER: Could the clerk's

4 representative tell us how much time the county

5 has left of their 90 minutes?

6 MR. GUERRERO: 35 minutes exactly.

7 MR. CARBAUGH: I think that we should

8 hear the whole case.

9 MS. GREEN: Three, maybe four.

10 MR. ZINOBER: In 35 minutes?

11 MS. GREEN: Yes.

12 MR. ZINOBER: Without any closing?

13 MS. GREEN: No.

14 MR. ZINOBER: Well, just bear in mind,

15 you've got 35 minutes for the rest of your case

16 plus cross-examination.

17 MS. GREEN: The impatience of the board

18 is painfully clear. But I do need a personal

19 necessity break. It's been three hours.

20 (Recess from 10:23 p.m. to 10:35 p.m.)

21 MR. CANASI: Call this hearing back to

22 order. Roll call.

23 MR. GUERRERO: Canasi?

24 MR. CANASI: Here.

25 THE GUERRERO: Trichler?

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1 MR. TRICHLER: Here.

2 MR. GUERRERO: Strepina? Carbaugh?

3 MR. CARBAUGH: Here.

4 MR. GUERRERO: Hosler?

5 MS. HOSLER: Here.

6 MR. GUERRERO: Cichon?

7 MS. CICHON: Here.

8 MR. GUERRERO: Bell?

9 MS. BELL: Here.

10 MR. GUERRERO: Thank you. You have a

11 quorum.

12 MR. CANASI: Thank you. Ms. Green, call

13 your next witness.

14 MS. GREEN: Kyle Gregory.

15 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Gregory, you're still

16 under oath. Could you state your full name for

17 the record?

18 THE WITNESS: Kyle Richard Gregory.

19 MR. ZINOBER: Your witness.

20 * * * * * * * * *

21 KYLE RICHARD GREGORY,

22 having been duly sworn to tell the truth, the whole

23 truth, and nothing but the truth, was examined and

24 testified as follows:

25 DIRECT EXAMINATION

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1 BY MS. GREEN:

2 Q Can you tell me what your title is?

3 A I'm a child protective investigator.

4 Q Where are you employed?

5 A Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

6 Q How long have you been employed there?

7 A Three years.

8 Q And prior to working there, where did you

9 work?

10 A I worked at Kids Peace, which is a mental

11 and behavioral health hospital located in

12 Pennsylvania.

13 Q What was your responsibility there?

14 A I was a mental-health technician. My job

15 duty was to watch the children on our unit and

16 provide direct care.

17 Q Who is currently your direct supervisor

18 at the sheriff's office?

19 A My direct supervisor currently is Tracy

20 Eggleston. However, at the time of this report, it

21 was Vanessa Debaro.

22 Q Is her formal first name different than

23 Vanessa?

24 A Narkees.

25 Q How long did you report to her?

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1 A I reported to her for one year.

2 Q What unit were you in at the time?

3 A The special investigations unit.

4 Q What types of incidents did you

5 investigate in that unit?

6 A In that unit, we investigate human

7 trafficking reports, reports on foster cares,

8 reports on day cares, reports on group homes,

9 special annual reports, which would be reports that

10 would be on law enforcement or something that's more

11 confidential, and the school reports.

12 Q And the investigation that's at issue in

13 this case, what category do they fall into?

14 A This would be an investigation on a group

15 home.

16 Q Okay. When investigating whether an

17 adult hit a child, what factors do you take into

18 consideration to determine whether child abuse

19 occurred?

20 A We look to see if there was actually a

21 physical altercation like a hit and also if there

22 was an injury to the child.

23 Q When you investigate whether an adult hit

24 a child and you close the case no indicator of

25 abuse, what does that mean?

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1 A That there was no hit.

2 Q And when you investigate whether an adult

3 hit a child and you close the case verified

4 findings, what does that mean?

5 A That there would have been a hit and

6 there would have been a substantial injury on the

7 child.

8 Q Then the third category not

9 substantiated, when you investigate whether an adult

10 hit a child and you close the case not

11 substantiated, what does that mean?

12 A In this case, that there would be -- that

13 there was a hit but without an injury.

14 Q Did you investigate the allegation of

15 child abuse against Travenski Lawson stemming from

16 an incident at Lake Magdalene which occurred on

17 March 3rd?

18 A Yes.

19 Q What did you conclude happened between

20 Mr. Lawson and the child on March 3rd?

21 A From my findings, it was concluded that

22 Mr. Lawson had hit the child, however did not leave

23 any injury on the child.

24 Q What evidence led you to the conclusion

25 that Mr. Lawson hit the child?

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1 A We had spoken with several witnesses at

2 Lake Magdalene as well as review video footage.

3 Q You said, "We had spoken to witnesses at

4 Lake Magdalene." Were they all in-person

5 interviews?

6 A I spoke with one in person and two via

7 telephone.

8 Q Okay. What information from the video

9 contributed to your conclusion that Mr. Lawson hit

10 the child?

11 A During the video, I observed the child

12 walk over to Mr. Lawson and hit him two to three

13 times using her right hand on his left side of his

14 face. I then observed Mr. Lawson to raise his hand

15 and swing toward the child. And the child also

16 moved to the direction the hit had come from -- or

17 was going. I apologize.

18 Q Did you determine where on the child's

19 body Mr. Lawson hit the child?

20 A During the video, it appeared as though

21 he hit the child in the face.

22 Q How did eyewitness accounts of what

23 happened impact your findings if at all?

24 A Speaking with them, two of the people

25 that I spoke with had confirmed that they had

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1 observed Mr. Lawson hit the child.

2 Q How did you assess their credibility?

3 A I do not -- we typically just -- I don't

4 know.

5 Q Do you have any training on assessing

6 witness credibility?

7 MR. ZINOBER: I'm going to sustain an

8 objection that I'm making. You're usurping the

9 prerogative of the board by presuming that this

10 witness is going to tell the board how to

11 assess credibility.

12 MS. GREEN: Oh, no. That was not my

13 intent. I apologize if you interpreted that.

14 My apologize. That was not my intent at all.

15 MR. ZINOBER: He can testify as to what

16 evidence he considered to support his findings.

17 But in terms of assessing witness credibility,

18 I'm not permitting that question.

19 MS. GREEN: Understood.

20 BY MS. GREEN:

21 Q What information from Ms. Simmons

22 contributed to your conclusion that Mr. Lawson hit

23 the child?

24 A Ms. Simmons had -- she had informed me

25 that she witnessed the punching -- I mean the hit, I

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1 apologize -- and that Mr. Lawson appeared angry and

2 embarrassed during the hit.

3 Q Who was the other eyewitness?

4 A Michelle Veale.

5 Q What information from her contributed to

6 your conclusion that Mr. Lawson hit the child?

7 A She had said that she had observed the

8 hit and also heard the sound of both the smacks from

9 the child and from Mr. Lawson.

10 Q Did you interview Mr. Lawson?

11 A Yes.

12 Q What was his explanation to you of what

13 happened between he and the child on March 3rd?

14 A He had said the child had come over

15 trying to -- that the child had come over to him

16 to -- and had slapped him on the face and that he

17 had flinched toward the child but did not make

18 contact with the child.

19 Q Did Mr. Lawson's explanation hold up

20 against the other evidence you collected?

21 A No.

22 Q Why not?

23 A Based on the two witnesses who they had

24 observed the hit and heard the hit, as well as the

25 video evidence that showed that Mr. Lawson -- it

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1 appeared that Mr. Lawson hit the child.

2 MS. GREEN: Nothing further.

3 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson?

4 CROSS-EXAMINATION

5 BY MR. LAWSON:

6 Q Mr. Gregory, can you briefly explain what

7 it is you do, the outcome that you seek?

8 A Can you rephrase the question, please?

9 Q Can you explain during your investigation

10 what outcome you seek?

11 A Yes. We close our reports with no

12 indicator findings, not substantiated findings and

13 verified findings.

14 Q Your purpose around an abuse

15 investigation is? What is your purpose around an

16 abuse investigation?

17 A We are trying to determine whether or not

18 child abuse has occurred.

19 Q How confident are you in your role as a

20 CPI?

21 A Fairly comfortable.

22 Q Upon completion of an investigation, do

23 you stand by your findings?

24 A Yes, sir.

25 Q The reason I ask is because, even now

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1 you're mentioning that it appears as if I slapped

2 the child. But you explained that your decision for

3 not substantiated said that I did slap the child but

4 I didn't substantially injure the child?

5 A Yes. I looked at both the evidence from

6 what I was told from the eyewitnesses and also what

7 I observed in the video footage. That's what it

8 appeared. That's what it looked like I had seen in

9 the video footage.

10 Q Okay. It is mentioned in your report on

11 multiple occasions that someone reported to you that

12 I would not be terminated, but I'm not sure why an

13 adult name was redacted in this report. Do you

14 recall who that was?

15 A Not off the top of my head of who that

16 was, no.

17 MR. LAWSON: No further questions.

18 EXAMINATION

19 BY MR. CANASI:

20 Q Did someone tell you that he would not be

21 terminated?

22 A Yes. When I was reviewing the notes, I

23 had seen that.

24 Q Okay. And the video that you saw, is it

25 the same video that we've seen here tonight?

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1 MS. GREEN: I don't think he knows what's

2 here tonight.

3 MS. HOSLER: He hasn't seen the video?

4 BY MR. CANASI:

5 Q If you saw the video we have here

6 tonight, would you know if it's the same video you

7 saw?

8 A Yes, sir.

9 MR. CANASI: Can you play it, please?

10 MS. GREEN: Yes, sir.

11 (Playing video.)

12 MR. CANASI: You can stop it. Actually,

13 let it keep running.

14 BY MR. CANASI:

15 Q So from your perspective, what you saw

16 there was a hit?

17 A Yes, sir.

18 MR. CANASI: I don't have any questions.

19 Any questions from the rest of the Board?

20 MR. CARBAUGH: As long as we've got the

21 video up, can I ask you a favor? Go ahead and

22 rewind it a bit. There you go.

23 EXAMINATION

24 BY MR. CARBAUGH:

25 Q Can you the point out Ms. Simmons,

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1 Cynthia Simmons? Do you know where she is?

2 A Only if I took a guess.

3 MR. CARBAUGH: Can somebody please point

4 her out?

5 (Ms. Green indicating.)

6 Q That's one of the witnesses that you

7 spoke to?

8 A Yes.

9 Q If you back it up before the incident.

10 Do me a favor, just look at Ms. Simmons' face and

11 tell me -- or ask Ms. Green to pause the tape when

12 you think she's looking at Mr. Lawson and the minor

13 child.

14 (Playing video.)

15 A Right now. It appears real quick, she

16 looked over, but --

17 Q She's looking away now?

18 A Yes.

19 MR. CARBAUGH: Play it just a little bit

20 more.

21 (Playing video.)

22 THE WITNESS: Now.

23 Q Yes. The incident is over, and all of

24 the supposed slapping on both parties is done.

25 There were a number of discrepancies in Ms. Simmons'

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1 testimony, both written testimony as well as the

2 verbal testimony tonight. In terms of that video,

3 she described several things that, after we watched

4 the video, were not exactly the case.

5 Now, I'm asking you, after watching her

6 face during that video, do you think that she was

7 watching? Did she see the slapping take place?

8 A After watching the video, no.

9 EXAMINATION

10 BY MS. BELL:

11 Q Along the line, if we could please

12 rewind. Could we point out for Mr. Gregory Ms.

13 Veale?

14 MS. GREEN: She's the one in the ball cap

15 right there.

16 Q So let's do the same thing and watch her

17 when the incident takes place. (Playing video.)

18 She doesn't turn around. She's turned around.

19 After watching this video, does it look like --

20 two-part question. One, does it look like is it

21 Veale --

22 A Veale.

23 Q Does it look like Ms. Veale saw the slap,

24 No. 1? And, No. 2, her reaction following this

25 incident, is that something you would expect to see

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1 from someone who just witnessed a child get slapped?

2 A To answer the first part of the question,

3 she was facing the area where the hit would have

4 occurred. I don't know, I can't see the front of

5 her face to be able to make that determination.

6 Q So based on her body language?

7 A Yes, based on her body language.

8 MS. BELL: Could we rewind and just watch

9 that part again, please?

10 (Playing video.)

11 MS. HOSLER: Cell phones aren't allowed?

12 MS. BELL: Right.

13 BY MS. BELL:

14 Q What would your opinion on that be as far

15 as that woman, Ms. Veale, just witnessed the abuse

16 of a child?

17 A I don't know if I can speak on what

18 anyone would feel when that would happen. People do

19 act in different ways.

20 Q In your experience, people who work in

21 childcare, particularly in situations like these

22 homes, would that be typical of someone with

23 childcare responsibilities to react? I mean, we can

24 keep playing.

25 A No, ma'am.

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1 EXAMINATION

2 BY MS. CICHON:

3 Q I just have one question for you.

4 What is, I guess, the follow-through, part of the

5 chain of command for the CPI? So let's say you go

6 through the investigation, you make your

7 determination, so there's a disposition on a case,

8 it's closed.

9 Have there any been any experiences, any

10 examples in your experience where the findings have

11 been inaccurate and the case has been reopened and

12 resolved differently than what the initial

13 disposition was?

14 A Not since I've been employed.

15 Q How long have you been employed?

16 A Three years.

17 EXAMINATION

18 BY MS. BELL:

19 Q Did you say you don't recall who stated

20 to you that Mr. Lawson would not be terminated?

21 A I would have to give you two names. I do

22 not know for sure which one it was.

23 MR. CANASI: But someone did tell you

24 that?

25 THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

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1 BY MS. BELL:

2 Q Who redacted these files? Why is an

3 adult being redacted in this case? Would that be

4 your office or --

5 A It would be through our office. Whenever

6 a report is requested from our office, they do have

7 to take out certain confidential information. It's

8 not up to me what information. That would be on

9 them.

10 Q Can you think of any reason why someone,

11 an adult saying that Mr. Lawson will not be

12 terminated, why that might be redacted from this

13 file? Can you think of any reason why?

14 A Why it would be redacted from my report?

15 Q It's his report. Correct?

16 MS. BELL: Mr. Lawson, that you were

17 referring to?

18 MR. LAWSON: Yes, ma'am.

19 BY MS. BELL:

20 Q Yes. It's redacted from your report.

21 A If she had said that to me, it would be

22 in my notes. That's not something that I would put,

23 because I'm not investigating whether or not he's

24 getting terminated or anything like that. I'm

25 investigating whether or not there was child abuse.

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1 So that would have been something I may not have put

2 in the report just due to that reason.

3 Q You did put it in the report. The name

4 is redacted.

5 A Okay.

6 Q My question is: Why is the name of an

7 adult who apparently has the authority to speak on

8 whether or not Mr. Lawson's career will be ended,

9 why is that person given anonymity?

10 A I can't answer that. I'm not the one who

11 redacts the information. I can't speak to that.

12 Q But you said there were two names? It

13 would be one of two people that you think would have

14 been the one who told you that?

15 A Yes.

16 Q Who were those two people?

17 A JoAnn Rollins and Rhonda Rhodes.

18 MS. BELL: Thank you.

19 EXAMINATION

20 BY MS. CICHON:

21 Q Can you tell me the sequence of your

22 investigation? So just walk us through the

23 sequence, when you're looking at video footage, when

24 you're speaking with the two eyewitnesses.

25 A We have 60 days to complete an

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1 investigation. We do have a number of other

2 investigations that go on at a time. Pretty much

3 when we get a report, our main goal is to make

4 contact with the child victim.

5 Depending on whether or not we have law

6 enforcement with us determines whether or not we

7 would speak with the AP or the suspect or whatever

8 word you would like to use for that. But, again, we

9 have 60 days to complete all of the other tasks that

10 are assigned, so it can go -- you know, different

11 tasks can be completed at different times.

12 Q Do you recall for this specific scenario

13 the order in which you spoke to the witnesses and

14 watched the video, if one preceded the other?

15 A Yes. I spoke with child then witness,

16 the video and then the other two witnesses.

17 Q So you didn't have a chance to go back

18 and watch the video after hearing the witnesses to

19 kind of have the dialogue we had tonight about who

20 was looking when the incident occurred?

21 A No, I did not look at that.

22 MS. CICHON: Thank you.

23 MR. CARBAUGH: I have a question.

24 EXAMINATION

25 BY MR. CARBAUGH:

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1 Q We were told earlier that there were five

2 witnesses. You just mentioned four. Were there

3 four or five? Do you know?

4 A There was three witnesses that I spoke

5 with.

6 Q The child?

7 A I wasn't counting the child as being a

8 witness, she was the victim in it.

9 Q Okay.

10 A If you're counting the child, then I

11 would say four.

12 Q Four. Can you explain how those four,

13 those three were chosen? Was it based on video?

14 Was it based on people coming to you? Were you

15 deciding who?

16 A I was provided their names.

17 Q We might play the video one more time. I

18 watched this video a number of times, and I look at

19 it staring at one person's face every time. And

20 after watching it a half a dozen times, the one

21 witness that I think was watching it the whole time

22 and would have seen more than any other person in

23 the room was a minor child. I think the initials

24 are KH standing next to Mr. Lawson in a red shirt.

25 And she was never interviewed. Is that correct?

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1 A That is correct.

2 Q Can you watch that and tell me whether

3 you think maybe she could have provided better

4 information?

5 (Playing video.)

6 MR. CANASI: That's your eyewitness.

7 A Yes, sir.

8 MR. CARBAUGH: Okay. Thank you. No

9 other questions.

10 MR. HOSLER: No other questions.

11 MR. CARBAUGH: Actually I do have one

12 more.

13 BY MR. CARBAUGH:

14 Q Did it surprise you when the minor child

15 said, "No, he didn't hit me"?

16 A Yes, sir.

17 Q Do you have any thoughts or explanation

18 as to why she would have, I guess, lied?

19 A No, I do not.

20 MR. CARBAUGH: Okay.

21 MR. CANASI: Any other questions?

22 REDIRECT EXAMINATION

23 BY MS. GREEN:

24 Q Have you had any other cases where a

25 child victim, for whatever reason, denies violence

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1 or abuse that you later determine actually did

2 happen?

3 A Yes, not that I can remember any

4 specifics at this time, though.

5 Q Do you know of any reasons why a child

6 not might disclose the truth?

7 A Some instances fear, some instances just

8 not wanting to speak to anybody, other instances

9 just not wanting to cooperate.

10 Q Is it possible that sometimes the child

11 wants to protect the person accused of abuse?

12 A It is possible.

13 Q The references that you made in your

14 report and your notes of people at Lake Magdalene

15 saying that Mr. Lawson was not going to be

16 terminated or had not been terminated, could they

17 have been referencing at this minute instead of

18 ultimately?

19 A That is how I took it when they had said

20 that to me.

21 EXAMINATION

22 BY MS. BELL:

23 Q But when it was said to you, the HR

24 investigation had already concluded?

25 A I don't follow up with the HR

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1 investigation.

2 Q I think, if I'm not mistaken, you spoke

3 with Mr. Duckworth?

4 A Yes.

5 Q And he informed you he was wrapping the

6 investigation up, he gave you his thoughts. So

7 that's interesting.

8 A Should I respond?

9 Q If you want.

10 A That's not something that we would

11 follow up with our HR report. Our findings are

12 different than whatever theirs would be.

13 EXAMINATION

14 BY MS. HOSLER:

15 Q Your findings had been concluded.

16 Correct?

17 A At the time of Mr. Duckworth speaking

18 with me?

19 Q At the time you heard that he would not

20 be terminated.

21 A Our findings wouldn't come out until

22 after everyone was spoken to --

23 Q Okay. So the remark was made to you in

24 the beginning of the investigation, the middle or

25 end?

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1 A I believe Mr. Duckworth spoke with me in

2 the middle of the investigation.

3 MS. HOSLER: Okay.

4 MR. CANASI: Any other questions for this

5 witness?

6 MS. GREEN: Yes.

7 MR. ZINOBER: I think we've heard enough.

8 MS. GREEN: I do have another question.

9 MR. ZINOBER: Well, I think we've heard

10 enough.

11 MS. GREEN: I think it's important.

12 MR. ZINOBER: Based upon what?

13 MS. GREEN: Based upon discussion of the

14 board members earlier in terms of delay in

15 process. Does that make sense?

16 MR. ZINOBER: One question.

17 MS. GREEN: One question?

18 MR. ZINOBER: Recognizing that board

19 members may follow up.

20 MS. GREEN: Of course.

21 MR. ZINOBER: And there are no more

22 questions after that.

23 MS. GREEN: Yes.

24 FURTHER REDIRECT EXAMINATION

25 BY MS. GREEN:

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1 Q What is the process after you close your

2 investigation for a report to go to the accused or

3 to go to the group home?

4 A When we have -- we would send out a

5 closure letter to the facility and also list the AP

6 or suspect's name on the closure letter.

7 Q Does the letter include your report?

8 A No, it does not. They still would need

9 to come into the office to request it.

10 MS. GREEN: No further questions.

11 MR. ZINOBER: Board members? No? You

12 are excused.

13 MR. CANASI: There's some witnesses out

14 there that have already been excused that we've

15 told to stay. Do they really need to stay?

16 MS. GREEN: Do you want me to answer

17 that?

18 MR. ZINOBER: They're your witnesses.

19 MR. CANASI: They're your witnesses.

20 MS. GREEN: Well, yes. I mean, in the

21 normal course of things, we put on our case.

22 He puts on his case, and sometimes something in

23 his case requires us to recall someone on

24 rebuttal, so, yes.

25 MR. ZINOBER: You can go and resume your

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1 seat in the witness room. Thank you. Next

2 witness.

3 THE WITNESS: Thank you.

4 MR. ZINOBER: Would you state your full

5 name for the record?

6 THE WITNESS: Michelle Buchanan, formerly

7 Veale.

8 MR. ZINOBER: And you're still under

9 oath.

10 THE WITNESS: Yes.

11 MS. GREEN: Are you sick? The only

12 reason I say that, I've spoken to her before

13 and she didn't sound like that.

14 THE WITNESS: It comes and goes.

15 * * * * * * * * *.

16 MICHELLE BUCHANAN VEALE,

17 having been duly sworn to tell the truth, the whole

18 truth, and nothing but the truth, was examined and

19 testified as follows:

20 DIRECT EXAMINATION

21 BY MS. GREEN:

22 Q Please state your title for the record.

23 A Treatment counselor.

24 Q When did you begin working for

25 Hillsborough County?

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1 A November 30, 2015.

2 Q Prior to that, did you have experience in

3 a similar-type job?

4 A Yes.

5 Q For how many years?

6 A I'd say case management, maybe over 10

7 years.

8 Q Do you know the appellant in this case,

9 Tre Lawson?

10 A From working.

11 Q When he worked for the county, what was

12 your reporting relationship with respect to

13 Mr. Lawson?

14 A He worked with operations in the cottages

15 with the kids and supervisor. I case-managed the

16 children.

17 Q So was he your supervisor?

18 A No.

19 Q Were you his supervisor?

20 A No.

21 Q Peers, then?

22 A Correct.

23 Q Did you work the evening of March 3,

24 2018?

25 A Yes.

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1 Q Is that outside your normal working

2 hours?

3 A Well, I have different work hours, and I

4 stay 8 to 5.

5 Q Are you usually there at 8:00 on a Friday

6 night or Saturday night?

7 A Sometimes.

8 Q So you don't have standard shifts that

9 you work?

10 A Correct.

11 Q Please describe for the board members

12 while you were working that evening.

13 A There was a youth, she was aging out, and

14 we gave her a party.

15 Q Did you see Mr. Lawson there at the

16 birthday party?

17 A Yes.

18 Q Please describe what you saw and heard

19 when Mr. Lawson arrived at the birthday.

20 A He was doing what he normally does. He

21 was watching over the campus and monitoring the

22 children, and he walked in the cafeteria at one

23 time.

24 Q What happened next?

25 A The kids were engaging with one another

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1 dancing. We had children on both sides of the

2 cafeteria, and there was a young lady, she was a

3 little rambunctious, you know, just kind of

4 bothering the boys, picking at them, just she was

5 really hyper.

6 She walked over to the side where I was

7 working -- where I was standing as well as Ms.

8 Simmons, and she kind of engaged a little bit, and

9 then she walked over to Mr. Lawson.

10 Q And what happened next?

11 A She slapped him about two times.

12 Q And then what happened?

13 A He slapped her back.

14 Q What part of the body did he slap her on?

15 A I think on her cheek.

16 Q Were you in a position to observe Mr.

17 Lawson's face when that happened?

18 A I believe at the time that I heard some

19 commotion and just -- I can see his face, he just

20 looked shocked.

21 Q What about him made you think that he

22 looked shocked?

23 A Probably that the child hit him.

24 Q No, I don't think you understood my

25 question. What about Mr. Lawson -- what about his

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1 appearance made you think that he looked shocked?

2 A Oh. Kind of like a surprised look, maybe

3 his eyes kind of stretched.

4 Q Right after Mr. Lawson slapped the child,

5 immediately thereafter, did you walk over to him?

6 A No. We had another staff at the time,

7 Ms. Tate. She kind of walked past me and just said,

8 "Well, I'll talk care of it and I'll try and calm

9 him down," and she went over to him. I don't know

10 what was said.

11 Q While cleaning up, did you see Mr. Lawson

12 in the kitchen?

13 A Correct.

14 Q Was this before or after you saw Mr.

15 Lawson slap the child?

16 A It was after.

17 Q What's the protocol when a child is hit

18 by a staff member? What are you supposed to do?

19 A Usually we try to remove the child from

20 the situation or someone should move out of that

21 environment.

22 Q Did that happen here?

23 A No. I had to ask several times for staff

24 to remove her even before that occurred.

25 Q Why?

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1 A Because she was just a little out of

2 hand, like I said before, really hyper, running

3 around, just doing more than usual.

4 Q And you said you had asked that she be

5 removed. Who did you ask?

6 A Well, that particular staff is not here.

7 She was actually in her cottage that night.

8 Q What is her name?

9 A Ms. Tate.

10 Q You didn't call the abuse hotline right

11 after this happened?

12 A No, I didn't.

13 Q Why not?

14 A I'm going to be honest. When she said

15 she would take care of it, that's what I thought. I

16 think that was Saturday. I'm off Sunday. When I

17 came to work, usually we have what we call a

18 briefing. That's where we go over all the kids and

19 read reports and there was no report at the time,

20 and my supervisor I had a discussion with her, and I

21 had to call in a report.

22 Q So you said that someone said they would

23 take care of it. Who was that?

24 A Ms. Tate.

25 Q By "take care of it," you understood that

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1 to mean what?

2 A To call up and report or write up an

3 internal report or something regarding the incident.

4 Q How many times did you ask Ms. Tate to

5 remove the child?

6 A It was at least about two to three times.

7 That child, she was just being wild that night.

8 Q How many times -- before the physical

9 contact between Mr. Lawson and the child, how many

10 times before that did you ask that she be removed?

11 A At least twice.

12 Q Then how many times after the physical

13 contact?

14 A At least once.

15 Q How can you be sure Mr. Lawson hit the

16 child?

17 A When I heard the commotion, when the

18 child hit him first, I could hear it, and at the

19 time that I had turned my head, I saw him strike her

20 back.

21 Q You said you saw him strike her back. Is

22 that what you said?

23 A Correct.

24 Q After you saw Mr. Lawson slap the child,

25 did you have any conversation with Cynthia Simmons

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1 about Mr. Lawson's conduct?

2 A I believe Cynthia had just said something

3 like -- or I said, "Did you see that?" One of us,

4 it was several months ago, so -- and Cynthia just

5 said, "I don't know why he keeps apologizing."

6 MS. GREEN: Nothing further.

7 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson?

8 CROSS-EXAMINATION

9 BY MR. LAWSON:

10 Q Ms. Veale, are you aware of the procedure

11 for reporting abuse?

12 A Correct.

13 Q At the time of the alleged incident, what

14 was the reason that you decided not to call abuse

15 again?

16 A Well, not just decided not to call it.

17 We didn't want to draw attention to the children.

18 Also, staff that should have been monitoring the

19 children -- because there was more than five that's

20 usually in that cottage -- they were at the other

21 end of the cafeteria talking between one another,

22 not monitoring the children, and I was there with

23 Cynthia. And at the time, our main focus was to get

24 those children out after the incident occurred.

25 Q How soon after the incident occurred was

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1 it that you got the children out?

2 A I can't give you an exact time. But I

3 went in the kitchen to clean up and get some rags

4 and take the cake back to the cottage.

5 Q Do you remember what time this incident

6 occurred?

7 A No, I don't.

8 Q Was it earlier, early in the party? Was

9 it late, the incident?

10 A Probably midway.

11 Q Can you demonstrate the slap that you

12 saw, hand motion?

13 A I just saw the young lady. It seemed as

14 though she may have used her right hand.

15 Q The slap that I -- did I slap the young

16 lady?

17 A You just slapped the cheek back.

18 Q And your immediate response to the slap?

19 A I'm sorry?

20 Q What was your immediate response to me

21 slapping the young lady?

22 A I'm sorry. It shocked me.

23 Q It shocked you. You say you didn't want

24 to draw attention to the kids. Were you not able to

25 step outside to call abuse if that was the case?

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1 A No, because there was staff sitting at

2 the other end of the cafeteria not monitoring the

3 children as they should have. They were sitting

4 there talking between one another and on their

5 phones.

6 Q You mentioned that you all were supposed

7 to report it and call abuse. Correct?

8 A I said that's what I understood. Then

9 she said, "I'll take care of it and try and calm him

10 down."

11 Q In your interview with Mr. Duckworth, you

12 mentioned that you initiated a report and was told

13 there should have been an internal report which

14 would be sent to Eckerd, and the youth's case

15 manager had to be notified. Is there a reason that

16 you didn't notify the youth's case manager or you

17 didn't complete the report that you initiated?

18 A Yes. I was told to write the report, and

19 whoever reviews them, they said that was sufficient,

20 but the case manager is always contacted.

21 Q But this was Saturday night when you said

22 you was doing this. But you say you stopped because

23 they said it was internal. That's why I was asking.

24 Is there a reason that you didn't complete the

25 report that night?

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1 A I'm sorry. I don't understand what

2 you're saying.

3 Q You say initiated the Eckerd report that

4 evening, according to your interview. Is there a

5 reason that you didn't complete the report that

6 evening?

7 A I didn't know there was anything else to

8 complete once I wrote a report. If there was

9 anything that was different, then I would have been

10 advised of that, I believe.

11 Q The reason I'm asking, because your

12 report was written on March 5th. This is March 3rd

13 when you say that you initiated a report that

14 evening that it occurred. But you said someone told

15 you that there was an internal report, so you was

16 going to wait until Monday to speak with Rhonda.

17 A I'm still not understanding what you're

18 trying to say. Am I able to look at that?

19 Q I'm not sure which --

20 MS. BELL: It should be Exhibit 13.

21 THE WITNESS: Okay.

22 Q It's Page 30, the transcript from your

23 interview.

24 Tab 13, Page 30, starting at Line No. 5,

25 it says, "Well, I was starting a report, but then

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1 they told me that's an internal report. Then that's

2 why, when Rhonda came to work Monday, I had -- I

3 went in to report it to her, and we called the abuse

4 line together."

5 When asked what you meant by internal

6 report, you mentioned, "I guess it's for Eckerd."

7 Then you said, "The internal report is for Eckerd.

8 So we have to send them a copy and notify the

9 worker. And we'll send the worker a copy if they

10 ask for it. But it goes in their system."

11 So I'm asking: Since you started a report

12 Saturday evening, why did you not complete the

13 report that evening and notify your supervisor and

14 the youth's case manager?

15 A I believe that's possible it could have

16 been on the wrong form. And then I was told that I

17 had to do it on some other form because when you're

18 saying "internal," internal would be within

19 Children's Services.

20 Q You said internal.

21 A Okay. Well, I'm just saying.

22 Q So did you not have access to the correct

23 forms if that was the case?

24 A I only wrote when I go in my G drive and

25 I pull up "incident report," that's what I pulled up

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1 at the time.

2 MS. BELL: That was on Saturday night?

3 THE WITNESS: Correct.

4 BY MR. LAWSON:

5 Q Okay. What was your reason for ending

6 the party when you did?

7 A Like I said, I didn't want to draw any

8 more attention to the children. I know there was a

9 few of them that saw it, but the other kids was so

10 busy dancing, they were engaging. We wanted to try

11 and get them out of the cafeteria before it was even

12 brought up or they made a big commotion about it.

13 Q Earlier in your conversation, you said

14 the party -- well, in your interview, you said the

15 party started around 7:45, 8:00. On Page 27 of the

16 same exhibit, the interview, you stated that the

17 party ended after 10 because you started to clean up

18 and you were going to cut the cake but decided not

19 to because so many kids -- and the gets kids were

20 getting antsy?

21 A Yes, they were.

22 Q Now, this is at 10:00. This was an hour

23 and a half after the alleged incident.

24 A And when I spoke to Mr. Duckworth, I let

25 him know that I wasn't exactly sure of the time.

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1 Several times, he started his recording and he

2 stopped it, he started it and he stopped it.

3 Q What time did you leave that evening? Do

4 you recall?

5 (No response)

6 EXAMINATION

7 BY MS. BELL:

8 Q I'm sorry. That was during the interview

9 with HR, which we have the recording, we have the

10 actual recording. You're saying that during his

11 interview with you, in the beginning he says: My

12 name is Mr. Duckworth, blah, blah, blah, blah.

13 Here's what time it is?

14 A Um-hum.

15 Q Your name is blah, blah, blah, and he

16 starts recording. And then when he's done, he says,

17 "Okay. I'm going to end the recording now." Are

18 you saying that during that time when you were

19 giving your testimony to Mr. Duckworth, he was

20 stopping and starting the tape recorder?

21 A I said sometimes he had to stop it and

22 start it, and then he would start over, I guess when

23 he wanted to form the question in the correct way,

24 yes.

25 EXAMINATION

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1 BY MS. HOSLER:

2 Q Was that also done to assist your

3 recollection of certain events?

4 A No, I don't think so.

5 Q Just to rephrase his questions to you?

6 A Correct.

7 RECROSS-EXAMINATION

8 BY MR. LAWSON:

9 Q After going back to Cottage 2, do you

10 recall how long you all were in Cottage 2 prior to

11 leaving for the evening?

12 A I can't recall.

13 Q Do you know if it was a few minutes? 30?

14 An hour? Like approximate.

15 A I'm not sure. I know I just talked to

16 the young lady that was aging out because she was

17 having some anxiety about leaving and being on her

18 own or in extended care, and then I left.

19 MR. LAWSON: No further questions.

20 MR. ZINOBER: Any redirect?

21 MS. GREEN: No.

22 EXAMINATION

23 BY MR. TRICHLER:

24 Q At the party, did you have your own

25 personal cell phone with you?

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1 A No, I didn't have it. I think -- well, I

2 may have, I'm not sure. I might have put it in my

3 back pocket because we --

4 Q But you had it close to you?

5 A I really can't recall at this time

6 because we try not to walk around with phones on the

7 campus. We're not supposed to.

8 EXAMINATION

9 BY MS. BELL:

10 Q Is that against policy to have your cell

11 phone out and be using your cell phone while you're

12 on duty?

13 A Yes, it's against policy.

14 Q It's against policy?

15 A (Moves head up and down.)

16 EXAMINATION

17 BY MR. CANASI:

18 Q Who is the one with the white hat holding

19 her phone?

20 A That's me. I said we try not to, but

21 there are cases where some people like the staff or

22 something have my number in case of emergency.

23 EXAMINATION

24 BY MR. TRICHLER:

25 Q You said the other staff members were not

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1 monitoring the children, they were on their phones

2 in the back of the room. Is that right?

3 A Right. I know one of them was handing

4 out pizza, but they could have been like texting or

5 something.

6 EXAMINATION

7 BY MS. HOSLER:

8 Q What were you doing on your phone?

9 A It probably was just in my hand because I

10 don't know what I was doing at the time. But

11 usually I try and leave it in my back pocket.

12 EXAMINATION

13 BY MS. BELL:

14 Q But you said you have it because some of

15 your staff members might need to contact you if

16 there's some kind of emergency or something?

17 A Sometimes, only because I was there that

18 late, because I also have a special-needs

19 grandchild. That's normally if I'm there late or

20 something, but normally I use my desk phone.

21 EXAMINATION

22 BY MS. HOSLER:

23 Q Are you one of those employees under a

24 mandatory reporting requirement?

25 A Correct.

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1 Q You are?

2 A Correct.

3 Q Did you report this incident? I thought

4 your testimony was that you were shocked when you

5 saw the get child get struck.

6 A I was. When I come in Monday morning,

7 like I said, I didn't see any type of internal

8 report or anything. Then I went to speak to my

9 supervisor and report it.

10 Q I'm sorry to interrupt. So when you

11 witnessed the child get struck -- which I think is

12 pretty egregious, personally -- did you take any

13 steps toward the child? Did you run over to her and

14 say, "Hey, are you okay," or anything like that?

15 A No. At the time, Ms. Tate was standing

16 right there in front of Mr. Lawson, and then there

17 was something else going on. I think she was just

18 being defiant and not listening, and she was upset.

19 Something was going on in between inside and going

20 out the door with her as well.

21 Q So even though you were shocked, you

22 didn't find it necessary to run over and console

23 this thirteen-year-old child? Is that what you're

24 testimony is?

25 A No. Actually, the youth, she just kept

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1 -- she acted as if everything was normal.

2 Q After she was struck?

3 A And Ms. Tate was still there at the time.

4 Q After she was struck, she acted like

5 everything was normal?

6 A Correct.

7 Q Why do you think that was?

8 A We have some children -- and we don't

9 know their entire history coming from home. But

10 some children that go trauma, they're very

11 impulsive. We don't know why they do what they do

12 or they may feel comfortable, that it's okay to play

13 with the staff like that.

14 Yes, I understand that. Some children

15 are -- some people are desensitized to certain

16 things that others aren't, I get that perspective.

17 But do you think the two were

18 horseplaying? Or do you think it was a fight?

19 Would you classify it as an act of aggression

20 between the two or just horseplay?

21 A I believe the child was horseplaying, and

22 I believe it was a reaction from Mr. Lawson.

23 Q Do you believe he was responding in a

24 horseplaying manner as well, or was he angry, or

25 would you say it was a reflexive motion from him?

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1 A I mean, I can't answer that definitely

2 for him. It seemed like a reaction that, "I'm upset

3 that this child slapped me."

4 Q What did he do afterwards?

5 A I know he had went out the cafeteria for

6 a minute while I was cleaning up, then he came in

7 the kitchen as well.

8 Q So walk me through what you saw. How

9 many times did you see her strike him? Do you

10 remember?

11 A The child, twice.

12 Q So the child -- was the child near him?

13 Did she run up to him?

14 A She walked over. I think she kind of

15 walked through the other side of the cafeteria,

16 walked to the side where we were and walked over to

17 Mr. Lawson.

18 Q So she walked over to him and struck him

19 on the face?

20 A Correct.

21 Q How many times? Do you remember?

22 A I believe it was twice.

23 Q But you think she was horseplaying or she

24 was kind of joking around?

25 A I believe.

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1 Q What do you think her intent was? Was it

2 to like just walk up and hit this guy or just like,

3 "Hey, what's up" and just give him a little hit?

4 A I don't know why she felt that

5 comfortable with going to hit him. Like, the

6 following week, some people would say that, you

7 know, this is what she does, but that would happen

8 on campus. It had never been reported to me.

9 Q Okay. So maybe it was -- you don't think

10 there was anger involved on her end? You were

11 watching this. Right?

12 A With the child. But also, she had been

13 with us for a short period, you know. We're not

14 fully aware of their mental-health status sometimes

15 when they come. So we had minimal history on her.

16 Q Okay. And then he responded, you think,

17 out of reflex?

18 A I believe he could have been upset, you

19 know.

20 Q Did he storm out of the room immediately

21 after?

22 A No.

23 Q No? What did he do?

24 A He still kind of just was a little

25 relaxed.

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1 Q After he got hit a couple of times, he

2 was still relaxed?

3 A Yes.

4 Q Did he have anything else his hand?

5 A I believe he may have had a drink. I'm

6 not positively sure.

7 MS. HOSLER: Thank you.

8 EXAMINATION

9 BY MR. CANASI:

10 Q Can you please point to who you are in

11 there in that video, where you're at?

12 A (Indicating.)

13 Q That's you?

14 A Correct.

15 Q I don't mean any disrespect by this,

16 ma'am, but that person has Caucasian arms.

17 A Who? This person?

18 Q Yes, unless my vision is completely off.

19 MS. HOSLER: Can we replay the video?

20 MR. CANASI: Can you redo that video?

21 MS. CICHON: Have you seen the video

22 prior to today?

23 THE WITNESS: I don't know if I saw this.

24 Yes.

25 (Playing video.)

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1 BY MR. CANASI:

2 Q That's you --

3 A Correct.

4 Q -- right there walking up with the phone

5 in your hand?

6 A Correct.

7 MR. CANASI: That's the light reflection

8 there, I guess.

9 MS. BELL: So while we have this playing,

10 I've got a question.

11 EXAMINATION

12 BY MS. BELL:

13 Q In your career prior to this incident,

14 have you witnessed an adult hit a child --

15 A No.

16 Q -- in your profession? You've not

17 witnessed it?

18 A No.

19 Q But you are aware of the policies in

20 place on the steps to take when you do witness

21 abuse. Is that correct?

22 A Yes.

23 Q Did you follow those policies?

24 A I did call and report.

25 Q Immediately?

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1 A No, I didn't call it immediately.

2 Q So did you follow the policies?

3 A If that's what the policy says, no, I did

4 not.

5 Q What, if any, actions were taken against

6 you for not following this policy which is in place

7 or these policies that are in place to protect the

8 children?

9 A Yes, I was given a warning.

10 Q A warning?

11 A (Moves head up and down.)

12 Q Okay. Did you go to the Strawberry

13 Festival the next day?

14 A No.

15 Q Were you aware that Mr. Lawson was going

16 to the Strawberry Festival with the children the

17 next day?

18 A No, not at all.

19 Q In your transcript, Page 12, Line 9, you

20 say -- let me go back. I'm trying to figure out.

21 You asked someone to remove the child. Who did you

22 ask?

23 A Ms. Tate.

24 Q Can we go back to the video, and can you

25 show me where, at what point you're asking Ms. Tate

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1 to remove the child?

2 EXAMINATION

3 BY MS. HOSLER:

4 Q While you're at it, can you identify at

5 what point Ms. Tate tells you that she'll handle

6 this?

7 A She kind of just brushed past me and was

8 walking.

9 Q So she didn't actually say, "Hey, I'll

10 handle this." You just kind of assumed that's what

11 she was doing?

12 A No, I didn't assume.

13 EXAMINATION

14 BY MS. BELL:

15 Q That's not in your transcript. You don't

16 say anything about Ms. Tate saying she's going to

17 handle it in your transcript.

18 A And I told Mr. Duckworth, like I said, I

19 probably didn't remember everything, every detail in

20 that hour that he was interviewing me.

21 EXAMINATION

22 BY MS. HOSLER:

23 Q That's fine. But while you look at the

24 video, can you identify at what point she expressed

25 to you that she would handle this?

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1 A I guess -- like I said, she kind of

2 walked and brushed past me.

3 (Playing video.)

4 THE WITNESS: At that time.

5 BY MS. HOSLER:

6 Q She doesn't speak with you.

7 MS. BELL: Yeah, that doesn't look like

8 she interacts with you.

9 A No, because she was whispering and

10 walking right by me. If there was sound, then you

11 would be able to hear her.

12 EXAMINATION

13 BY MS. CICHON:

14 Q So when she passed by you right in that

15 moment, she said, "I'll take care of it"?

16 A Yes. She was kind of whispering because

17 she said she was going to talk to him.

18 MS. BELL: Can we rewind, please?

19 EXAMINATION

20 BY MS. BELL:

21 Q What I would like to see is what

22 direction you were facing when the slaps happened

23 and then your body language when you are, it

24 appears, clearly looking at Mr. -- so where are you

25 looking right there? I thought you heard the slap.

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1 MS. HOSLER: She said she witnessed it.

2 (Playing video.)

3 Q Now look. Watch your body language here.

4 You look at your phone.

5 A No. I'm not looking at my phone.

6 Q Then right there, you prop up on the

7 chair. So if you just witnessed a child being

8 abused by a senior staff member, that just seems --

9 that's not the reaction I would expect --

10 MS. HOSLER: From a person in a

11 leadership role.

12 BY MS. BELL:

13 Q And then you said that you asked Ms. Tate

14 to remove the child. So at what point did you ask

15 Ms. Tate to remove the child? I don't think I saw

16 that part. Also, you said that you go over and you

17 told the child to move away, the child was using

18 profane language. But the child is already gone.

19 A No. There was an incident that -- well,

20 it's not an incident, but there was some commotion

21 by the door afterwards, after this happened.

22 Q That's not what the testimony says,

23 though. That's not what the transcripts says.

24 A Well, today on this day, I can't tell

25 you, but I know under oath that something else

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1 happened at the door. There was some commotion

2 going on with that child again.

3 Q You also said that Ms. Tate said -- and I

4 quote -- in your ear that she would take care of it?

5 A She brushed past me, and she said it.

6 MS. BELL: Can we see that brush again?

7 Uh-huh.

8 Q So you thought Ms. Tate was going to take

9 care of it. Did Ms. Tate see the incident?

10 A Yes, she did. That was her reason for

11 going over trying to talk to him.

12 Q That's not what the transcript says. We

13 haven't heard from Ms. Tate, but that's not what the

14 transcript says. So did Ms. Tate tell you that she

15 saw it?

16 A Yes.

17 Q That's not in your transcript. You also

18 said that Mr. Lawson -- and this is on Page 13, Line

19 15 -- that he pushes the minor. And then you say

20 you don't have a clear view. So I'm watching right

21 here.

22 A He grabbed her arm, probably so he

23 wouldn't get slapped again, and pushed her off.

24 EXAMINATION

25 BY MS. HOSLER:

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1 Q What are you doing on your phone? I

2 mean, the light is on. It looks like maybe you were

3 just using it, like maybe you just sent a text or

4 you're waiting for a text.

5 A No. I never sent a text on that day.

6 Q Okay. I mean, the phone is lit up

7 like --

8 A It's possible I had pants on that didn't

9 have a pocket. I'm not sure

10 Q You've got the phone in your hand the

11 whole time. This child is getting hit and you're in

12 a caretaking role, you're so shocked by this

13 incident, but yet you're just hanging out with the

14 phone, the phone is so important to you. Meanwhile,

15 there's a company policy whereby you're not supposed

16 to have a phone while on duty. I'm having a hard

17 time with that, ma'am.

18 EXAMINATION

19 BY MS. BELL:

20 Q And also on Line 12: So I said -- and I

21 quote, the child needs to be removed. And she, Ms.

22 Tate, just kind of went back to the other side. At

23 what point -- I'd like to see where you're talking

24 to Ms. Tate in this video.

25 A If it's not near that camera, then you're

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1 not going to see it. I talked to her afterwards

2 also.

3 Q So a child is abused, so just probably

4 from me to you, that close, and you make no motion

5 like, "Oh, my gosh"?

6 A No, absolutely not.

7 Q As a matter of fact, you lean on the

8 chair and kind of move about with your phone. Ms.

9 Tate walks by. In your transcript you say she said

10 in your ear. She does not lean over to you.

11 A Okay. Well, if it's not directly in my

12 ear, I'm saying she did say something when she

13 walked past me.

14 MS. BELL: All right. Okay.

15 EXAMINATION

16 BY MS. HOSLER:

17 Q I'm also very surprised that, not only

18 are you paid caretakers of these children, you're

19 also adults and this thirteen-year-old girl is

20 struck in the face and there are three adults, at

21 least, that we can see on camera in the room and

22 nobody runs over to her. Why?

23 A In certain instances, depending upon the

24 child, if you create an uproar, so will the kids.

25 Q It's not an uproar. It's like, "Hey, are

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1 you okay?"

2 A No.

3 EXAMINATION

4 BY MS. BELL:

5 Q Isn't your policy to immediately

6 intervene, do the NAPPI stuff, separate the two?

7 You talk about how you said they need to be

8 separated.

9 A Yes.

10 Q Yet none of that happened?

11 A That's what Mr. Lawson should have done

12 so she wouldn't get close to his face.

13 Q If he was the aggressor, if he smacked

14 her, whose job was it to go over and say, "Mr.

15 Lawson, you need to step outside. Child, are you

16 okay?" Whose job was that?

17 A Well, I'm thinking with the staff near

18 him, that would be the appropriate thing to do.

19 Q I believe you're the closest one to him.

20 When the incident happens, Ms. Tate is not even in

21 the frame. Ms. Simmons is sitting at the end of the

22 bar and you're kind of right there in the middle of

23 the room?

24 A Right. And I see what's going on, again,

25 monitoring the children. And I would expect her as

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1 a staff also to go intervene.

2 Q But you don't expect the same from

3 yourself? Is that your testimony?

4 A No. I'm just saying that I would never

5 cause an uproar because that's what happens, all my

6 children will begin to get in an uproar and then the

7 whole environment will be chaos, not to say that I

8 shouldn't.

9 EXAMINATION

10 BY MS. HOSLER:

11 Q But then the three of you don't even get

12 together afterwards, the adults, and say, "Hey, did

13 you see that? We've got to do something, like what

14 should we do? Should we call that 1-900 number?

15 Should we call Rhonda?" Nobody has that discussion.

16 A No, we do not have a discussion.

17 Q You're paid employees. You're paid to

18 take care of these children.

19 A Cynthia and I went back to the cottage

20 with children, and that was not a discussion to have

21 around the children at the time.

22 Q Not around children, but not even after

23 the children go off. I'm just surprised. I get

24 what you're saying. I understand your perspective,

25 but I'm just surprised.

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1 EXAMINATION

2 BY MS. BELL:

3 Q Did you witness Mr. Lawson come into the

4 kitchen and speak with Ms. Simmons?

5 A No. When I was in the kitchen, he was in

6 the kitchen.

7 Q So you and Mr. Lawson were in the kitchen

8 but not with Ms. Simmons present. Is that right?

9 A No, I was in and out, I believe. I'm not

10 sure.

11 Q Were the three of you in the kitchen

12 together?

13 A I can't recall to this date. But I know

14 when I went in the kitchen to get things to

15 clean up, he was in the kitchen only for a few

16 minutes.

17 EXAMINATION

18 BY MS. HOSLER:

19 Q Could it be that you didn't see what you

20 think you saw?

21 A No.

22 MS. HOSLER: Okay.

23 EXAMINATION

24 BY MS. CICHON:

25 Q Can you describe the severity of the hit?

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1 So a Level 10 would be the most severe abuse of an

2 adult smacking a child across the face, and a

3 Level 1 would be no harm to a child. Where would

4 you rank the incident that you saw that night?

5 A I can't say what would be the severity

6 because everyone may think differently on how severe

7 something is.

8 Q You work with children.

9 A I'm sorry?

10 Q You work with children for a living. So

11 in your professional opinion, where would you rank

12 the incident?

13 A I will say her face moved, but it didn't

14 knock her to the ground.

15 Q Give me a number, 10 is the most the most

16 severe abuse you've ever seen, and 1 is minimal.

17 A I can't say that.

18 Q If a child was having a medical emergency

19 at that party -- so let's say a kid went into

20 cardiac arrest, dropped to the floor. Where would

21 you rank that? A 10 is severe, you have to take

22 action, and 1 is, they're perfectly healthy.

23 A We would probably go by what type of

24 symptoms the child has.

25 Q So they dropped to the floor, they need

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1 immediate medical attention. What level of severity

2 would you rank that?

3 A Depending if they're conscious or

4 unconscious, if they're epileptic. It's all, you

5 know, different.

6 Q What you would be the protocol from your

7 perspective if a child did collapse to the floor and

8 needed medical attention? What would be the

9 protocol with your peers?

10 A I know generally our staff, they may call

11 the nurse if they need to or they will call 911.

12 Q Do you believe the abuse was that severe

13 that a call should have been made either to a

14 superior or to an abuse hotline or to somebody to

15 notify them that there was a severe incident that

16 just happened tonight on shift?

17 A Correct.

18 Q So it should have happened, but no one

19 did it?

20 A Not until Monday.

21 MR. CANASI: Any other questions from any

22 other board members? Mr. Lawson, do you have

23 any more questions?

24 MR. LAWSON: No, sir.

25 MS. HOSLER: I do have one question of

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1 you, Mr. Lawson. On the video, are you able to

2 identify Ms. Veale? Is she, in fact, the woman

3 wearing the white T-shirt?

4 MR. LAWSON: Yes, ma'am.

5 MR. ZINOBER: Thank you for your

6 testimony. You can go back into the witness

7 room.

8 MR. CANASI: Can we let this woman go

9 home?

10 MS. GREEN: Yes. You're free.

11 MR. ZINOBER: You're released to go home.

12 Any more witnesses?

13 MS. GREEN: Beverly Waldron.

14 * * * * * * * * *

15 BEVERLY WALDRON,

16 having been duly sworn to tell the truth, the whole

17 truth, and nothing but the truth, was examined and

18 testified as follows:

19 DIRECT EXAMINATION

20 BY MS. GREEN:

21 Q Please state your full name and spell it

22 for the record.

23 A Beverly Waldron, B-e-v-e-r-l-y

24 W-a-l-d-r-o-n.

25 Q What is your title?

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1 A I'm director of human resources for the

2 departments under the county administrator.

3 Q How long have you worked for Hillsborough

4 County?

5 A It will be three on January 8th.

6 Q Because we're really tight on time,

7 please quickly describe your work history that's

8 relevant for the board members.

9 A I have 38 years of human resources

10 experience. I spent time with Louisiana State Civil

11 Service, then 31 years with Pinellas County merit

12 system and now with Hillsborough County.

13 Q Are you familiar with the disciplinary

14 matter which has led to this hearing regarding Tre

15 Lawson's dismissal?

16 A Yes, I am.

17 Q Did you sign this form dismissing Mr.

18 Lawson?

19 A Yes, I did.

20 Q Why was he dismissed?

21 A Because of the actions that he took in

22 striking or attempting to strike a child who was

23 under his care.

24 Q Please tell the board member what steps

25 you took to familiarize yourself with the matter

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1 prior to signing that form dismissing him.

2 A I reviewed the CS Form 5, the statement

3 of charges. I watched the video a number of times.

4 I discussed the matter with Carl Harness, who was

5 over this department.

6 Q How many times did you review the video?

7 A Probably 15 or 20.

8 Q Has Dan Duckworth worked for HR?

9 A Yes, he did.

10 Q Was there a completed investigation by

11 Mr. Duckworth available to you?

12 A I would assume so. I know that it was

13 handled by a couple of people.

14 Q But standing here today, you have no idea

15 whether or not there's a completed investigation

16 that you reviewed?

17 A No. I did not review his investigation.

18 As the discipline administrator, I try and keep

19 myself separate so that I do not become biased with

20 the things going on with the investigation. I

21 review the statement of charges, and if I need

22 additional information, I seek it.

23 Q Were you aware that Mr. Lawson had

24 previously been fired, appealed to the civil service

25 board and got his job back?

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1 A Yes. But I have no idea what the charges

2 were.

3 Q Has Mr. Duckworth been separated from

4 employment with the county?

5 A Yes, he has.

6 Q When did that happen and why?

7 A It happened, I believe, in early June,

8 I'm not sure of the exact date. I have 63

9 employees. Mr. Duckworth was hired as a partner. A

10 partner is a high-performing level.

11 We have both specialists and partners

12 within the talent management section. After Mr.

13 Duckworth was working for us for several months, we

14 discovered that his skillset fit better with the

15 specialist and not the partner.

16 Q So he didn't have the qualifications to

17 do the job?

18 A He did not have, and he was not

19 interested in moving down to the lower level.

20 Q The incident that led to Mr. Lawson's

21 dismissal happened on March 3rd. Is that correct?

22 A That is correct.

23 Q When was he dismissed?

24 A I signed it in July. I don't remember

25 the specific date, and I don't have the documents in

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1 front of me.

2 Q Why such a delay?

3 A Good question. I'm not sure. I know

4 that there was a delay in getting the report from

5 the state. I also know that we have put in place

6 tracking systems to prevent these types of delays in

7 the future.

8 Q Was Mr. Lawson provided with employment

9 and a paycheck during the pendency of that delay?

10 A Yes, he was.

11 Q Mr. Lawson says he didn't hit the child,

12 he flinched at her. Did you consider Mr. Lawson's

13 denial before you dismissed him?

14 A Yes, I did. I listened to the PDH, the

15 tape of his PDH. For me, swinging at the child

16 sends the same message to those the children and to

17 the staff the same as actually making contact. You

18 cannot perpetuate the violence or the attempt at

19 violence regardless of the provocation.

20 MS. GREEN: Nothing further.

21 CROSS-EXAMINATION

22 BY MR. LAWSON:

23 Q Ms. Waldron, when did you receive the

24 statement of charges? Do you recall?

25 A I believe it was three days. I received

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1 it when they were preparing your PDH and noticing

2 you.

3 Q My PDH was July 26th. So it was probably

4 a little bit before then?

5 A Yes, when they were scheduling your

6 appointment.

7 Q Okay. The case was closed by CPI April

8 26, the case was closed in April, but they're saying

9 they were waiting on a report from the state. Is

10 that a CPI report?

11 A Yes, it is.

12 Q And it took approximately three months

13 for you all to receive that report?

14 A My understanding was they were under the

15 impression that the state would forward the report

16 to them. They were unaware that they needed to

17 reach out to obtain the report.

18 Q They were unaware. Okay. When did Mr.

19 Duckworth resign again?

20 A I cannot tell you his last date of

21 employment without looking in Oracle.

22 Q You said it was in June?

23 A I believe that was his last date.

24 Q With the CPI investigation concluding in

25 April, that meant that his investigation was

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1 completed prior to him leaving. So do you know if

2 there was any follow-up with him about the case?

3 A No, sir, I do not.

4 MR. LAWSON: Okay. No further questions.

5 EXAMINATION

6 BY MS. HOSLER:

7 Q Ma'am, when the case was closed by CPI,

8 was your agency or office notified of the closure

9 immediately?

10 A Not to my knowledge.

11 Q How did you all become aware of the

12 closure?

13 A I believe they eventually reached out to

14 see what the status was.

15 Q At that time, were they informed of the

16 disposition?

17 A I have no idea.

18 Q Then they waited for three months for the

19 report to come to them. And then one day somebody

20 decided, "Oh, maybe we should call them again," and

21 they discovered that the report has to be requested.

22 Is that how it went?

23 I cannot -- I would have to ask my staff.

24 MS. HOSLER: Thank you.

25 EXAMINATION

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1 BY MS. BELL:

2 Q When Mr. Duckworth is doing interviews --

3 we heard the audio -- he introduces himself, says

4 the time, "This is recording," blah, blah, blah.

5 They go through the interview, and at the end, he

6 says, "At this time, I'm going to stop the

7 recording." Is it policy to stop the recording

8 without stating such during the interview?

9 A I'm sorry. I don't understand the

10 question.

11 Q So I'm Mr. Duckworth, I'm interviewing

12 you on the recorder. And during the process of the

13 interview, I stop the recording, I talk to you,

14 maybe ask you a question, maybe rephrase my question

15 and then start recording again. Is that the way --

16 A It's generally noted that, "I'm stopping

17 the recording," that, "I am restarting the

18 recording."

19 Q Would you be surprised to hear that we

20 just got testimony that Mr. Duckworth several times

21 during of the course of his interview with Ms. Veale

22 stopped and started the recording without any

23 indication either in the transcripts or in the

24 recording?

25 A Yes, I would.

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1 Q Yes, you would?

2 A That is not our practice, and that is not

3 the policy that our investigators are to use during

4 their interviews.

5 Q Speaking of policies, if this agency has

6 employees who blatantly disregard policies that put

7 children in harm's way or do not protect children,

8 what do you think the outcome of that would be?

9 What would be maybe the punishment?

10 A It would depend on the action.

11 Q How about inaction? So if the policy

12 clearly states in Exhibit 17 about abuse reporting

13 -- so you've got abuse reporting, you've got the

14 intervention techniques and so forth.

15 So if I'm one of your employees for this

16 agency and I do not follow the policy that protects

17 a child from being abused and I do not follow the

18 policy of reporting that abuse that's very clearly

19 spelled out in these policies, what might I expect

20 the repercussions to be on me as an employee?

21 A I would assume that discipline of some

22 form, from area of concern to written to suspension.

23 Q What's area of concern?

24 A It is a coaching and counseling. It is

25 documentation. It is the first step of discipline

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1 indicating that you have not performed appropriately

2 and it is documented.

3 Q We were told that coaching was provided

4 but that it was not documented. Would that be

5 against policy to not document that coaching?

6 A It was not documented in any way?

7 Q Apparently.

8 A It would depend. Some coaching is not

9 documented, it is strictly coaching. But if it was

10 an area of concern, it would be documented.

11 Q Interesting. I would assume that an

12 employee -- two employees who witness a child be

13 smacked across the face and not report, I would

14 assume that would be kind of an egregious violation.

15 A I would think that some form of

16 discipline would be taken with those employees.

17 EXAMINATION

18 BY MS. HOSLER:

19 Q Were you involved in disciplinary action

20 involving Ms. Veale and the other employee?

21 A No, ma'am. I take -- my action comes in

22 if someone is issued a CS Form 5.

23 Q That's when you step in?

24 A Yes.

25 Q Then outside of the issuance of a CS Form

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1 5, who is in charge of disciplinary action

2 otherwise?

3 A We have a division within our department

4 that handles discipline items.

5 Q You mentioned Mr. Lawson had previously

6 been terminated?

7 A No. I was asked a question as whether or

8 not if I knew he had been previously terminated.

9 Q Okay. You acknowledged having knowledge?

10 A Yes.

11 Q Do you think that plus the concern that a

12 child was struck played any part in his termination

13 this time around?

14 A I have no idea what he was charged with

15 before.

16 Q Uh-huh.

17 A The only reason I know he was charged

18 before is, we were doing research on the appeals

19 that have been before this board and the disposition

20 of those.

21 Q Go ahead.

22 A It had no part whatsoever in the

23 discipline that I rendered.

24 Q I understand. Did you make that

25 discovery after the termination this time around or

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1 before?

2 A What discovery?

3 Q That he had previously been charged.

4 A I discovered that approximately -- when

5 did we do the research? Probably in -- I'm having

6 to recollect, this will be a rough guesstimate. It

7 was when we were working on our budget presentation,

8 which would have been January or February.

9 Q So that was prior to this incident?

10 A Yes.

11 MS. HOSLER: Okay. Thank you.

12 MR. CANASI: Any other questions from any

13 other board members?

14 MR. ZINOBER: Is this witness excused?

15 MS. GREEN: How much time do I have?

16 MR. GUERRERO: 14 minutes, 24 seconds.

17 MS. GREEN: Yes.

18 MR. ZINOBER: Thank you, Ms. Waldron, you

19 may go home and go to sleep.

20 THE WITNESS: Thank you.

21 MR. CANASI: How about your other

22 witnesses?

23 MS. GREEN: They can be excused as well.

24 MR. ZINOBER: We have an official that

25 will bear that message?

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1 MS. GREEN: I have one more witness to

2 call, JoAnn Rollins.

3 MS. ZINOBER: Ms, Rollins, would you

4 spell your first name?

5 MS. ROLLINS: My first name is JoAnn,

6 J-o-A-n-n, last name Rollins, R-o-l-l-i-n-s.

7 MR. ZINOBER: Thank you, your witness.

8 (Mr. Guerrero administers oath.)

9 * * * * * * * * *

10 JOANN ROLLINS,

11 having been duly sworn to tell the truth, the whole

12 truth, and nothing but the truth, was examined and

13 testified as follows:

14 DIRECT EXAMINATION

15 BY MS. GREEN:

16 Q Were you present on the evening of March

17 3rd at Lake Mag?

18 A No, I was not.

19 Q How did you learn about Mr. Lawson's

20 conduct?

21 A It was reported to my me by Ms. Rhonda

22 Rhodes.

23 Q After you learned about his conduct, did

24 you eventually determine that some form of

25 disciplinary action was in order?

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1 A Yes. After I had them pull the video so

2 I could take a look at it, I did. I made a phone

3 call to Mr. Harness. I also made a phone call to

4 HR. I -- Ms. Rhodes and I discussed the situation.

5 I made the final determination that HR

6 should handle the case. I did not want the staff to

7 be involved in that particular process because I did

8 not want it to be conceived as we were biased, and

9 we already had a history with Mr. Lawson, and so I

10 wanted an objective group of individuals to come in

11 and interview the staff.

12 Q Did you have any concern about whether

13 CPI was biased?

14 A No concerns about CPI.

15 Q Did you consider Mr. Lawson's response to

16 the charges against him when you -- let me back up.

17 Did you make any recommendation

18 ultimately on what should happen with Mr. Lawson's

19 employment?

20 A I did. After speaking to all parties

21 involved, my supervisor, HR, our clinical person,

22 the mere fact that we're trying to establish a

23 therapeutic environment. And he's in a leadership

24 capacity, so he sets the tone and the pace as far as

25 what is expected on the campus.

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1 The reason you saw the confusion of the

2 staff is because he's a leader. He was in charge.

3 What do you do? Staff become fearful, children

4 become fearful, yes. And tonight you guys are going

5 to make a very important decision. You just have to

6 take it mind --

7 MR. ZINOBER: Ms. Rollins, you're there

8 to answer questions, not to make closing

9 argument.

10 A I'm sorry.

11 Q Did you consider Mr. Lawson's response to

12 the charges against him before you determined he

13 should be dismissed?

14 A There was some consideration, yes. I was

15 kind of hoping he would say, "It's on video, I did

16 it, I'm sorry. Can we work something out? I'll go

17 and get counseling. I'll go and talk to EAP." He

18 flat out denied it with witnesses viewing the video

19 and in the video viewing what happened.

20 MS. GREEN: Nothing further.

21 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson?

22 CROSS-EXAMINATION

23 BY MR. LAWSON:

24 Q Ms. Rollins, you said that you all passed

25 it down to HR to investigate the case. Correct?

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1 A That is correct.

2 Q HR, Mr. Duckworth, completed his

3 investigation, passed it on to Mr. Gregory, who, in

4 turn, eventually completed his investigation on

5 April 26 not substantiated, no interventions needed.

6 What steps did you take at that time after CPI

7 closed the case as not substantiated?

8 MS. GREEN: Objection. That question

9 included testimony that was inaccurate or not

10 in evidence. Do you want me to continue about

11 why I'm objecting?

12 MR. ZINOBER: I don't understand the

13 basis for your objection, so why don't you

14 explain it?

15 MS. GREEN: Sure. Mr. Lawson

16 inaccurately stated the evidence that's in the

17 record. He indicated that Mr. Duckworth

18 finished his investigation and gave it to CPI

19 Gregory, and that's not in evidence.

20 MS. BELL: It kind of looks like it.

21 MS. GREEN: They gave the investigation

22 to Gregory? No.

23 MS. BELL: Oh, not that he gave it to

24 him, that he completed it.

25 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, it's probably

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1 preferable to ask a question as to what this

2 witness knows or remembers instead of asking

3 leading questions that may misstate the record.

4 MR. LAWSON: Okay. Understood.

5 BY MR. LAWSON:

6 Q After you received the closed

7 investigation from CPI, what steps did you take?

8 A The actual report was available to our

9 agency on June 25th. I had to make some

10 arrangements because there are only two individuals

11 in our agency that can pick up the report. The

12 actions we took, we were waiting for the individual

13 to pick up the report and bring it to us, a member

14 from HR. We all sat down and read the report, and

15 at that point, we decided to move forward with the

16 disciplinary actions.

17 Q So I read the report which states that it

18 appears as if I struck the kid. It never gives a

19 definitive answer saying I did. What prompted you

20 to decide that we should go toward termination?

21 A What prompted me is that I'm fully aware

22 that there are different protocols and different

23 standards that need to be established by different

24 agencies. So, for instance, the CPI, his job is to

25 determine whether there are any injuries, and then

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1 he makes the decision whether abuse takes place.

2 As far as law enforcement, they determine

3 whether or not a criminal act has taken place. They

4 bowed out of that. They said no criminal act had

5 taken place. My role as the department director is

6 to determine whether or not we are providing the

7 proper, correct therapeutic care for the children.

8 So my criterion is totally different from

9 a CPI, our law enforcement, the attorneys' office,

10 the appeal board. My job is to ensure that those

11 children are safe and they're in a stable

12 environment. We have multiple policies on how to

13 care for children. Not my policies, experts have

14 written those policies, they're not mine. We have a

15 therapeutic approach. They're experts' therapeutic

16 approaches that we're using. There's nothing in any

17 textbook that says it's okay to strike a child.

18 There's nothing.

19 And if you strike a child, then the

20 question becomes, since you're a leader, "Can I

21 strike a child?" That's what the staff is going to

22 say, "Oh, well, he got away with it."

23 The children are going to say, "Am I safe

24 because Mr. Tre hits people and so, oh, now the

25 staff can hit people?" So I have to look at what's

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1 the best alternative for the environment that I am

2 supposed to be responsible for. I have to look at

3 my criteria, does the action or behavior violate

4 policy, procedure or the therapeutic model that we

5 are using.

6 My second question, the behavior is

7 harmful mentally, emotionally or physically to the

8 child, the staff or the campus community? And the

9 answer is yes, yes, yes. Children, staff and the

10 community. You had your favorite child, who was

11 going to fight the child. You had your staff, who

12 you are supervising --

13 Q Is that confirmed?

14 A It was part of this conversation.

15 Q I understand that there was a statement

16 that someone made. Was that confirmed?

17 A The staff said that they were in shock.

18 Q The same staff that had contradictory

19 statements?

20 A Absolutely. But you know what? They

21 didn't know what to do because you were in charge,

22 you were in charge.

23 Q Ms. Rollins --

24 A The last question, if I may. You asked

25 me what my consideration would be, what made me move

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1 to what -- my last question: Is there a plausible

2 explanation or justification for the behavior,

3 action or violation that can be explained to a

4 parent of a youth, to the Board of County

5 Commissioners and/or to the media. I don't have an

6 explanation for a staff slapping a child. And if it

7 were your children, would it be okay?

8 Q Understood. My next question, Ms.

9 Rollins --

10 A Yes.

11 Q -- you watched the video, we all watched

12 the video. You said I struck a child is perception.

13 How can you use your perception as a definitive

14 outcome or outlook of what happened?

15 A You're going to call it a perception.

16 I'm going to say what I saw on the video.

17 Q Which is a perception. Correct?

18 A It could be a perception, but it's not my

19 only perception. You have eyewitnesses and you have

20 a CPI that said the strike did occur. And let's say

21 this, sir. If the strike didn't occur, you made an

22 action that looks as though you were going to strike

23 her. Let's just say --

24 Q My hand never --

25 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, she really

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1 needs to be allowed to finish her answer.

2 MR. LAWSON: I apologize.

3 THE WITNESS: Let's just say you didn't

4 strike her, you didn't make contact. But on

5 the picture on the video, it appears that you

6 made an action, a movement toward her to do

7 something to her that would make her flinch.

8 Q Okay. You said if I would have came to

9 you and admitted it. Why would I admit? Why you

10 expect someone to admit something that they didn't

11 do?

12 A I can only tell you what I witnessed,

13 what I saw on the video and what I've experienced in

14 this court and the testimonies I've read. This

15 happened a little over seven months ago. What's

16 most definitive, sir, the video hasn't changed.

17 It doesn't show the whole cafeteria. It

18 doesn't show all of the action of the cafeteria, but

19 it shows you and your interactions with the young

20 lady. So I told you I had three questions that I

21 had to ask myself. If a parent had seen that video

22 and that child had gone home and said, "I got hit"

23 and I had to show that video to the parent, I don't

24 have an explanation for a parent to say, "You know,

25 we hit the kids all the time," you know, "They were

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1 just horseplaying."

2 You know our policies and procedures say

3 no horseplaying. Our policies and procedures say we

4 do no harm. We don't strike children. We don't

5 even pretend to strike them. We don't, we don't.

6 Q You said if a kid goes home and tells

7 their parents, "I was struck" and the parents see

8 this video --

9 A Um-hum.

10 Q -- this kid also told you that she has

11 not been slapped that night or any other night by

12 any staff?

13 A I know. But she did tell the guardian ad

14 litem that you slapped her.

15 Q I'm sure she --

16 A And she trusted her guardian ad litem. A

17 stranger, a police officer, I can see her not

18 repeating that to them because she didn't know them.

19 Q I understand, once again, your perception

20 is that I hit her. I didn't. But when you look at

21 the video, you may feel that you see something. You

22 said I made a motion. My hand never came up. You

23 just see a motion? How can you determine that it's

24 just what you think it is?

25 A The motion caused her to move away from

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1 whatever your motion was. If you didn't hit her,

2 she thought that you were going to. I have to make

3 the decision based on what's best for the campus as

4 a whole and what's best for the child. If she

5 thought she was going to be hit, she moved, she

6 moved. She moved completely out of the way.

7 If you didn't hit her, she still moved.

8 That caused me to believe that you struck her. From

9 what I can see on the video, in my opinion, you

10 struck her. That's what I saw on the video. And

11 everybody else has their opinion. I can only say

12 what I saw.

13 If I take everything away, the staff -- I

14 never questioned one staff person, never interviewed

15 them, never had a conversation with them, not even

16 with the children. If we do nothing else, the

17 guardian ad litem said she talked to that child and

18 that child said she was struck.

19 The CPI said he saw the video. He said

20 that the child was struck. You guys have a lot --

21 they have a lot to consider here. But as the

22 director of Children's Services, my role is to look

23 at the policies and procedures and see if we have

24 provided the proper care for this child from a

25 therapeutic environment -- for a therapeutic

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1 environment, using trauma-informed care, we didn't

2 do the right thing by this child, we just didn't, we

3 didn't.

4 And I don't have a plausible excuse. She

5 doesn't have a parent to advocate for her. But I

6 don't have an excuse to tell a parent. And if the

7 parent said, "It looked like he struck at her" --

8 MR. ZINOBER: Ms. Rollins, I think we're

9 stringing a long way off of the question.

10 THE WITNESS: Okay. The bottom line, I

11 saw what I saw. I considered the evidence and

12 the information. As the director, I have a

13 responsibility to the children and to ensure a

14 safe campus.

15 MR. LAWSON: No further questions.

16 THE WITNESS: Thank you.

17 EXAMINATION

18 BY MR. CANASI:

19 Q I think you're about the most credible

20 witness we've had tonight.

21 MS. HOSLER: Absolutely.

22 Q A couple of things. I believe that LG

23 did tell the CPI investigator that she was not hit.

24 A No.

25 Q Is that correct?

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1 A The CPI investigator? Yes, which would

2 be logical. He's a stranger.

3 Q I guess what I'm bothered by more than

4 anything is that, when you look at this video -- the

5 second most important, the second thing I'm most

6 bothered by, there was a clear eyewitness there that

7 was another child that was never questioned, was

8 never asked, nothing, clear eyewitness right there

9 front and center. Do we have any statements from

10 that child at all?

11 A If I may, we took the lead of HR. I

12 didn't want to be conceived or perceived as tainting

13 information or evidence, so we lead took the lead

14 with what HR decided to do. But the child in

15 question that witnessed everything, she's called

16 baby girl, that's the same child that wanted to

17 fight the child that hit him. So you wouldn't have

18 gotten a very objective testimony from her.

19 MS. BELL: With all due respect, ma'am, I

20 don't know that we got objective testimony from

21 a few folks.

22 THE WITNESS: Maybe. Okay.

23 BY MR. CANASI:

24 Q I will tell you, Ms. Rollins -- I'm

25 coming away from this hearing tonight, no matter

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1 what the outcome of this hearing is, I'm coming

2 away, once again, very troubled by what's going on

3 in that facility because you've got two employees

4 there that if I were in charge, they'd be fired,

5 walking around holding the phone, in lala land,

6 another one sitting there, doesn't even get up when

7 they think a child has been struck in the face. I'm

8 extremely bothered by that.

9 And I guess probably one of the things

10 that this board is struggling with is that are we

11 dealing with a scapegoat, you know. And those

12 cameras, I will tell you, are not very good. I

13 mean, the resolution is terrible. I happened to

14 think when I got up close and personal with that

15 video that there was a reflex, it was a reflex, you

16 know.

17 I mean, if I'm sitting and Ernie raises

18 his hand real quick like that, I'm going to, you

19 know, it's just a natural reaction. You know, there

20 are people that just don't like to be touched in the

21 face. I happen to be one of them. If somebody is

22 -- I'm going to -- whatever.

23 So I think that you have a much bigger

24 issue here than whether or not this gentleman struck

25 that child in the face. There's been erratic

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1 testimony from a couple of witnesses. We had the

2 CPI investigator here. Even when he saw the video,

3 he realized that one of the witnesses was not a

4 credible witness after he saw that video.

5 I mean, so far, the only thing that I can

6 find in my mind -- two things that I can find in my

7 mind that Mr. Lawson is guilty of is a perceived

8 reaction that he probably should not have done and

9 the fact that he turns his name tag around, okay,

10 which, by the way, that's not right.

11 So, you know, I would hope that -- and

12 if I have to have another visit and another

13 conversation with Mr. Harness since I am a neighbor

14 over there, I would hope that the shortcomings that

15 we saw in that individual tonight are addressed and

16 they are addressed very strongly because you have to

17 admit, ma'am, there's issues there.

18 A Yes. And there's issues there, and

19 there's a supervisor who's supervising, and he could

20 have said, "Put your cell phones away. I need you

21 all to pay attention to the children. You're not in

22 the areas of the particular places that you're

23 supposed to be to monitor the children."

24 MR. CANASI: I agree with you.

25 THE WITNESS: When the child walked up to

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1 her, he should have immediately -- as soon as

2 he got that first slap, he should have done

3 this and said, "No, no, no, no." He can put

4 her arms down, but he should have immediately

5 put her arms down, not flinch at her like he's

6 going to hit her too.

7 The chaos you saw is the chaos he was

8 supervising. That's what you saw. He was the

9 supervisor, he was the individual who was in

10 charge that night.

11 Q But unfortunately, he's not here tonight

12 charged with lack of supervision?

13 A Absolutely. But he's definitely here for

14 violating every policy there is as it relates to

15 caring for children in a therapeutic community.

16 EXAMINATION

17 BY MS. BELL:

18 Q Ma'am, are you the one that told Mr.

19 Gregory that Mr. Lawson would not be terminated?

20 A Mr. Gregory and I had two conversations.

21 And he's correct, I did say, "We're not going to

22 terminate him until we get your report." There are

23 multiple reports we have to get. Mr. Gregory's

24 report was the only report remaining. We didn't get

25 the report until June 25th of this year. And he's

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1 correct, I did say that. But I said, "We will not

2 terminate him until we get all of the reports, and

3 your report is the remaining report."

4 And I also spoke to another lady by the

5 name of Ms. Graham. It should be in your

6 transcripts. She was the CPI when this gentleman

7 was out on vacation. She and I had the exact same

8 conversation. You'll see it in the transcript.

9 Q Where are the kitchen recordings?

10 A The kitchen recordings?

11 Q Like the videos?

12 A Oh, my gosh. The campus probably has

13 about 150 cameras. You only saw one section of the

14 cafeteria. The cafeteria is a little bit larger

15 than what you think, and then there's a whole nother

16 kitchen and serving side completely.

17 I can tell you the videos -- if I may,

18 the videos originally would last maybe about 90

19 days, and after that it respins and starts a whole

20 new recording. Because HR handled the case, we

21 would not have known that we needed to pull the

22 information from the back of the kitchen unless they

23 had told us. We wouldn't have known because we

24 didn't take part in any of the interviews.

25 EXAMINATION

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1 BY MR. TRICHLER:

2 Q Did the CPI report play any role in your

3 decision to terminate Mr. Lawson?

4 A The CPI when he indicated that he did

5 slap the child, there was physical contact, yes.

6 Q Did you have any concerns about your

7 other staff members who -- no one called the

8 hotline?

9 A I have been working with my staff for

10 over five years about accountability. There's a

11 community and a culture there. It runs 365 days a

12 year. It never shuts down.

13 Q I'm aware, I used to work for Children's

14 Services, so I have a little bit of information

15 about it.

16 A Okay. So basically them freezing because

17 he was in charge makes sense. It's not the right

18 thing to do, but it makes sense.

19 Q But they left, they left, they went home.

20 A They did.

21 Q They were in their cars, they don't call

22 supervisors, they do nothing.

23 A But you're on a campus that you are

24 sensitized to what --

25 Q I'm just asking if it caused you any

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1 concern.

2 A It did, it did.

3 Q Good. That's what I was trying to get.

4 A But I wasn't surprised because I know

5 there's a culture that, you know, there are things

6 that are going on that I don't get to hear about

7 until it's third, fourth, fifth person.

8 But because he was in charge, I can see

9 the people who were under him like scared. I can

10 see that. It's not correct, but I can understand

11 it. And Ms. Veale did come and report it, but she

12 thought -- we do internal incident reports.

13 According to her, she thought that an internal

14 report was done.

15 If I may say, if you notice your

16 transcripts, the thought was to penalize the child

17 because the child had slapped him in his face. They

18 didn't know which way to go. They knew it needed to

19 be told, and they did tell it.

20 Q It's a training issue. Right?

21 A Absolutely -- it's not training. Can I

22 tell you what it is? It's character and morals.

23 That's the issue it is, character and morals.

24 That's what the issue is.

25 EXAMINATION

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1 BY MS. BELL:

2 Q You've made a lot of allowances for the

3 folks we've listened to tonight

4 A No allowances.

5 Q It's kind of what it sounded like.

6 A He asked me was I concerned, I said yes.

7 MR. ZINOBER: We really need to have --

8 for the benefit of the transcript, if for no

9 other reason, we need to have one person

10 speaking at a time.

11 THE WITNESS: I'm sorry. He asked me if

12 I was concerned. I said yes. Am I surprised?

13 I've been working on the culture for five

14 years. I'm not surprised. But I'm grateful

15 that they did report it because I've been in

16 the system over 20-some-odd years. I remember

17 when they didn't report it.

18 BY MS. BELL:

19 Q You said earlier that your job is to

20 provide a safe and stable environment. If that's

21 your job, and we've witnessed all of this today and

22 you are not surprised at these actions, what does

23 that say to you?

24 A We're a work in progress. And I can tell

25 you what it says. I can tell you who we used to be

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1 if you would like to hear about us. We had over

2 800-and-some-odd incidents.

3 MR. ZINOBER: Ms. Rollins, we really

4 can't do a historical perspective.

5 THE WITNESS: Okay, okay. But I can tell

6 you we've improved tremendously.

7 MR. CANASI: I would have to concur with

8 that because, as I stated earlier, I was given

9 the nickel tour there and met with some very

10 good people. I don't think that what we saw on

11 that video tonight is indicative of the entire

12 organization there. But it's not good.

13 THE WITNESS: I agree.

14 MR. CANASI: It's not good.

15 THE WITNESS: I agree.

16 MR. CANASI: You know, when you mix --

17 when you get a bowl of ice cream and you pour a

18 lot of Castrol oil in it, it's still going to

19 taste like Castrol oil, and that's the issue

20 that we're having here, I think.

21 I think Ernie and I may be the only

22 people that were on this board when we had a

23 slew of hearings from people that were

24 terminated out of this facility. I vividly

25 remember one of them was terminated because she

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1 was having the girls give her pedicures. I

2 mean, it was crazy.

3 THE WITNESS: That's correct, on

4 Facebook.

5 MR. CANASI: I went postal on it, and I

6 was very concerned about what was going on over

7 there, especially because I live in the

8 neighborhood. I drive in front of that place

9 all the time, several times a week. It's on

10 the way to my son's house from my house. And

11 I'm concerned because my son is a neighbor

12 there too.

13 So, yes, I will tell you that it is a

14 work in progress. I will concur with Ms.

15 Rollins that it still needs work.

16 THE WITNESS: It does. But I want you

17 guys to keep in mind who was in charge that

18 night, please. And he had the authority to

19 change anything or make anybody do anything

20 that needed to be done that night.

21 MR. ZINOBER: Any additional board-member

22 comments or questions? All right, Ms. Rollins.

23 You can't go home because you're stuck here.

24 THE WITNESS: I know.

25 MR. ZINOBER: I assume that's your last

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1 witness?

2 MS. GREEN: You assumed correctly.

3 MR. ZINOBER: How much time does the

4 county have left?

5 MR. GUERRERO: 11 minutes, 38 seconds.

6 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, believe it or

7 not, this is now your case in chief. And I'm

8 assuming that you are going to make a statement

9 or a presentation.

10 MR. LAWSON: Correct.

11 MR. ZINOBER: And you need to be sworn.

12 You can make the statement either from the

13 podium or from where you are, but you need to

14 be sworn.

15 MR. LAWSON: I can make it from here.

16 MR. ZINOBER: Okay.

17 (Mr. Guerrero administers oath.)

18 MR. LAWSON: Today I'm here to defend

19 myself against an accusation I never wanted to

20 encounter, an accusation of child abuse. Never

21 would I ever have dreamed of being in such a

22 situation, but here I am.

23 Approximately 24 to 25 individuals in the

24 cafeteria, three interviewed by appointing

25 authority, five interviewed by CPI and law

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1 enforcement. Policy states that all employees

2 temporarily removed or relocated will be

3 presumed innocent pending the outcome of the

4 investigation.

5 Law enforcement closed the investigation

6 unfounded. CPI closed the case not

7 substantiated with no interventions needed.

8 But I'm here due to being dismissed with video

9 surveillance that does provide a definitive

10 action and regular speed is used against me.

11 The video shows sudden movements by the

12 child and I which was perceived as a slap.

13 Perception is not the deciding factor when

14 considering someone's livelihood. Once the

15 video was slowed down, it confirms my argument

16 that I did not slap the child, nor did I swing

17 at the child.

18 As mentioned earlier, Ms. Green said in

19 the preconference hearing that if the board

20 determines that I did not make contact with the

21 kid, the dismissal should still be upheld

22 because I swung at the kid. The video will

23 show in slow motion that that is not the case.

24 In addition, key eyewitness, Cynthia

25 Simmons, stated that she witnessed and heard a

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1 slap that wasn't in the youth's face, but now

2 she's saying it was. Because the youth -- she

3 said the youth would have had torn skin on her

4 face. In her words, she seen the whole thing.

5 But clearly she wasn't even looking in that

6 direction.

7 She also stated that I apologized to her

8 for losing my composure and hitting a youth and

9 that youth we're talking about inside the

10 cottage after the party and they even discussed

11 it with another staff. And if that was the

12 case, why would abuse not have been called at

13 that time? Because therefore I would have been

14 confirming that I abused the child, and it

15 would have been confirmed that the kids was

16 really bothered by what was going on.

17 But she made no efforts during this

18 event, during this incident to get out of her

19 seat for the alleged incident, nor did she

20 write a report, report what she supposedly

21 witnessed to abuse hotline or to her direct

22 supervisor.

23 We all have access to our direct

24 supervisors even if she'd go through the shift

25 leader and get her phone number from him.

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1 Eyewitness Michelle Veale stated that the sound

2 of the slap prompted her to turn around and

3 that's when she saw me slap the kid on her

4 cheek hard, then she slapped me.

5 Also Ms. Simmons says, "I can't believe

6 that." And she replied, "It's a problem." But

7 again, no effort was made by Ms. Veale to walk

8 in that direction or to report the alleged

9 abuse. She told CPI that the direct care staff

10 was supposed to write a report. But she also

11 told HR that she started the report but didn't

12 finish because it was supposed to be an

13 internal report.

14 She had her phone in her hand the whole

15 time. She could have text Ms. Rhonda. She

16 could have called her. She could have stepped

17 out because she was in ratio, but she did

18 neither. Nor did she report the alleged abuse

19 until Monday, which means all day Sunday, she

20 was able to relax, be by herself, and she still

21 decided not to call because there was no abuse.

22 So that's two mandated reporters that

23 claim they witnessed an abuse but not make

24 procedure or notifications. That's another 21

25 individuals the appointing authority would have

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1 interviewed to get a fair outcome.

2 The party continued after the alleged

3 incident, no interruption in the party. But

4 why not? Because the alleged incident never

5 occurred. If it would have been addressed

6 immediately, law enforcement could have came

7 out, could have interviewed everybody at that

8 time, but it didn't happen.

9 Ms. Rollins said that I was the

10 supervisor. I was supervising the shift. Ms.

11 Michelle Veale stated that we are peers, which

12 means I'm not her supervisor, we're on the same

13 level. She had her phone. She's a case

14 manager. She has communication with all the

15 case managers. She could have been free to

16 contact anybody at any time, but she didn't.

17 I went there. I did my job. I continued

18 doing my job. I never struck a child. Yes, I

19 flinched at the child. But flinching at a

20 child, it's a playful motion, it's not

21 horseplaying, it's playing. I flinch with my

22 kids. I play with my kids, that's what you do.

23 You want the kids to have normalcy. You want

24 to be on rapport with the kid.

25 If I would frightened this kid, hurt this

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1 kid or did anything, the kid would not have

2 stood by me for an extended period of time.

3 Ms. Michelle says Ms. Tate walked by her and

4 said she would handle it.

5 Ms. Michelle was facing the opposite

6 direction. Ms. Tate walked by and she spoke

7 with the kid next to her and continued through.

8 There was no abuse that occurred that night.

9 There were no rules that were broken that

10 night. There was no policies, no procedure,

11 nothing that was broken that night because

12 nothing occurred. It was a smooth night.

13 There was not any issues going on. The

14 kid was standing there. The kid was relaxed,

15 no reflex, no reaction to someone has been

16 slapped, someone that's fearful. And then the

17 guardian states that the kid told her that Mr.

18 Lawson slapped her. Everyone else that came in

19 advised you that the kids do not refer to me as

20 Mr. Lawson, not one child on that campus refers

21 to us by our last name. They call us Mr. Tre,

22 Ms. Rhonda, Ms. JoAnn, whoever it may be. They

23 use our first names.

24 I mentioned before, I turned my badge

25 around. Staff -- when I first started working

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1 there, staff started looking up people on the

2 Internet. If staff would do it, the kids would

3 it. You don't need the kids knowing where you

4 live. You don't need the kids knowing anything

5 personal about you. So I kept it so they

6 couldn't see it. So she wouldn't know my full

7 name, she wouldn't know my last name.

8 But at the end of the day, it's

9 heartbreaking that I have to sit in here and I

10 have to prove myself for something that I

11 didn't do. If I'm not wanted at Children's

12 Services, there's other agencies. They had me

13 at Pet Resources.

14 If you felt that you didn't want me

15 there, leave me at Pet Resources, I would still

16 be helpful there. But now you're affecting my

17 livelihood. I have five kids to take care of,

18 and I lost my job for something that I didn't

19 do. And now that it seems that I didn't do it,

20 it seems like now they're trying to justify

21 reasons that they could have terminated me.

22 That's not fair.

23 I didn't break any rules. I didn't

24 strike a kid, I didn't swing at the kid, a

25 flinching motion. We do that with our kids.

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1 We do that when you see normalcy. That's their

2 environment.

3 The kid wasn't traumatized, not that day,

4 not the day after. I was on the campus the

5 whole 24 hours after that. Nothing went wrong.

6 Prior to this event, nothing went wrong. But

7 once again, I'm in here and I have to plead a

8 case and try to get a job back.

9 Yes, I love working for kids, but if they

10 don't want me there, don't take my job, don't

11 take my livelihood. The county has so many

12 departments, allow me to go to another

13 department. Don't ruin who I am. Don't ruin

14 my life because you may have some personal

15 issues or personal reason that you don't want

16 me there.

17 The facts state that I did nothing wrong.

18 Perception isn't everything. The kid told you

19 I didn't do it. I told you I didn't do it.

20 Staff say they saw it. But when you look at

21 the video, they're not even paying attention,

22 but their word is blind to mine. I'm a liar?

23 I don't get it.

24 Once again, I did nothing wrong, and I'm

25 hoping that you all saw that yourselves. And I

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1 hope we can work something out, whether it be

2 me going to a different department since it's

3 clear that I'm not wanted at Children's

4 Services, or something to continue my life and

5 do what I have to do for my kids and myself.

6 MR. CANASI: Thank you, Mr. Lawson.

7 MR. ZINOBER: I think we have an

8 opportunity for cross-examination.

9 MS. GREEN: I decline.

10 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, do you have any

11 witnesses to call?

12 MR. LAWSON: Are the witnesses still over

13 there? Is everyone gone?

14 MS. GREEN: Yes, they're gone.

15 MR. LAWSON: My witness was dismissed.

16 MR. ZINOBER: Did you have them under

17 subpoena?

18 Mr. LAWSON: Yes, sir.

19 MR. CANASI: Who was your witness?

20 MR. LAWSON: Trenesia Strong.

21 MS. BELL: What?

22 MS. HOSLER: Why was she dismissed?

23 MS. BELL: You had a witness, and they've

24 been dismissed?

25 MR. LAWSON: Ms. Alma said everyone was

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1 dismissed.

2 MR. ZINOBER: Why were they dismissed?

3 MS. ALMA: We indicated that the county's

4 witnesses were dismissed, but there is no one

5 left in the witness room.

6 MS. BELL: You just can't win, bud, you

7 just can't win.

8 MR. ZINOBER: That is a problem.

9 MR. TRICHLER: That's a big problem.

10 MS. GREEN: Can I ask a question? When I

11 learned that Mr. Lawson subpoenaed Ms. Strong,

12 I offered to make sure she got the subpoena

13 and, of course, wanted to know, hey, were you

14 there that night, do you know anything about

15 the case. I'm not sure why Mr. Lawson would be

16 calling Ms. Strong.

17 MR. ZINOBER: Well, that's really not the

18 issue.

19 MS. GREEN: Well, what if it's just for

20 character evidence, that doesn't matter?

21 MS. HOSLER: So --

22 MS. GREEN: Isn't that what you said in

23 the prehearing conference, that we don't take

24 character evidence?

25 MR. ZINOBER: You know, Ms. Green, I

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1 think it would be highly improper for you to

2 speculatively proffer what you think Mr. Lawson

3 might want to ask his witness before he puts

4 her on the stand.

5 MS. GREEN: Well, can we ask him?

6 MR. ZINOBER: No, because he had a

7 witness under subpoena. Was she here?

8 MS. GREEN: She was here. She did

9 appear.

10 MR. ZINOBER: Why was she dismissed?

11 MS. ALMA: We indicated that the county's

12 witnesses were dismissed, they could go home,

13 and she must have misunderstood and that that

14 included her.

15 MR. ZINOBER: Was she the only witness

16 you had, Mr. Lawson, under subpoena?

17 MR. LAWSON: Yes, sir.

18 MS. HOSLER: Can we call her at 1 a.m.?

19 MS. BELL: This is a train wreck.

20 MR. CANASI: Was she here to be a

21 character witness for you, sir?

22 MR. LAWSON: Not a character witness.

23 She was a shift leader the following day, and

24 normally they're briefed on all issues and

25 incidents that occurred on the shift prior to

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1 them coming in.

2 MS. BELL: Was anything about this

3 mentioned to her?

4 MR. LAWSON: No, there wasn't.

5 MS. BELL: That would have been a really

6 good witness to hear from.

7 MS. GREEN: Absolutely. The witness

8 needs to be heard from, I agree.

9 MR. ZINOBER: Well, then it seems to me

10 that the board needs to decide whether to

11 continue this hearing and set it for another

12 day when this witness can appear. I don't see

13 any other alternative. It's not a character

14 witness. She should not have been permitted to

15 walk out.

16 MR. TRICHLER: I would say if Mr. Lawson

17 wants to do that. I would support him 100

18 percent. It's your right if you want to do

19 that.

20 MR. LAWSON: I would prefer to because

21 she was my only witness.

22 MS. GREEN: Do you want us to try and

23 locate her by cell phone and see if she's in a

24 position to come back if she's gone?

25 MR. ZINOBER: We can try it.

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1 MS. HOSLER: Do you have her phone

2 number, Mr. Lawson?

3 MR. LAWSON: Yes, ma'am.

4 (Discussion off the record.)

5 MR. CANASI: Roll call.

6 MR. GUERRERO: Canasi?

7 MR. CANASI: Here.

8 MR. GUERRERO: Trichler?

9 MR. TRICHLER: Here.

10 MR. GUERRERO: Bell?

11 MS. BELL: Here.

12 MR. GUERRERO: Carbaugh?

13 MR. CARBAUGH: Here.

14 MR. GUERRERO: Cichon?

15 MS. CICHON: Here.

16 MR. GUERRERO: Hosler?

17 MS. HOSLER: Here.

18 MR. GUERRERO: Strepina? Thank you. You

19 have a quorum.

20 MR. CANASI: Mr. Lawson, do you want to

21 call your witness, please?

22 MR. ZINOBER: You've been sworn in?

23 MS. STRONG: I have.

24 MR. ZINOBER: Would you spell your name

25 for the record?

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1 MS. STRONG: Trenesia Strong,

2 T-r-e-n-e-s-i-a Strong, S-t-r-o-n-g.

3 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, you can

4 proceed.

5 MR. CANASI: First of all, thank you very

6 much for coming back.

7 THE WITNESS: You're welcome.

8 * * * * * * * * *

9 TRENESIA STRONG,

10 having been duly sworn to tell the truth, the whole

11 truth, and nothing but the truth, was examined and

12 testified as follows:

13 DIRECT EXAMINATION

14 BY MR. LAWSON:

15 Q Ms. Strong, do you recall working on

16 March 4th, 2018?

17 A March 4th would have been the Sunday?

18 Q Sunday, correct.

19 A Yes, I worked that Sunday.

20 Q Do you remember what shift you worked?

21 A Yes, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

22 Q On that day within your 12 hours, what

23 was the campus like?

24 A That was the day that the kids went to

25 the fair, so we were preparing for an activity.

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1 Q Strawberry Festival?

2 A Strawberry Festival, yes.

3 Q That particular date, prior to staff

4 leaving from the night shift, when you were briefed,

5 were you briefed about anything along the lines of

6 me possibly striking a kid?

7 A No.

8 Q From the shift leader or from any of the

9 staff?

10 A No.

11 Q Throughout the shift, did you hear any of

12 the kids remaining on campus talking about me

13 striking a kid?

14 A No.

15 Q When did you become aware of the

16 allegations?

17 A I don't remember exactly when I was aware

18 of that allegation. The first allegation was that a

19 child slapped Mr. Lawson. It was -- I don't know if

20 it was days later that I was told that she slapped

21 him and then he slapped her.

22 Q Okay. So it was changing shifts, the

23 night shift was leaving when you were coming in.

24 You said that no one approached you and told you

25 anything, "Watch out for this because this may be

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1 happening" or --

2 A No.

3 Q -- "Make sure Mr. Lawson is not around

4 this particular individual"?

5 A No.

6 Q We had a witness earlier that stated

7 something, but I'm going to ask you a question about

8 it first before I elaborate on it. You're shift

9 leader. What are your roles as a shift leader?

10 A I manage the daily activities for the

11 youth and communicate with the community, parents,

12 and case managers throughout the shift.

13 Q Do you ever do intakes?

14 A Yes, intakes, discharges.

15 Q RGC intakes. How often do the kids come

16 in that's -- coming from RGC, how often do they

17 refuse placement at Lake Mag?

18 A They refuse often if they can't keep

19 their cell phone because they can't keep their cell

20 phones.

21 Q So that's mainly why they're refusing?

22 A Yes, um-hum.

23 Q Outside of the allegation you heard on

24 this occasion, have you ever witnessed or heard of

25 me striking a child?

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1 A No.

2 Q How long have you been working with me?

3 A Since you started, about three, four

4 years.

5 Q Three years.

6 A Three years.

7 Q So in the whole three years, you never

8 witnessed or heard of me strike a child?

9 A No.

10 Q Abuse a child in any manner?

11 A No.

12 MR. LAWSON: No further questions.

13 MS. GREEN: No cross.

14 MR. ZINOBER: No cross. Board members?

15 EXAMINATION

16 BY MS. BELL:

17 Q Is Mr. Lawson a child abuser?

18 A No.

19 Q Have you seen the video from the dining

20 facility?

21 A No.

22 Q Do the children in general like Mr.

23 Lawson?

24 A Yes.

25 Q Do the children in general like Ms.

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1 Michelle?

2 A Yes.

3 Q How about Ms. Simmons?

4 A Yes.

5 MS. BELL: That's it.

6 MR. TRICHLER: Question.

7 EXAMINATION

8 BY MR. TRICHLER:

9 Q The intake forms, can you kind of clarify

10 what an intake form is?

11 A Our intake process, just the interview

12 process for when we bring a child into the program,

13 their basic information, their guardian information.

14 And we give out handbooks for our program just

15 explaining how our program works. And the intake

16 process also includes -- the children come in with

17 yellow jackets, which has their history in it.

18 Q Have you ever come in on a -- the

19 incident happened on a Saturday. You came in on

20 Sunday?

21 A That Sunday.

22 Q Okay. Are there times that you come in

23 on the morning shift and other staff members say,

24 "Hey, this is what happened last night"?

25 A Yes. We're briefed before every shift.

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1 EXAMINATION

2 BY MS. BELL:

3 Q Do you recall who provided the brief

4 during that turnover in that morning, or is it kind

5 of collaborative, everybody?

6 A I can't remember exactly who briefed me.

7 I can't remember exactly who it was.

8 MS. BELL: That's all I've got.

9 EXAMINATION

10 BY MS. CICHON:

11 Q Do you have any reason to believe that

12 either peers of Mr. Lawson or any members of

13 leadership would not want him in his current role?

14 A No.

15 Q Can you tell us a little bit about your

16 observations of how the policies are upheld at work

17 specifically around reporting child abuse if you see

18 something happening?

19 A We're mandated reporters. So if we

20 witness or even if we witness it or if we're told of

21 abuse, we are to report it.

22 Q How often do you receive training on

23 proper technique responsibility?

24 A For abuse?

25 Q For reporting, following policy.

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1 A Well, we're trained often, a lot, but we

2 review the policies often and we're trained.

3 Q What do you think in your professional

4 opinion is an appropriate amount of time to call in

5 and report child abuse if you saw something?

6 A Right away.

7 Q Would there be any circumstance where the

8 next day or two days later would be acceptable from

9 your professional opinion?

10 A No.

11 MS. CICHON: No other questions.

12 MR. CANASI: Any other questions? Thank

13 you. We won't call you back. You're free to

14 go.

15 MS. GREEN: We're very sorry.

16 THE WITNESS: No problem.

17 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, do you have any

18 other witnesses?

19 MR. LAWSON: No, sir.

20 MR. ZINOBER: Then you rest your case?

21 MR. LAWSON: Yes, sir.

22 MR. ZINOBER: Are we ready for closing?

23 MS. GREEN: We are. Board members, as we

24 began this evening, I told you we were here

25 because an employee slapped a child. The

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1 evidence in the record confirms Mr. Lawson

2 slapped the child.

3 Michelle Veale testified she saw and

4 heard Mr. Lawson slap the child. Cynthia

5 Simmons testified she saw Mr. Lawson slap the

6 child. Ms. Veale testified Mr. Lawson appeared

7 shocked when he slapped the child and that it

8 seemed like a reaction, that he was upset that

9 the child had slapped him.

10 The video in evidence corroborates their

11 testimony. Ms. Simmons further testified that

12 Mr. Lawson sought her out twice the same night.

13 She testified that Mr. Lawson apologized for

14 hitting the child.

15 It's important to note that Ms. Veale

16 testified she heard Ms. Simmons say Mr. Lawson

17 apologized to Ms. Simmons. Ms. Simmons

18 testified that Mr. Lawson said it was a natural

19 reaction to slap someone back when he got

20 slapped.

21 When assessing witness credibility,

22 consider who had opportunity to see what was

23 happening. Ms. Veale testified she clearly saw

24 Mr. Lawson and the child from where they were

25 standing in the cafeteria that night. Ms.

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1 Simmons and Ms. Veale never wavered on whether

2 or not they saw Mr. Lawson slap the child.

3 They both committed in writing close in time to

4 the incident that Mr. Lawson slapped the child

5 after the child slapped Mr. Lawson.

6 Ginger Rockey-Johnson, who isn't even

7 employed by the county, testified that the

8 child told her Mr. Lawson slapped her. The

9 child was surprised by it, and the child ran

10 after that happened, which was how she dealt

11 with that type of trauma coming from a

12 background of being hit in the face with a

13 frying pan by her own mother.

14 Ms. Rockey-Johnson also testified that

15 other children in her care talked about the

16 fact that Mr. Lawson slapped a child and those

17 children did not want to be placed at Lake

18 Magdalene because of Mr. Lawson's behavior.

19 Ms. Rockey-Johnson, CPI Gregory, both of

20 them testified about the possible reasons the

21 child told her guardian ad litem Mr. Lawson

22 slapped her but she told CPI Gregory and law

23 enforcement, Mr. Lawson did not slap her.

24 You heard them testify it's common for a

25 child who's been abused, whose own mother hit

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1 her in the face with a frying pan, might later

2 say a caregiver did not hit her even if that

3 was not the truth.

4 According to Ms. Rockey-Johnson and Ms.

5 Rhodes, this child may have compartmentalized

6 what happened. Compared to what she's been

7 through, it's nothing. There could be fear.

8 There could be a desire to protect Mr. Lawson

9 to make sure she wouldn't lose any privilege

10 points. She may have been promised something.

11 Ms. Rockey-Johnson testified, "To keep this

12 quiet, you'll get your nails and your hair

13 done."

14 She may have felt intimidated by Mr.

15 Lawson, a person in power over her. There was

16 testimony about trying to get in good with

17 somebody to make sure you don't get hit. If

18 you're a child who's been removed from your

19 home because of abuse, it's a totally different

20 perspective than any of us, hopefully, have.

21 There's no evidence in the record to

22 suggest Ms. Simmons, Ms. Veale, Ms. Rockey-

23 Johnson, Ms. Rhodes or CPI Gregory had any

24 motive to misrepresent facts.

25 CPI Gregory assessed the facts and

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1 determined that Mr. Lawson hit the child but

2 did not cause injury, and that's why he closed

3 the case not substantiated.

4 If he had determined Mr. Lawson did not

5 hit the child, he testified he would have

6 closed the case with a different finding with

7 no indicators of abuse, but he didn't do that.

8 You heard CPI Gregory testify there were

9 indicators of abuse because of the video

10 evidence and the eyewitness accounts.

11 Additionally, Ms. Rhodes, Ms. Rollins testified

12 that Mr. Lawson failed to utilize NAPPI

13 prevention and de-escalation techniques on

14 March 3rd. He failed to stop the child from

15 horseplay, as he should have, right away.

16 He held on to a soda preventing him from

17 having hands free to properly block the child

18 or restrain her. He didn't ask other staff for

19 help. He lost his cool and took a swing at the

20 child and he slapped her back.

21 Along the way, were there are

22 inconsistencies in witness testimony?

23 Absolutely. Someone wrote in her statement the

24 party was on Saturday, March 4th, instead of

25 Saturday, March 3rd. Does that mean Mr. Lawson

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1 did not hit the child? Of course not.

2 If someone said Mr. Lawson hit the child

3 on the right cheek or shoulder instead of the

4 left as the video documented, does that mean

5 Mr. Lawson did not hit the child? Of course

6 not.

7 She strikes him once, twice, three times.

8 He hits back. And if he doesn't make contact,

9 you've got plenty of testimony to indicate that

10 the very act of raising the hand at that child

11 retraumatizes not only that child but every

12 other child in the room who's been abused

13 because that person is the highest person on

14 the campus at that time, the highest-ranked

15 person in charge of making sure that these

16 children are safe. And he's the one that

17 reaches out? Really? He's the one that

18 reaches out to hit a child?

19 Even if you conclude that he didn't hit,

20 the video is clear he took a swing at her.

21 That's not flinching, although he testified it

22 was. That's not putting hands up toward her.

23 He had a soda in one of his hands. That's

24 taking a swing at a thirteen-year-old child who

25 had been physically abused and who he was

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1 supposed to protect.

2 It's not about what Cynthia Simmons did

3 or did not do. It's not about what Michelle

4 Veale did or did not do. It's not about how

5 fast it was reported, although it should have

6 been. It's about his misconduct alone.

7 Mr. Lawson's behavior toward a child in

8 the county's care that night violated multiple

9 policies and rules, and I'm going to walk you

10 through them quickly.

11 He violated Civil Service Rule 11.2, Sub

12 1 and HR Policy 7.6, Sub 1 in multiple ways.

13 First, Children's Services prohibits staff from

14 hitting the children in their care. That is in

15 the record. It's record evidence in the joint

16 prehearing statement, the fact section,

17 Paragraph No. 10. So when he hit a child, he

18 violated 11.2, Sub 1 and HR Policy 7.6, Sub 1,

19 because that's a policy. That's a directive.

20 He violated Civil Service Rule 11.2, Sub

21 1 and HR Policy 7.6, Sub 1 in another way when

22 he failed to utilize the approved NAPPI

23 prevention and verbal de-escalation and

24 intervention techniques required by the

25 department and found at Exhibit No. 16.

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1 He held on to his soda preventing him

2 from having hands free to properly block the

3 child or restrain her. He didn't ask other

4 staff for help. He lost his cool and took a

5 swing at her and he slapped her back, all in

6 violation of the departmental policy found at

7 No. 16, approved intervention techniques.

8 He violated 11.2, Sub 1 and HR Policy

9 7.6, Sub 1. We're still on the same rules

10 because he violated them another way. By

11 violating HR Policy 7.5 at Exhibit No. 14, Mr.

12 Lawson hit the child or took a swing at her,

13 and that is conduct that brings discredit and

14 embarrassment to the county in violation of

15 7.5.

16 He also violated Civil Service Rules 11.2

17 and HR Policy 7.6, Sub 2 because what he did

18 was incompetent. It was gross neglect, which

19 violates 11.2, Sub 4 and HR Policy 7.6, Sub 4.

20 And he violated 11.2, Sub 13 and HR Policy 7.6,

21 Sub 13, because that's the epitome of an unsafe

22 act, hitting a child reaching out to hit a

23 child.

24 He also violated 11.2, Sub 6 and HR

25 Policy 7.6, Sub 5 and 6. Again, back to

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1 Subparagraph 10 of the fact section of the

2 joint prehearing statement which is in

3 evidence, and it indicates Children's Services

4 prohibits staff from hitting children. He

5 violated a lawful regulation, an order, a

6 direction by management, by supervision not to

7 hit a child in care.

8 Board members, Mr. Lawson also violated

9 Civil Service Rule 11.2, Sub 26 and HR Policy

10 7.6, Sub 26 when he hit or took a swing at that

11 child because those actions are prejudicial to

12 good order and detrimental to the interest of

13 Hillsborough County.

14 He also violated 11.2, 32 and 7.6, 32

15 because if any substantial cause was ever in

16 the best interest of the county, it would be

17 that we actually protect and keep safe the

18 children who are in the county's care because

19 they have been abused and neglected and that's

20 why they live at Lake Mag in the first place.

21 Board members, the evidence in this case

22 demonstrated Mr. Lawson slapped a child. He

23 slapped her in front of other children. He

24 slapped her in front of other staff members.

25 He did it despite the presence of surveillance

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1 cameras, and he admitted it when he apologized

2 to Cynthia Simmons. We ask that you uphold the

3 county's decision to dismiss Mr. Lawson. Thank

4 you.

5 MR. ZINOBER: Thank you, Ms. Green. Mr.

6 Lawson, you're entitled to make your closing

7 arguments now.

8 MR. LAWSON: That's kind of what I was

9 doing earlier. But Ms. Green just went down a

10 whole list of rules that I have broken, and I

11 completely disagree. Never have I ever struck

12 a child out on that campus or any other child.

13 I didn't break any rules. I didn't do

14 anything, no gross neglect, not failure to use

15 NAPPI. NAPPI wasn't needed because the kid was

16 playing. It's okay for a child to feel normal.

17 It's okay to play with a child. They're

18 children, they're going to play. I never

19 raised my hand. The video, like I said, is not

20 even clear.

21 When Mr. Canasi went up, he initially

22 thought that I struck the kid, and then I

23 advised him that that's not my hand, that's the

24 kid's hands going up. Then he looked at it

25 again and he saw that also. You don't see my

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1 hand coming toward this kid.

2 What I don't do is I don't abuse kids, I

3 don't hit kids. Never have, never will. I

4 don't even chastise my own kids. I came here,

5 I did my job. Regardless of how someone may

6 perceive or want to perceive something, it's

7 not true. Ms. Simmons said I apologized to

8 her. I didn't apologize to Ms. Simmons. Why

9 would I apologize for something that I didn't

10 do?

11 That's one thing that I'm never going to

12 do, I'm not going to go up to you and apologize

13 for something that I didn't do. And she says

14 Ms. Michelle was in there with her, but Ms.

15 Michelle's statement states that we were back

16 there and we leave out. She never says

17 anything about Ms. Simmons being back there.

18 But Ms. Simmons is saying Michelle was

19 back there and Michelle came to her and

20 confirmed it and I apologized, this, that and

21 the other. That's not the case. Like I said,

22 I never abused a kid. That's one thing I have

23 never done. That's one thing I never do.

24 Right now my livelihood is in jeopardy.

25 And if I would have struck the kid, I

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1 would have to accept what I did and accept my

2 consequence. But how can I accept a

3 consequence for something that I didn't do?

4 Regardless of what happens, you all are going

5 to make a decision of what you see fit, and I

6 have to respect that. But this is one thing

7 that I didn't do, and I put that on everything

8 that I love.

9 I did not strike this kid. I did not

10 swing at this kid. Like I don't get it. Like

11 I say, if you recall like I'm that detrimental

12 to Children's Services, although I didn't do

13 anything -- and the video, testimony and all of

14 that shows that I didn't do anything -- allow

15 me to go elsewhere. Do not ruin my life.

16 That's all I ask, do my not ruin my life. I

17 have nothing else to say.

18 MR. ZINOBER: Thank you, Mr. Lawson. Mr.

19 Chairman, it's time for deliberations and

20 voting.

21 MR. CANASI: I'm going to kick this off.

22 I made a couple of notes here on some things

23 that I have issues with. No. 1 is the video

24 resolution. That video resolution makes it

25 very inconclusive to come to a decision on

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1 whether or not there was a reflexive reaction

2 or whether there was a strike, it really does.

3 And, you know, you've got to prove beyond a

4 reasonable doubt. And I just don't think that

5 there's -- I think there's enough reasonable

6 doubt there.

7 Witness credibility. The two main

8 witnesses against Mr. Lawson, in my opinion,

9 have zero credibility, zero credibility, and

10 they have zero work ethic from what I saw in

11 that video too. LG denied to the CPI

12 investigator that she was ever struck by Mr.

13 Lawson, yet she gave the guardian ad litem a

14 different story, so there's an inconsistency

15 there. Again, proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

16 There's no consistency there.

17 MS. HOSLER: The standard is

18 preponderance of the evidence.

19 MR. CANASI: Yes. With that being said,

20 I don't think you're going to ever have any

21 usefulness at Lake Mag again. I don't think it

22 would be in your best interest to be there. I

23 don't think it would be in the county's best

24 interest for you to be there or in any position

25 with Children's Services, at least not now or

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1 in the foreseeable future.

2 I believe you, I do. I want you to know

3 that. I want to look at you straight eyeball

4 to eyeball and tell you I believe you, the same

5 way I would look at you if I didn't believe you

6 and I'd tell you I don't believe you, but I

7 believe you. I think that you did show lack of

8 leadership, but that's not why you're here. I

9 don't like the fact that you hid your name tag,

10 but that's not why you're here.

11 I think there is a win-win situation

12 here. I think that Children's Services can get

13 what they want by making sure that Mr. Lawson

14 is no longer employed with Children's Services,

15 and I think Mr. Lawson can get what he wants by

16 making sure that HR and the county places him

17 in another division within our county. I think

18 he deserves that.

19 I'm curious about one thing, Mr. Lawson,

20 your e-mail address, "changed man." Can you

21 explain that to me?

22 MR. LAWSON: I grew up poor. I grew up

23 in a poor area in western Palm Beach County.

24 Nobody had much hope for many of us kids coming

25 out of that area. I made it out. I graduated

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1 college. I'm actually a father to my kids. I

2 try to maintain a job, so I'm a lot different

3 than everyone else down there, so I am the

4 changed man from that area. I'm the one that's

5 making something out of myself.

6 MR. CANASI: That's why it's

7 "changedman561"? That's the area code down

8 there.

9 MR. LAWSON: Correct.

10 MR. CANASI: So my position on this is

11 pretty clear. I think that Ms. Rollins was the

12 most credible witness that we had in terms of

13 the county. I think she made some extremely

14 valid points. And if the decision here tonight

15 were simply to place him back at Lake Mag or

16 not place him back at Lake Mag, I would decide

17 not to place him back at Lake Mag, but that's

18 not the decision we have. The decision we have

19 to make is to keep him as an employee of

20 Hillsborough County. And based on that

21 decision, I am going to vote to overturn the

22 termination. That's going to be my position.

23 MS. BELL: Mr. Lawson, I also believe

24 you, and I second Mr. Canasi's sentiments, and

25 I will also be voting to overturn this

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1 termination.

2 MR. LAWSON: Thank you.

3 MR. TRICHLER: That would make three,

4 sir. And we see a lot of individuals come in

5 here. Many of them are unrepresented like

6 yourself. You've done a fabulous job of

7 representing yourself, sir.

8 MR. LAWSON: Thank you.

9 MS. CICHON: And I have to also agree

10 with the other three. Again, I think you've

11 represented yourself very well. I think there

12 are definite opportunities to improve on all

13 accounts from witnesses that we heard tonight

14 to leadership as well, as Mr. Canasi has

15 mentioned, but I think those are all things

16 that we can learn and grow from and that don't

17 define you or should warrant you losing your

18 job completely, so I will also be voting in

19 favor.

20 MR. LAWSON: Thank you.

21 MR. CARBAUGH: Mr. Lawson, I concur with

22 the rest. You've done a good job here, and I

23 think that the county -- you made a comment

24 earlier about how it sounds like they had it in

25 mind to get rid of you and they did whatever

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1 they could in hindsight to make it happen, and

2 that's what it really looks like.

3 However -- and I'm struggling with this

4 because I want to kind of do exactly what the

5 other board members said. But the fact that

6 two witnesses, not one but two, said they saw

7 you, the fact that the video kind of looks like

8 you do -- you can't really say for sure, but it

9 sure looks like you at least swung at her, if

10 not hit her -- and the fact that the child

11 herself told her guardian that you did, that's

12 four.

13 I mean, if it was just one, one of those

14 four issues, okay, their word against yours.

15 But the fact that there's that many witnesses

16 and the video, I have to -- I'm going to end up

17 voting against the county for most of those

18 things that they claim you did, which you

19 didn't.

20 But in terms of probably not handling

21 yourself correctly at that instant, which is

22 11.2 Rule (1), I'm going to have to say that I

23 agree with the county. And the really

24 frustrating aspect of this type of a hearing is

25 that they could charge you with 12 different

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1 things -- and I don't know how many there are,

2 at least eight or nine -- and we could find you

3 innocent of all of them except one, and that's

4 all it takes. All it takes is one, and then we

5 have to side with the county. It's frustrating

6 it works that way, but that's the way the

7 process goes. So unlike the other board

8 members, I just can't get past that number of

9 witnesses.

10 MR. LAWSON: Understood. Thank you.

11 MR. TRICHLER: That would have been okay

12 with me until we had those witnesses. I've got

13 to tell you, I can't give any weight or

14 credibility to what those witnesses say,

15 especially with the tape and their prior

16 statements. I mean, it just --

17 MR. CANASI: A lot of contradiction.

18 MR. TRICHLER: Yes. I can't give any

19 weight or credibility to those witnesses who

20 say they saw it. You're looking at 11.2, so

21 that's why I've got zero issue with saying I'm

22 not giving them any credibility because I just

23 didn't believe them.

24 MS. HOSLER: I still struggle, I've got

25 to tell you, but I appreciate Ms. Rollins'

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1 testimony. I am in her camp. I understand her

2 mission. I get it. I think you're probably a

3 decent person, but I feel when you're entrusted

4 with somebody else's children, it's a different

5 standard. I am of the opinion you just don't

6 touch other people's kids whether you're a

7 babysitter, you're an aunt or you're a paid

8 employee. And that's where my problem is. You

9 touched this girl. I mean, I have a big

10 problem with that.

11 I echo everything Mr. Carbaugh said. I

12 hate to see this outcome. But the board can

13 find you violated one rule and it would lead to

14 the outcome that you don't want, and that's

15 probably the way, unfortunately, that I will be

16 voting tonight.

17 MR. LAWSON: Thank you.

18 MR. TRICHLER: We should probably go

19 through them one by one.

20 MR. CANASI: I want to commend County

21 Attorney Danielle Green. You, as always, do

22 your job thoroughly.

23 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Chairman, just a couple

24 of legal points, and I think they're important

25 to mention. One, I think one of the board

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1 members already mentioned; and that is, the

2 standard is preponderance of the evidence. And

3 because this is an appeal by Mr. Lawson, he has

4 to establish by a preponderance of the evidence

5 that the county did not have cause under each

6 of these policies and board rules.

7 The second point I think is equally as

8 important, and that is that the remedy for an

9 employee who prevails in an appeal is

10 reinstatement to his former position. It's not

11 just reinstatement to the county, it's

12 reinstatement to the position he held before.

13 That does not mean that an opportunity would

14 not exist to negotiate another solution. But I

15 think it's important to focus on what the law

16 and what the statute provides in the way of a

17 remedy, and that is reinstatement.

18 Reinstatement means place the employee back in

19 the position he would have been in had he never

20 been terminated.

21 MR. CANASI: Well, the bottom line is

22 that he's not at Children's Services now, and

23 our job is to determine whether or not he

24 should remain an employee. We'll leave it up

25 to HR where he goes. That's their issue.

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1 MS. HOSLER: I believe we have to vote on

2 whether he violated each of the rules set forth

3 on paper.

4 MR. CANASI: Yes.

5 MR. ZINOBER: Yes. I would suggest

6 dealing first with Rules, Board Rules Sub (2),

7 (4), (6), (13), (26) and (32). Once you

8 find --

9 MR. CANASI: Rules (2), (4), (6), (13),

10 (26) and (32)?

11 MR. ZINOBER: And then go back to (1).

12 MS. GREEN: I hate to slow your roll, but

13 I want to make sure that -- I wasn't sure if

14 Mr. Canasi fully understood the legal advice by

15 the comment that he made afterwards about what

16 the jurisdiction of the board is in terms of

17 what would happen after voting. Do you see

18 what I'm saying? Because he mentioned, "I'll

19 let HR make that decision." But HR really

20 doesn't have any leeway about where he goes.

21 MR. ZINOBER: And I think the fact is the

22 vote of the Board is self-executing. It

23 doesn't really matter whether the board members

24 have a fine-tuned understanding of what

25 equitable relief is under the statute, but he

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1 does have to be put back in the position he

2 would have been in had he never left his former

3 job, and that includes back pay, retroactive

4 benefits and reinstatement to his former

5 position.

6 MS. GREEN: At Lake Mag as RSC?

7 MR. ZINOBER: Yes.

8 MS. GREEN: Sorry to interrupt.

9 MR. TRICHLER: I'm going to make a motion

10 that the authority did not prevail on violation

11 of Rule 11.2, Sub (2).

12 MS. BELL: Second.

13 MR. TRICHLER: There was no violation of

14 11.2, Sub (2).

15 MR. ZINOBER: Member Carbaugh, you second

16 it?

17 MS. BELL: No, I second.

18 MR. ZINOBER: Oh, you did. Okay.

19 MR. CANASI: We have a motion and a

20 second. All in favor of the motion, signify by

21 saying aye. Any opposed?

22 MS. HOSLER: Nay.

23 MR. CANASI: Mr. Carbaugh, are you

24 opposed, or did you --

25 MR. CARBAUGH: No, I'm not.

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1 MR. ZINOBER: We have one opposed on that

2 one?

3 MS. GREEN: 5 to 1.

4 MR. TRICHLER: Right. I will make a

5 motion that there was no violation of Rule

6 11.2, Sub (4).

7 MS. BELL: Second.

8 MR. CANASI: We have a motion and a

9 second. All in favor of the motion signify by

10 saying aye.

11 MR. CANASI: Any opposed?

12 MS. HOSLER: Nay. I'm sorry. The motion

13 was no violation?

14 MR. CANASI: Correct. You're a nay on

15 that one?

16 MS. HOSLER: Yes.

17 MR. TRICHLER: I'll make a motion that

18 there was no violation of Rule 11.2, Sub (6).

19 MS. BELL: Second.

20 MR. CANASI: I have a motion and a

21 second. All in favor of the motion signify by

22 saying aye. Any opposed?

23 MS. HOSLER: Nay.

24 MR. TRICHLER: I make a motion no

25 violation of 11.2, Sub (13).

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1 MS. BELL: Second.

2 MR. CANASI: We have a motion and a

3 second. All in favor of the motion signify by

4 saying aye.

5 MR. CANASI: Any opposed?

6 MS. HOSLER: Nay.

7 MR. CARBAUGH: Nay.

8 MR. CANASI: How many nays do we have?

9 MS. HOSLER: Two.

10 MR. TRICHLER: I will keep this bus

11 rolling. I will make a motion there was no

12 violation of Rule 11.2, Sub (26).

13 MS. BELL: Second.

14 MR. CANASI: We have a motion and a

15 second. All in favor, signify by saying aye.

16 MR. CANASI: Any opposed?

17 MR. CARBAUGH: Nay.

18 MS. HOSLER: Nay.

19 MR. CANASI: Which one is this?

20 MS. BELL: (26).

21 MR. CANASI: What is that rule?

22 MR. TRICHLER: Exhibited actions or

23 conduct prejudicial to good order or

24 detrimental to the interest of Hillsborough

25 County.

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1 MR. ZINOBER: Who were the nos on that

2 one?

3 MR. CARBAUGH: Carbaugh.

4 MS. HOSLER: Hosler.

5 MR. CANASI: Remember, a tie prevails for

6 the county. Right?

7 MR. TRICHLER: I will make a motion,

8 there was no violation of Rule 11.2, Sub (32).

9 MS. BELL: Second.

10 MR. CANASI: All in favor, signify by

11 saying aye. Any opposed?

12 MS. HOSLER: I'm sorry. I have a

13 question. What does "substantiated cause"

14 mean? Can anybody answer that for question for

15 me?

16 MS. GREEN: I can't answer it. I just

17 want to know where you were.

18 MR. ZINOBER: What are you looking at?

19 MS. HOSLER: I'm sorry. Rule 11.2,

20 Subsection (32). It says any other properly,

21 quote, unquote, substantiated cause that is in

22 the best interest of Hillsborough County.

23 MR. ZINOBER: Well, substantiated would

24 simply mean it's been established by a

25 preponderance of the evidence. Cause would be

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1 -- it's just a catchall.

2 MS. HOSLER: Catchall, okay, in the best

3 interest of Hillsborough County. I would say

4 nay.

5 MR. CANASI: Everybody else was a yea.

6 Okay. I want to go back to 11.2 (26), and I'm

7 going to appeal to the three nays because you

8 understand that if that vote stands, the

9 appellate loses this entire case? Let me see

10 that rule again.

11 MR. TRICHLER: Exhibited actions or

12 conduct prejudicial to good order or

13 detrimental to the interest of Hillsborough

14 County. That's the rule.

15 MR. CANASI: Can we discuss that?

16 MS. HOSLER: Yes. Ms. Green?

17 MS. GREEN: He said no. Point of order,

18 I don't think it's appropriate. It goes

19 outside of Robert's Rules of Order. There was

20 a motion. There was a second. There was a

21 vote. I don't think you get to go back and

22 redo it.

23 MR. ZINOBER: Yes, you can. But one of

24 the people who voted no would have to move to

25 reconsider. And that's Robert's Rules.

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1 MR. CANASI: Can I hear a motion from one

2 of the people that voted no to reconsider? You

3 can still vote no again, but --

4 MS. CICHON: And open to reconsider if

5 you want to have a conversation around it.

6 MS. HOSLER: I'm sorry. I understand the

7 ramifications of what we are charged with, and

8 I understand a man's career will probably end

9 depending on the outcome of all of this. But I

10 also understand the agency's objective, Ms.

11 Rollins' mission.

12 These children are taken from abusive

13 backgrounds and they are entrusted to the

14 county. I don't think we should have paid

15 county employees, adults, horseplaying and

16 hitting these children. Just watching that

17 video is disturbing to me. And I also feel

18 when -- okay, fine, parents horseplay. I don't

19 agree with it personally.

20 But I believe when you're entrusted to

21 the care of somebody else's children, it's a

22 different standard, whether you're an aunt,

23 you're a babysitter, you're a paid employee.

24 And I feel that behavior was against the

25 mission of the agency. So therefore I see the

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1 exhibited actions or conduct prejudicial to the

2 good order and of the interest of Hillsborough

3 County.

4 MR. CARBAUGH: My thoughts are, Ms. Green

5 in her closing statement made the comment it's

6 really not about the hitting and if we were

7 focused on whether the witnesses were credible

8 about whether he actually hit her or not,

9 whether the video was credible whether he

10 actually hit her or not, then that might be an

11 issue, but it's not about whether he hit her or

12 not. It's about did he handle it correctly.

13 And it was clearly in violation of NAPPI

14 of how he should have handled that, and so

15 that's one point. Another one is, I put myself

16 in the position of Ms. Rollins. If the media

17 get ahold of that video or a parent of a child

18 that was at Lake Mag watched that video, they

19 would say, "Whoa, that is not where we want our

20 kids to be," and that is certainly detrimental

21 to Hillsborough County. So those are the kind

22 of reasons why I voted that Rule 26 was, in

23 fact, violated.

24 MR. TRICHLER: And I certainly respect

25 and appreciate both of your positions and

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1 certainly Ms. Rollins from her standpoint of

2 nothing more of a risk-management standpoint.

3 I get that she's got a job to do, she's the

4 head honcho. It's a tough decision, but I

5 understand her position.

6 But after sitting here for, you know,

7 six, seven, eight hours watching the video

8 numerous times, that's just inconclusive to me.

9 I don't think anyone in here can sit here and

10 say for sure, yes, he made contact with that

11 kid's face.

12 Now, if you can, great. I don't -- I

13 would have a hard time believing that and/or a

14 flinch motion. Could he have handled it

15 differently? Sure. But, my gosh, was that

16 something that was detrimental? You saw the

17 kid standing there talking to the guy.

18 The other little girl was standing right

19 there with him. It wasn't such a shock where

20 it was so loud, as the other witnesses

21 testified, that it left -- they could hear it

22 over the music, yet there was no scratches,

23 there was no redness. Everyone seemed okay

24 with it with watching this video.

25 When I first started watching this, I was

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1 like, "Oh, geez, this does not sound good." I

2 watched it, and I was like, "Let me watch that

3 again. Was this the incident we're talking

4 about here? Okay. I guess this was it. But

5 look at how everyone responded." That, to me,

6 is not an incident where you have something, a

7 bad situation. I don't --

8 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Chairman, if I could

9 interject something here, and I think it's

10 important to do this.

11 MR. CANASI: Sure.

12 MR. ZINOBER: And I certainly would not

13 mind if Ms. Green takes issue with what I have

14 to say. But I've reviewed the CS Form 5 twice

15 tonight. One thing I did not see in there,

16 despite the representations in the opening

17 statement, I saw nothing in there about the

18 concept of an assault as opposed to a battery,

19 nothing in there about raising one's hand in a

20 threatening gesture as opposed to slapping or a

21 hitting.

22 Furthermore, I see nothing whatsoever

23 about not complying with NAPPI. And that

24 concerns me because, you know, as we look down

25 the road to a potential review by a circuit

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1 court as to whether or not we observed

2 principles of due process, it seems to me that

3 if the board holds Mr. Lawson to a standard of

4 violating NAPPI when, in fact, the CS Form 5

5 doesn't mention NAPPI and doesn't say anything

6 about complying with those regulations, then I

7 think that we might find ourselves in

8 due-process problems.

9 And I will represent to the board that a

10 number of years ago, I think probably long

11 before Ms. Green started working for the county

12 attorney's office, where the CS Form 5 was not

13 broad enough to cover the allegations that the

14 county wanted to present at the hearing, they

15 went back and issued a new Form 5 and issued --

16 and held a new predisciplinary hearing and went

17 through the process a second time. But they

18 couldn't get a violation based upon an

19 inadequate Form 5. I think, if I read the Form

20 5 correctly, that NAPPI is not part of this

21 Form 5.

22 MS. BELL: I agree. And I would just say

23 as well, when we talk about what's detrimental

24 to the agency and to the children there, what's

25 detrimental is Ms. Michelle and Ms. Cynthia in

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1 my opinion.

2 MR. CANASI: Me too.

3 MS. BELL: Now, Mr. Lawson, like I said

4 before, I don't believe you hit the child. And

5 for those two woman to stand right there and

6 say that they watched you smack a child in the

7 face and they did not flinch, they rest on the

8 chair, they don't get up off their behinds,

9 that is detrimental to the county. And so it

10 could be argued, "Oh, did he hit her, did he

11 not hit her?" But what cannot be argued is the

12 inaction of those two employees and the fact

13 that we're not talking about their

14 representation of this agency and the county.

15 MR. ZINOBER: I think in fairness,

16 Ms. Green is probably going to take issue with

17 what I've just said.

18 MS. GREEN: I do. The word NAPPI, you're

19 right, is not in the four corners. However, if

20 you look at the end, Children's Services

21 Policy, Section 040702010623 entitled,

22 "Approved intervention techniques," which by

23 memory is Exhibit No. 16, but I might be wrong,

24 that policy is all about NAPPI. There's NAPPI

25 all over it.

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1 MS. BELL: Like I said earlier during

2 testimony, in everything I've learned from

3 reading this over the weekend -- so much fun --

4 if Mr. Lawson did not feel he was being

5 aggressed against, why would he need to

6 implement NAPPI?

7 Now, maybe the child shouldn't have

8 touched him. We're not sitting here talking

9 about how the baby girl is hugging him. We're

10 not talking about that touching.

11 MR. CANASI: Someone we never got to hear

12 from, by the way.

13 MS. BELL: Thank you.

14 MR. CANASI: You know, I can count on

15 this hand and have fingers left over in the two

16 different terms that I've served on this board

17 how many times we've overturned the county.

18 That was back from the early '90s when I was on

19 here and now for the last four or five years

20 that I've been on here.

21 MR. TRICHLER: Very rare.

22 MR. CANASI: And it's rare. And I've got

23 to tell you, if we send that man home for him

24 to tell his five kids that he's no longer got a

25 job with the county, I've got a hard time

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1 living with that.

2 MS. BELL: When we don't even believe the

3 witnesses.

4 MR. CANASI: We've got witnesses here,

5 two terrible witnesses.

6 MS. BELL: None of us believe the

7 witnesses.

8 MR. CANASI: They were terrible

9 witnesses. And I am not going to sit here and

10 allow this man to lose his job over a

11 technicality, vague little sentence that's in a

12 rule. I'm sorry. It's just not right. I feel

13 dirty about it. And I can only appeal to one

14 of the three of you to please reconsider your

15 vote.

16 MR. TRICHLER: It would be a different

17 story if one of those witnesses was in here and

18 heard testimony, matched the prior testimony

19 and matched the video.

20 MS. HOSLER: Ms. Rollins' testimony, I

21 think --

22 MS. BELL: She wasn't there, and it's her

23 staff.

24 MS. HOSLER: I know what I saw. I don't

25 think it's appropriate for adults to hit

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1 children. There's no way I'm ever going to

2 vote in favor of that ever.

3 MS. BELL: Me either.

4 MR. TRICHLER: Me neither.

5 MR. CANASI: I just don't think he did

6 that.

7 MS. HOSLER: And I also find it

8 disturbing that she -- I don't know why it

9 happened, but she just walked up and started

10 slapping him. Who does that? Seriously. So

11 has this happened before?

12 MR. CANASI: Children that are in this

13 kind of facility because they've got issues.

14 MS. HOSLER: Why did she feel privileged

15 to do this to this man? I understand she was

16 abused. But you just don't walk up and do

17 this. So has this happened before and she

18 did feel --

19 MR. CANASI: These are different kids,

20 Chandra. I mean, I've been there, and I can

21 tell you they've got uncontrollable impulses at

22 times.

23 MS. HOSLER: They do. But I still don't

24 think it's appropriate for somebody in a

25 care-taking role who is paid by the county to

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1 touch them. I don't believe children should be

2 touched by adults.

3 MS. CICHON: Where I'm struggling, I do

4 not want you to lose your job. I agree with

5 Mr. Canasi. I don't think the right place is

6 back where you were in that same position. But

7 I do think you've got skills that can be well

8 used elsewhere within the county to keep your

9 position.

10 Where I struggle is our responsibility to

11 your point earlier, there could be 15 things

12 and all it takes is one of them, right, to

13 uphold this. So I am struggling with applying

14 how the rule is written and determining, did

15 you or did you not do that. I could argue -- I

16 don't believe you hit the child. I do believe

17 you. I don't think that happened. I agree the

18 camera angle and the quality is garbage.

19 But do I also understand your perspective

20 that I have a leadership position to protect

21 the children, and God forbid that video got

22 out and the perception to the news, the media

23 or a parent, the detriment of the interest of

24 Hillsborough County, that line in Section 26 is

25 where I'm getting held up on.

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1 I don't want you to lose your job, I want

2 to you stay employed elsewhere. But if we are

3 upholding line by line what is written in here,

4 that's where I'm having a hard time right now.

5 MS. HOSLER: I would say if that was my

6 child, I would be -- it would be hell if that

7 was my child in the video.

8 MS. CICHON: But I think what we've

9 learned today is, you're not the only person at

10 fault for not upholding the policies and

11 procedures 100 percent of the time. Could I

12 argue to hold you to a higher standard because

13 you're in a leadership position? Yes. I can

14 see that perspective. There's staff. You're

15 in a leadership position.

16 But I also think the two testimonies that

17 we heard today, that we could arguably throw

18 out. They're also not following policies and

19 procedures and not being held accountable. So

20 I'm very much struggling with us being a

21 divided board to make a decision on --

22 MR. CANASI: It's hard enough that these

23 folks have to be there to monitor these

24 children and now you're asking somebody,

25 "Listen, besides monitoring all of these kids,

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1 you've got to monitor all of the people that

2 work here too?"

3 I mean, do your job. Don't stand around

4 there with a phone in your hand doing this,

5 another one sitting in a chair, another one --

6 I'm sorry.

7 MR. TRICHLER: Two in the back weren't

8 really even watching.

9 MR. CANASI: Listen, I've got three kids,

10 and I can sit here on a stack of bibles and

11 tell you I have never physically handled one of

12 my three child ever, ever.

13 MS. HOSLER: Lots of parents go through

14 life without physically handling their

15 children. That's not normal.

16 MR. CANASI: And I look at that video,

17 and I am telling you, in my heart what I see is

18 a reflexive reaction. I don't see someone

19 striking a child, especially when she's still

20 there talking to him, and that we never get to

21 hear from the child that stood right there and

22 saw the entire thing.

23 I'm sorry. We don't have a complete

24 picture of what really happened. And if that's

25 the case, then we should not keep this man from

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1 being able to feed his family. It's just the

2 way I feel about it.

3 MS. BELL: And I would appeal as well --

4 and I think you're in a slightly different

5 situation than the two of you are. I think the

6 two of you do not believe he struck the child.

7 I don't think that's necessarily the way you

8 feel.

9 So what I would appeal to you is:

10 Considering the credibility issues, considering

11 we're talking about this man's career and

12 livelihood, considering the way this agency

13 handled all of the other parties involved, I

14 would appeal to you to consider, while it might

15 not be perfectly in line with what we're

16 reading, that we should not burn his life down

17 over kind of a technicality. That would be my

18 appeal to you.

19 MS. CICHON: Let me ask this. So if one

20 of the three of us are to change our

21 perspective on No. 26 --

22 MR. TRICHLER: He is good to go.

23 MS. CICHON: To Ms. Green's perspective

24 earlier, help me understand. Is he guaranteed

25 reinstatement in his current position, or what

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1 flexibility do we have to say you are going to

2 keep your job with the county but you are not

3 going back to where you came from?

4 MS. HOSLER: He goes back to where he

5 comes from. It's an all or nothing, we don't

6 get to say.

7 MR. CANASI: Well, that's not necessarily

8 correct either.

9 MS. CICHON: Are we setting him up for

10 success to return back --

11 MR. CANASI: I am sure that if we vote to

12 reinstate him as a county employee and that he,

13 you know, goes back, that the minute this

14 happens, that there will be a meeting with

15 Children's Services telling him,

16 "Congratulations, you're reinstated, but we're

17 going to work with HR, you're going someplace

18 else." We all know that's going to happen.

19 MS. HOSLER: Is that going to happen?

20 How is that happening?

21 MS. CICHON: Has that happened before?

22 MR. CANASI: It has happened before. We

23 know it has happened before. Remember the

24 gentleman that we had here before? I forget

25 what his name is.

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1 MS. GREEN: They looked to me for an

2 answer.

3 MR. ZINOBER: You really can't --

4 MS. GREEN: I know. But you see them do

5 that, right? I'm not just jumping in for fun.

6 MS. CICHON: And my intent in asking

7 that question is to ensure we're not setting

8 him up for failure. Right? So if we're

9 changing how we're analyzing and applying, did

10 he or did he not impact the detriment of

11 Hillsborough County by his actions on the

12 video, whether we believe he did or didn't

13 strike a child, if we're upholding the Line No.

14 26 and we say, "Fine, we're going to reinstate

15 him," I would like to better understand that

16 there is or isn't flexibility that he stays

17 with the county and not directly back in his

18 position, because I do believe if that was the

19 only outcome, we are setting him up for failure

20 based on all of the testimony we've heard

21 today.

22 MR. ZINOBER: Let me say this. There's

23 always discretion that the county has in

24 negotiating with an appellant who prevails.

25 There's always that discretion. The board has

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1 no discretion. The board cannot mandate or

2 dictate what the county does.

3 MR. CANASI: And I would presume that Mr.

4 Lawson himself isn't going to go to the county

5 and say, "Let me stay where I'm at. I'm happy

6 there, I'm doing my job. Let me just stay

7 where I'm at." He's not going to go back to it

8 and -- I'm not saying that it's a toxic

9 environment. For him it's a toxic environment,

10 and he's not going to go back there.

11 MR. ZINOBER: Let me say this. Before

12 that ever happened, there are avenues of

13 review, judicial review, and we would have to

14 assume, as strongly as the views are held here,

15 that whoever is unsuccessful is likely to

16 appeal unless an accommodation can be worked

17 out. But it's not our role to prescribe what

18 the accommodation is. Yes?

19 MS. GREEN: I would just like to add,

20 Pete, that in the event that the order is that

21 no violations occurred, the order will require

22 the county to reinstate him back to his same

23 position, and if we don't, he can challenge

24 that order in court?

25 MR. ZINOBER: Yes, absolutely.

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1 MS. BELL: Mr. Lawson?

2 MR. LAWSON: And even if I'm fine with

3 negotiating and going elsewhere, even if it's

4 back to Pet Resources, would that be --

5 MR. ZINOBER: The board has a statute.

6 We operate within the scope of what our law

7 tells us we can do from a standpoint of a

8 remedy that we can prescribe if we rule in

9 favor of an appellant.

10 We simply have the ability to order that

11 he be put -- he or she be placed in the same

12 position he or she would have been in had the

13 termination not occurred, and then that's the

14 limit of what our authority is. What happens

15 thereafter really is up to the appellant and

16 the county to decide what to do. That's not

17 something we have any control over.

18 MS. BELL: If I could just do a

19 hypothetical. You're reinstated. Tomorrow

20 you're going to go back to work. Andrea, you

21 work in HR. Any way in hell you're going to

22 let that happen based on this situation if he's

23 one of your employees?

24 MS. CICHON: My employer might be

25 different than how this functions. However,

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1 given the background information, we would deem

2 it not to be a proper fit, that they would work

3 within certain parameters, 30, 60 or 90 days,

4 to find a new home. However, that's not a

5 guarantee.

6 MS. BELL: Absolutely.

7 MS. CICHON: Because any receiving

8 manager on any different business unit is going

9 to say, "Why did he work out there, and what

10 makes you think he's going to be successful

11 here?" And you are estimating a bit of an

12 uphill battle to make that placement given

13 this, just full transparency.

14 MR. CANASI: However, he does have

15 history in another department already that he

16 had been working at.

17 MS. CICHON: Right.

18 MS. BELL: If he were to be reinstated,

19 I'm thinking, I'm hypothesizing that whoever is

20 in charge, HR, talent management, whatever,

21 they're not going to say, "Congratulations.

22 You're reinstated, we're going to have you go

23 dig ditches, go get your boots."

24 They're going to talk to you, and they're

25 going to say, "Okay. Here we are. Let's talk

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1 and let's come to a mutual understanding," just

2 like you guys did with your joint going through

3 who said what and all of that. Can I guarantee

4 that that's going to happen? Can this board

5 guarantee that that's going to happen? No.

6 The rule is you go back to where you came from.

7 That's the rule.

8 But I don't think about anybody -- talk

9 about a detriment to the county. Let it get on

10 the news that there was this allegation, you

11 were reinstated and, just to get back at you,

12 they said, "We're going to put you right back

13 in there with those same kids." That's not

14 going to happen, I don't believe.

15 So I don't think he would be a risk, and

16 I am sure that the county has resources to make

17 sure that he is not put at a disadvantage and

18 that he's able to continue to be a productive

19 county employee.

20 MS. CICHON: I would imagine the

21 reinstatement, though, must state something

22 about equal or higher, right, or there's no

23 percentage of decrease that would come or job

24 responsibilities that he has to take?

25 MS. BELL: Yes.

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1 MS. HOSLER: So to be clear, he's being

2 reinstated to his former position with this

3 agency, not in a similar position within

4 Hillsborough County?

5 MR. CANASI: Right.

6 MS. BELL: Correct.

7 MS. HOSLER: Okay. Our plan is that once

8 he's reinstated, he'll apply for something else

9 somewhere else? I don't think we --

10 MS. BELL: We don't know and we don't

11 care. We don't know and we don't care. My

12 point is simply that while the rule is he will

13 be reinstated to where he came from at the

14 level he was and so forth --

15 MS. HOSLER: Yes.

16 MS. BELL: -- no HR in their right mind

17 is going to accept that without talking to Mr.

18 Lawson, saying, "Were you happy in Pet

19 Resources? What do you think about this

20 other?"

21 I believe -- and I work for the federal

22 government -- that he will say, "Hey, I saw

23 that there was a vacancy over on the

24 Hillsborough County Civil Service Board," or

25 whatever, and they're going to come to some

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336
1 kind of agreement.

2 MS. HOSLER: I don't think it works that

3 way. I'm a former county employee.

4 MS. BELL: I don't know if it will.

5 MS. HOSLER: Correct me, it's been a long

6 time. But, if I remember correctly, you have

7 to re-apply for every position. So if there

8 was a position open, say, with Pet Resources,

9 you would have to apply, you would have to

10 interview. No?

11 MS. BELL: I don't even care.

12 MS. CICHON: How does the transfer work,

13 then? Can you educate us so that we know what

14 we're talking about?

15 MS. GREEN: I think what's being

16 contemplated around the table is some sort of

17 negotiation process, which I don't think is

18 outside of the realm of possibility. The

19 concern is both parties have to reach a mutual

20 agreement to whatever it is for the employment

21 outside of the RSC position in Lake Mag.

22 And so that requires management to be

23 okay and find blah, blah, blah, which you

24 commented on. But it also requires the

25 employee to be okay. And if the employee is

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1 not okay with whatever it is and no agreement

2 is reached, ultimately his recourse is to sue

3 the county for failure to comply with your

4 order to reinstate him back as an RSC on

5 Children's Services campus.

6 MS. BELL: Mr. Lawson, do you understand

7 that if you are reinstated, you are going back

8 to the position you held on the night of March

9 3rd?

10 MR. LAWSON: I understand. I will be

11 requesting to go elsewhere, but I do

12 understand.

13 MS. BELL: Perfect. So you understand?

14 You understand that this board is not making

15 you any promises that we're going to find you

16 another job?

17 MR. LAWSON: Yes, ma'am.

18 MS. BELL: We hope that you find a job

19 that you are able to be successful at and you

20 are able to provide for your family, but we are

21 not making any promises?

22 MR. LAWSON: Yes. I know.

23 MS. BELL: And you understand that you

24 are going back to the same position you had on

25 March 3rd?

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1 MR. LAWSON: Yes.

2 MR. CANASI: Our work here tonight, if

3 you prevail, is that you are still employed

4 with the county. We just don't know and, quite

5 frankly, don't care where. It's between you

6 and HR.

7 MS. BELL: Don't care.

8 MR. LAWSON: Understood.

9 MR. CANASI: It would behoove you, of

10 course, to cooperate with HR and come to a

11 happy medium.

12 MR. LAWSON: I agree.

13 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Chairman, you may want

14 to call the question at this point on the

15 reasons -- there's been a motion for

16 reconsideration.

17 MR. CANASI: We've already voted on the

18 motion for reconsideration. Right?

19 MR. ZINOBER: So now we're reconsidering

20 the vote on Rule 11.2 (26).

21 MS. GREEN: Was there a motion on that?

22 MR. ZINOBER: Yes, there was.

23 MS. BELL: On the reconsideration, yes.

24 MS. GREEN: There was a motion to

25 reconsider, but there wasn't a motion to

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339
1 revote --

2 MR. CANASI: We had a motion and a

3 second. Let's vote to reconsider the previous

4 vote on 11.2(26).

5 MR. CARBAUGH: Before we actually make

6 another vote, one other comment -- and I agree

7 with the rest of the board. I'm very

8 frustrated that it took five months for this

9 process. I'm frustrated that the sheriff's

10 office and the CPI said no issues, the child

11 herself said no issues and, yet, somehow they

12 decided to dismiss this guy.

13 I'm frustrated that it wasn't just a

14 counseling, say, "Hey next time, put your hands

15 up. Don't swing at her," or don't whatever,

16 and none of this would have even happened, so

17 there's a lot of failures.

18 One of the biggest ones -- and I don't

19 think it's come up enough yet -- is CPI, which

20 has the highest level of credibility based on

21 what every witness has testified, they only

22 interviewed the witnesses that HR told them to

23 interview. And you would think that as a CPI

24 investigator, if you looked at that tape, you

25 would be able to pick out at least one, if not

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1 two or three other people, you go, "Yeah, I've

2 definitely got to interview that person."

3 MS. BELL: We wonder why he thinks

4 they're after him. We wonder why he thinks in

5 one of his statements that, "Hey, I kind of

6 feel like I'm targeted." No kidding.

7 MR. CANASI: That's another reason to

8 reconsider that vote. I mean, we heard the CPI

9 guy when he looked at that video. He himself

10 discredited one of the witnesses he interviewed

11 and realized that that girl that was standing

12 next to Mr. Lawson the whole time was -- and I

13 said it right there. "There's your eyewitness,

14 never interviewed."

15 Let's move on to the reconsideration on

16 the previous vote of 11.2(26). All in favor of

17 the reconsideration, signify by saying aye.

18 Any opposed?

19 MR. CARBAUGH: That's a revoting? We're

20 going to revote?

21 MR. CANASI: Now we're going to revote on

22 it. So now we're going to have to have a

23 motion.

24 MR. TRICHLER: I will make a motion that

25 the appointing authority did not prove a

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341
1 violation of Rule 11.2, Sub (26).

2 MS. BELL: Second.

3 MR. CANASI: We have a motion and a

4 second. All in favor of the motion, signify by

5 saying aye. Any opposed?

6 MS. HOSLER: Nay.

7 MR. CARBAUGH: Nay.

8 MR. CANASI: We have two nays.

9 MR. ZINOBER: And that would be Members

10 Carbaugh and Hosler. Correct?

11 MR. CANASI: That's correct, yes. So

12 let's go to 11.2(1). That's the catchall.

13 MR. TRICHLER: I make a motion that the

14 appointing authority did not prove a violation

15 of Rule 11.2, Sub (1).

16 MS. BELL: Second.

17 MR. CANASI: I have a motion and a

18 second. All in favor signify by saying aye.

19 Any opposed?

20 MR. CARBAUGH: Nay.

21 MR. CANASI: Hosler, did you vote?

22 MS. HOSLER: I was in favor.

23 MR. ZINOBER: So that would be Member

24 Carbaugh being the one nay.

25 MR. CANASI: Let's turn the sheet over.

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342
1 I need a motion on HR 7.5. Is that the

2 catchall?

3 MS. BELL: Yes.

4 MS. GREEN: Wait, wait. 7.5 isn't the

5 catchall. 7.5 a policy, it's in your exhibits.

6 MR. CANASI: A motion and a second on HR

7 7.5?

8 MR. TRICHLER: I will make a motion that

9 there was no violation of HR 7.5.

10 MS. BELL: Second.

11 MR. CANASI: We have a motion and a

12 second. All in favor signify by saying aye.

13 MR. CARBAUGH: I see Joint Exhibit 14,

14 Page 204, Joint Exhibit 14.

15 MR. TRICHLER: Page 204.

16 MR. CANASI: We have a motion and a

17 second. All in favor signify by saying aye.

18 Any opposed?

19 MR. CARBAUGH: Nay.

20 MS. HOSLER: Nay.

21 MR. CANASI: Two nays. Okay. HR 7.6

22 (1)?

23 MS. BELL: That was the catchall.

24 MR. TRICHLER: That's the catchall.

25 MR. CANASI: HR 7.6 (2).

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343
1 MR. TRICHLER: I will make a motion there

2 was no violation of HR 7.6, Sub (2).

3 MS. BELL: Second.

4 MR. CANASI: We have a motion and a

5 second. All in favor, signify by saying aye.

6 Any opposed? No oppositions?

7 MR. TRICHLER: I will make a motion there

8 was no violation of HR 7.6, Sub (4).

9 MS. BELL: Second.

10 MR. CANASI: I have a motion and a

11 second. All in favor signify by saying aye.

12 Any opposed? Unanimous.

13 MR. TRICHLER: I will make a motion there

14 was no violation of HR 7.6, Sub (5).

15 MS. BELL: Second.

16 MR. CANASI: I have a motion and a

17 second. All in favor signify by saying aye.

18 Any opposed?

19 MR. TRICHLER: I will make a motion there

20 was no violation of HR 7.6, Sub (6).

21 MS. BELL: Second.

22 MR. CANASI: I have a motion and a

23 second. All in favor signify by saying aye.

24 Any opposed?

25 MR. TRICHLER: I'll make a motion there

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1 was no violation of HR 7.6, Sub (13).

2 MS. BELL: Second.

3 MR. CANASI: I have a motion and a

4 second. All in favor, signify by saying aye.

5 Any opposed?

6 MS. HOSLER: Nay.

7 MR. CANASI: We've got one nay.

8 MR. TRICHLER: I will make a motion there

9 was no violation of HR 7.6, Sub (26).

10 MS. BELL: Second.

11 MR. CANASI: I have a motion and a

12 second. All in favor signify by saying aye.

13 Any opposed?

14 MR. CARBAUGH: Nay.

15 MS. CHANDLER: Nay.

16 MR. ZINOBER: Two nays.

17 MR. TRICHLER: I will make a motion there

18 was no violation of HR 7.6, Sub (32).

19 MS. BELL: Second.

20 MR. CANASI: I have a motion and a

21 second. All in favor signify by saying aye.

22 Any opposed? Unanimous.

23 MR. TRICHLER: The last one.

24 MR. CANASI: Catchall.

25 MR. TRICHLER: I will make a motion that

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1 there was no violation of HR 7.6, Sub (1).

2 MS. BELL: Second.

3 MR. CANASI: I have a motion and a

4 second. All in favor signify by saying aye.

5 Any opposed?

6 MR. CARBAUGH: Nay.

7 MS. HOSLER: Nay.

8 MR. CANASI: Two nays.

9 MR. ZINOBER: That would be Members

10 Carbaugh and Hosler.

11 MR. CANASI: Congratulations, Mr. Lawson.

12 You have prevailed. The board wishes you

13 godspeed and lots of luck, sir.

14 MR. LAWSON: Thank you all.

15 MR. ZINOBER: Mr. Lawson, just for your

16 information, procedurally my staff and I -- my

17 staff is sitting out there in the audience.

18 Ms. Askren and I will draft an order reflecting

19 the findings of fact and conclusions of law of

20 the board. We will circulate that among the

21 board members.

22 Once the board signs that order, then the

23 county has 30 days within which to appeal to

24 the circuit court. They still have the right

25 to appeal to the circuit court if they are not

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1 satisfied with this result or they can contact

2 you. But we are not involved in those

3 discussions.

4 MR. LAWSON: Understood.

5 MR. ZINOBER: So, you know, these things

6 rarely happen overnight. The first step is to

7 prepare the order.

8 MR. LAWSON: Okay.

9 MR. CANASI: The meeting is adjourned.

10 (Proceedings concluded at 2:10 a.m.)

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1 REPORTER'S CERTIFICATE

2

3 STATE OF FLORIDA:

4 COUNTY OF HILLSBOROUGH:

5

6 I, Sherry L. Frain, certify that I was

7 authorized to and did stenographically report the

8 foregoing proceedings and that the transcript is a

9 true and complete record of my stenographic notes.

10 I further certify that I am not a relative,

11 employee, attorney or counsel of any of the

12 parties, nor am I a relative or employee of any of

13 the parties' attorney or counsel connected with the

14 action, nor am I financially interested in the

15 action.

16 DATED November 6, 2018.

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

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 No menu assigned! Civil Service Board Act & Rules
Civil Service Board Rules
Download and view the PDF Rules document.

Civil Service Board Act
 Description
 Section 1. Supersedes Chapter 85-424, Laws of Florida
 Section 2. Statement of Policy
 Section 3. Short Title
 Section 4. Application
 Section 5. Definitions
 Section 6. Classes of Employees
 Section 7. Creation of Civil Service Board; Method of Conducting Business; Powers and Duties
 Section 8. Initial Employment Lists; Promotional Lists
 Section 9. Creation and Abolition of Positions; Filling Vacancies
 Section 10. Probationary Period; Tenure
 Section 11. Suspension; Demotion; Dismissal
 Section 12. Appeal Hearing Procedure
 Section 13. Administrative Office of the Courts; Hearing to Review Action of Dismissal, Demotion, or Suspension

 Section 14. Recommendation and Adoption of Classification and Pay Plans

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 Section 15. Appropriation for Civil Service
 Section 16. Creation of Review Committee; Transition
 Section 17. Fiscal Responsibility
 Section 18. Prohibited Activities
 Section 19. Restriction on Individual Qualifying for Public Political Office
 Section 20. Employee Advisory Committee
 Section 21. Violation of Act; Penalty
 Section 22. Recodification
 Section 23. Severability
 Section 24. Chapters 96-519, 97-342, 97-343, 97-349, 97-350, 98-450, 98-481, and 99-415, Laws of Florida, are
repealed.
 Section 25. This Act Shall Take Effect Upon Becoming A Law.
 House Bill 1649. 2000
 House Bill 1397. 2007
 House Bill 683. 2014

Description
2000-445

An act relating to Hillsborough County; consolidating, compiling, codifying, revising for the purposes of clarifying, and
streamlining the extant law; vesting standard business practices in law and removing gender-specific references; continuing
rights, privileges, and benefits accrued by certain employees; retaining membership in the classified service except under certain
circumstances, and amending chapter 96-519, Laws of Florida, as amended, relating to the Civil Service Act; providing a
statement of policy; providing a short title; providing mandatory and optional applicability of the act; providing, listing in a single
section, and adding definitions for purposes of clarification; describing classes of employees and specifying those to whom the
act is applicable; creating a civil service board and providing; listing in a single section, and adding powers and duties to vest in
law standard business practices of the district not previously enumerated and deleting the requirement that prospective employees
be ranked in accordance with relative qualifications; providing for the establishment and use of initial employment lists and
promotional lists and deleting the requirement that employment eligibility lists be canceled after six months; requiring that the
duration of employment eligibility lists be established by rule; providing for the creation and abolition of positions and the filling
of vacancies; providing for a probationary period and tenure; providing for the suspension, demotion, and dismissal of
employees; providing for an appeal hearing procedure; providing for disciplinary hearings for certain employees of the
administrative office of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit but paid from funds of the county; providing for recommendation and
adoption of classification and pay plans; providing an appropriation for the board; providing for a committee to review extant
rules; providing for fiscal responsibility; prohibiting certain activities; providing restrictions on individuals qualifying for elective
office; providing for an employee advisory committee; deleting the requirement that the board undergo regularly recurring
performance audits mandated by special act; providing criminal penalties for violation of the act; providing for future review of

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the act; providing severability; repealing chapters 96-519; 97-342, 97-343, 97-349, 97-350, 98-450, 98-481, and 99-415, Laws of
Florida, relating to the Civil Service Act and performance audits of the board; providing an effective date.

Be I t Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

Section 1.

This act supersedes Chapter 96-519, Laws of Florida, which establishes and provides for the Hillsborough County Civil Service
Act, and all acts amendatory or supplementary thereto, and constitutes a consolidation, compilation, and codification of all laws
expressly repealed by this act which pertain to the Hillsborough County Civil Service Act. This act guarantees continuance of all
rights, privileges, or benefits accrued by any classified employee as a result of employment prior to the effective date of this act.
Any position in the classified service as defined by Chapter 82-301, Laws of Florida, through September 30, 1985, and which
was occupied through that date, but which became exempt upon the effective date of chapter 85-424, Laws of Florida, may
remain in the classified service pursuant to the provisions of this act until the occurrence of any one of the following: request by
said person to be transferred to the exempt service; dismissal by the appointing authority; resignation; or retirement.

Section 2. Statement of Policy

It is the purpose of this act to establish a system for the formulation and implementation of procedures to ensure the uniform
administration of the classified service on the following merit principles:

1. Recruitment, selection, compensation, benefits, and advancement of employees on the basis of their relative job-related
ability, knowledge, skills, and personal capabilities, including open consideration of qualified applicants for initial
appointment.
2. Retention of employees on the basis of the adequacy of their performance, allowing for correction of inadequate
performance when possible and separation of employees whose inadequate performance has not been corrected.
3. Fair treatment of applicants and employees in all aspects of personnel administration without regard to age, sex, race,
religion, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, or disability except when specific sex, age, or physical
requirement is a bona fide occupational qualification.

Section 3. Short Title

This act may be cited as the “Civil Service Act of 2000.”

Section 4. Application

The provisions of this act apply to all classified personnel employed by the following agencies or authorities within the county:
the commission, county administrator, clerk of the circuit court, supervisor of elections, property appraiser, tax collector, sheriff,
environmental protection commission, aviation authority, port authority, planning commission, public transportation commission,
expressway authority, law library, legislative delegation, soil and water conservation district, civil service board, sports authority,

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children’s board, county attorney, arts council, victim assistance, and any other agency or authority not expressly exempt from
this act. Each municipality in the county, the judiciary, and the District School Board of the county are expressly exempt from
this act until and unless each executes an interlocal agreement with the Civil Service Board pursuant to general law. Positions
within the Administrative Office of the Courts which were classified as of January 1, 1998, and which are funded by the county,
are subject to section 13 of this act.

Section 5.

Definitions as used in this act:

1. “Appointing authority” means any person or agency authorized under this act or other statutory authority to employ
personnel to carry out the responsibilities of the agency.
2. “Appointment” means selection by an appointing authority of a certified eligible person to perform assigned duties and
responsibilities in a specified position in the classified service.
3. “Benefits plan” means a schedule of employment benefits to include all leave and holidays.
4. “Board” means the county Civil Service Board.
5. “Budget authority” means any agency or authority to which this act applies and which is empowered to develop and
adopt its budget without approval by any other agency or authority.
6. “Certification” means the process of providing the names of those eligible for a class of positions to be considered in
filling a vacancy.
7. “Certified employment list” means employment eligibility lists and promotion eligibility lists.
8. “Civil Service” means that part of the employment system within Hillsborough County to which this act is applicable
pursuant to section 4.
9. “Classified employee” means an employee whose position is subject to the rights contained in this act and in rules
adopted by the board.
10. “Class of positions / classifications” means all positions that are sufficiently similar as to kind or subject matter of
work, level of difficulty or responsibilities, and qualification requirements of the work to warrant the same treatment as
to title, pay range, and other personnel transactions.
11. “Classification plan” means a document that formally describes the concepts, rules, and class specifications used in the
classification and reclassification of positions in the classified service.
12. “Commission” means the board of county commissioners of the county.
13. “County” means Hillsborough County, Florida .
14. “Demotion” means moving an employee from a position in one class to a position in another class having a lesser
degree of responsibility and lower pay grade.
15. “Dismissal” means the discharge of an employee from the service by the appointing authority.
16. “Executive manager” means a position so designated by any appointing authority. The identifying characteristics of an
executive manager position are:
1. Having primary responsibility for the administration of a department or division that is major in scope in
terms of a countywide program except as may be limited by municipal programs.

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2. Being entrusted with developmental and confidential information and high level responsibility for:
1. Program research, development, implementation, and monitorship
2. Formulation of policies
3. Day-to-day operations, administration, and departmental or divisional decision making
17. “Exempt employee” which may be used interchangeably with an “unclassified employee” and means an employee
whose position is subject to any rights provided by the employee’s appointing authority and who is enumerated in
section 6(2).
18. “Grievance” means any dispute or disagreement between an employee and management involving wages, hours of
work, or conditions of employment.
19. “Initial probationary period” means a period of six months of conditional employment in the same position, which may
be extended for an additional six months during which time an employee may be dismissed without appeal to the
board.
20. “Leave” means absence of a classified employee from employment authorized by the appointing authority in
accordance with rules adopted by the board.
21. “Part-time employee” means an employee who works less than 50 percent of the normal work period.
22. “Pay plan” means a document containing one or more salary schedules.
23. “Promotion” means moving an employee from a position in one class to a position in another class having a greater
degree of responsibility and a higher pay grade.
24. “Reduction in force” means dismissal, for reasons including, but not limited to, shortage of funds, abolition of a
position, or material changes in job duties or organizational structure in accordance with rules adopted by the board.
25. “Reemployment” means appointment of a person who was dismissed due to reduction in force in accordance with rules
adopted by the board.
26. “Resignation” means that an employee voluntarily elects to terminate the employee’s employment.
27. “Salary schedule” means a document which is adopted by the annual budget process or which is established by a
collective bargaining or impasse procedure. Salary schedules must be adopted or established by any budget authority
for those employees whose positions it funds and who are subject to the terms of this act. A salary schedule must
include the salary range and a minimum and a maximum rate of pay and any intermediate points within a salary range.
28. “Substitute employee” means an employee who is temporarily employed to fill the position of a permanently employed
person who is on approved leave. A substitute employee may not fill any given position for a period exceeding 120
calendar days after the first day of appointment by the appointing authority.
29. “Suspension” means the removal of an employee from the service for a temporary period of time.
30. “Temporary employee” means an employee whose employment is not intended to exceed 120 calendar days after the
first day of appointment by the appointing authority.
31. “Tenure” means a status granted after successful completion of an initial probationary period, entitling the employee to
all rights and protections provided in this act.
32. “Transfer” means the change of an employee from one position to another position.

Section 6. Classes of Employees

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1. The employees of all agencies subject to this act are divided into the classified service and the exempt service.
2. The following classes of employment are exempt from the classified service and are subject to any rights provided by
their appointing authority. The exempt service includes:
1. All elected officials and those appointed by the governor.
2. Members of any board, authority, or commission.
3. Physicians and attorneys-at-law.
4. Executive managers.
5. Temporary, part-time, and substitute employees.
6. Secretaries of and administrative aides to the county attorney, the chief executive officer of any board,
authority, or commission, and each elected official.

Section 7. Creation of the Board; Method of Conducting Business; Pow ers & Duties

1. There is created in the county a board known as the Hillsborough County Civil Service Board. The board shall consist
of seven members who are qualified electors of the county; however, no person may be appointed to serve who is either
an elected official or an employee of any appointing authority. Each appointment, except one made to fill an unexpired
term, shall be for a period of four years. Each member shall continue to serve until the expiration of that member’s term
and until a successor has been appointed. The absence of a board member from more than 50 percent of the board’s
scheduled meetings during any calendar year constitutes his or her resignation. Upon death, resignation, or removal of
a member, a successor shall be appointed for the unexpired portion of that member’s term. All appointments shall be
made by the governor, subject to confirmation by the senate. Members shall serve without compensation, but, may be
reimbursed for certain expenses as provided in this act. The clerk of the circuit court shall serve as secretary ex officio
and is not entitled to any salary or additional compensation for that service.
2. The board shall:
1. Conduct the business of the district, including establishing an annual budget.
2. Encumber and expend the funds appropriated for the purposes of this act, utilizing the policies and practices
of the departments under the commission.
3. Adopt and amend rules for the uniform administration of this act following a minimum of 30 days’ notice of
the proposed rule to each appointing authority.
4. Meet at least once every two months to properly handle its business in accordance with the intent and
purposes of this act, which meetings shall be open to the public in accordance with general law.
5. Adopt written bylaws for its internal governance, including the election of a chair and vice chair, and written
standard operating procedures for its internal operations as may be required.
6. Employ, discipline, and terminate a director and such other personnel as necessary to carry out the purposes
of this act and within the scope of its budget. The director must meet the following minimum qualifications:
graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with completion of a major course of study in
business administration, public administration, psychology, or a related field; and at least five years of
progressively responsible personnel experience, including three years in a responsible supervisory position.

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The director should possess broad knowledge of all aspects of personnel management. The director shall
perform duties required by the board.
7. Employ, discipline, and terminate or contract for legal counsel as may be needed and within the scope of its
budget.
8. Offer its employees the same benefits, which must include a retirement plan and life and health insurance
plans and may include such other options as cafeteria-style health care provisions and one or more deferred
income plans, as the commission offers its employees and under the same terms and conditions as provided
by general law or policy of the commission.
9. Authorize any of is employees to attend conferences and travel on behalf of the board and reimburse those
employees for conference costs and travel and per diem expenses in accordance with general law.
10. Upon submission of appropriate documentation and upon request, reimburse any member of the board for per
diem and mileage in connection with the performance of his or her official duties and in accordance with
general law.
11. Deputize and designate, in any agency containing more than 500 classified positions, the person in charge of
personnel in that agency as the agent for the board who shall perform duties delegated by the board.
12. Ascertain and record the qualifications, duties, and responsibilities appertaining to all positions in the
classified service and classify such positions in accordance with the requirements contained in this act.
13. Recruit personnel for all classified positions, determine the qualifications of persons who seek employment in
any class or position, and, as a result, establish certified employment lists for the classes of positions.
14. Establish a system for evaluation of performance.
15. Adopt classification, benefit, and pay plans for classified positions as provided in this act.
16. Establish guidelines for leave without prior board approval for up to a period of 12 months. An extension
may be granted by the appointing authority only if said appointing authority certifies to the board before the
expiration of the initial period that the extension is not an avoidance of the duty to properly fill a classified
position.
17. Establish and maintain a roster of classified employees, including appointments, resignations, promotions,
and transfers.
18. Make investigations concerning the enforcement and effect of this act, and require observance of the
provisions and rules adopted under it.
19. Establish provisions and procedures for employee grievances, including appeals to the board. Such
procedures may provide for appeals to be heard by three-member panels of the board.
20. Hear and determine appeals from disciplinary actions as provided in this act.
21. Establish a procedure for reductions in force and a method for reemployment.
22. Keep records necessary for the proper administration of this act and make copies of those records available
upon request in accordance with general law except those which may be exempt pursuant to general law.
23. Make an annual report to be distributed to all appointing authorities.
24. Contract for performance audits as may be required by law.
25. Perform all other acts as may be necessary to accomplish the purposes of this act.

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Section 8. I nitial Employment Lists; Promotional Lists

1. The board shall establish employment eligibility lists for the various classifications in the classified service. The
qualifications, duties, pay, and experience applicable to the classification shall be posted by the board two weeks
preceding the establishment of such list. The list shall contain the names of all persons certified by tests or other
evaluative procedures. The resulting employment list shall be published within 15 working days after the last day of the
two-week notification period. The board shall establish by rule the duration of each employment eligibility list. Scores
shall be valid for a minimum of two years. However, the board may cancel any list when such list, in the board’s
opinion, fails to provide suitable candidates for the classification to be filled. An error in the assessment of any
applicant’s qualifications shall be corrected if called to the attention of the board within 30 days after notification by
the board to the applicant. If an employee has satisfactorily completed a six-month probationary period, such correction
shall not invalidate any appointment made as a result of the error.
2. The board shall establish promotion eligibility lists to fill vacancies in classifications whenever there is a lower
classification, the duties of which directly tend to fit the incumbents thereof for the performance of the duties of the
higher classification. An employee who has not completed the initial probationary period is not eligible for status on a
promotion list.

Section 9. Creation & Abolition of Positions; Filling Vacancies

1. Each appointing authority shall promptly report to the board its intention to establish any new position that may be
classified, and the board shall respond in accordance with the provisions of this act.
2. Whenever a position in the classified service becomes vacant, the appointing authority may ask the board for the
appropriate eligibility list. All classified appointments shall be made from persons certified by the board as eligible.
Appointments shall be regarded as taking effect upon the date the person selected reports for duty.
3. A temporary employee, as defined in Section 5, need not be on a certified eligibility list but must meet minimum
qualifications for the classification of the position to which appointed. An appointing authority may make any
temporary appointment without board approval; however, the board must be promptly notified of any such
appointment. One extension of not more than 120 calendar days may be granted by certification to the board before the
expiration of the initial 120-calendar-day appointment by the appointing authority as not being an avoidance of the duty
to properly fill a valid classified position. Any further extension must receive the prior approval of the board.
4. A substitute employee, as defined in Section 5, need not be on a certified eligibility list but must meet minimum
qualifications for the classification of the position to which appointed.
5. A written report shall be given immediately to the board and to each affected employee by each appointing authority of
all appointments, reinstatements, vacancies, absences, or other matters affecting the status of positions or the
performance of duties of officers or employees in the classified service. Such notices shall be prepared in the manner
and form prescribed by the board.
6. A position in the classified service may not be abolished without the approval of the board. Positions may be abolished
only in good faith.

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Section 10. Probationary Period; Tenure

1. All employees in the classified service are entitled to the protection of this act when they have successfully completed
their initial probationary period, whether the probationary period began before or after the effective date of this act. It is
the intent and purpose of this act to give the protection of tenure of employment to any classified employee of any
appointing authority who has successfully completed the initial probationary period. Any person dismissed during the
initial probationary period is not entitled to an appeal hearing before the board.
2. Whenever a position in the classified service is filled by promotion, the person so promoted shall serve a period of
conditional employment of 6 months in the new position, which may be extended for an additional period of up to 6
months at the discretion of the appointing authority. However, if the probationary period and any extension thereof are
not successfully completed, such person shall forthwith be returned to duty to the former classification held in the civil
service, provided such person has served the initial probationary period. Unsuccessful completion of a probationary
period in a position of promotion is not appealable to the board.
1. Any classified employee, upon transferring to another classified position, may not incur loss of benefits,
including, but not limited to, pensions and leave.
2. Any employee who is employed in an exempt position by an agency or authority within the county and who
transfers to a classified position may not incur loss of benefits, including, but not limited to, pensions and
leaves.

Section 11. Suspension; Demotions; Dismissal

1. Any nontenured employee in the classified service may be suspended, demoted, or dismissed for any reason.
2. Any appointing authority may suspend, demote, or dismiss a tenured employee following written notice to the
employee of the intended action, detailing the reasons therefor and providing an opportunity to respond thereto at an
informal predisciplinary hearing scheduled for that purpose. The hearing must be scheduled no sooner than 5 working
days after the date of notice of intent to discipline unless the employee waives this time and requests an earlier hearing.
If the final decision is to discipline, the appointing authority must provide written notice to the employee as soon as
possible following the hearing.
3. Any employee may be suspended immediately, with or without pay and without the benefit of advance written notice,
upon determination by the appointing authority that such suspension is in the best interest of the county. The appointing
authority must provide written notice to the employee as soon as possible and give the employee the opportunity to be
heard as required in subsection (2).
4. Any employee who has satisfactorily completed the initial probationary period and is thereafter suspended, demoted, or
dismissed from employment may request a hearing to appeal that disciplinary action by making a written request to the
board within 10 calendar days after the official date of receipt of the final notice to discipline. The request for an appeal
hearing must state clearly and simply the reason or reasons the employee believes the disciplinary action was not
justified and must be received by the board within the 10-day limit, and the board must send a copy to the affected
appointing authority within 3 working days after receipt thereof.

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5. The board may reverse the appointing authority’s decision and restore the employee to that employee’s former status
only if it finds that the suspension, demotion, or dismissal was made for a reason other than just cause. The director, or
a member of the board on behalf of the board, shall provide a letter to the affected parties within 10 days after the
appeal hearing, setting forth its findings and conclusions and the specific reasons therefor.

Section 12. Appeal Hearing Procedure

1. The practice and procedure of the board with respect to an appeal hearing authorized by this act shall be in accordance
with adopted rules.
2. The board shall make every reasonable effort to hear any timely filed appeal of demotion or dismissal within 30
working days after receipt of notice of appeal unless an extension of time is requested by the employee or the
appointing authority. At no time may an appeal hearing be delayed beyond 60 calendar days without the consent of
both parties. Requests for appeal hearings of suspensions shall be scheduled as soon as possible. The board shall
provide reasonable notice to all affected persons and provide an opportunity for all affected persons to be heard and to
introduce relevant testimony and evidence at the appeal hearing, which shall be public. All testimony shall be under
oath.
3. Irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded. All other evidence of the type commonly
relied upon by reasonably prudent persons in the conduct of their affairs is admissible, whether or not such evidence
would be admissible in the courts of this state. Hearsay evidence may be introduced and used for supplementing or
explaining other evidence, but it shall not be sufficient in itself to support a finding by the board unless it would be
admissible over objections in a civil action.
4. For the purpose of such hearing, the director or a member of the board is authorized to issue subpoenas to compel the
attendance of witnesses and the production of books, accounts, records, and documents. The board or any member of
the board may administer oaths and compel testimony. In the case of disobedience by any person of an order of the
board to testify to any matter regarding which the person may be lawfully interrogated, or of a subpoena to appear or
produce documents in the person’s possession, a county judge shall upon application of the director or a member of the
board, compel obedience by attachment proceedings for contempt, as in the case of a similar court order. Each person
who serves such a subpoena shall receive the same fee as a sheriff, and each witness who appears in obedience to a
subpoena shall receive the same witness fee and mileage provided for witnesses in civil cases, which fees shall be
audited and paid in the same manner as other expenses.

Section 13. Administrative Office of the Courts; Hearing to Review Action of Dismissal, Demotion, or
Suspension

Any employee holding a position within the Administrative Office of the Courts which was classified as of January 1, 1998, and
which is funded by the county may request a hearing to review such dismissal, demotion, or suspension action by making a
written request to the board within 10 calendar days after the official date of receipt of the final notice of the action. The request
for a hearing must state clearly and simply the reason such employee believes the action was not justified. The board shall send a
copy of any employees’ request for hearing to the court administrator within three working days after receipt. The practice and

387/430 Baylawsuits.com A-366
procedure of the board with respect to a review hearing authorized in this section shall be in accordance with adopted rules. If the
board finds that such court employees’ dismissal, demotion, or suspension was for a reason other than just cause, it may
recommend to the chief judge that such employee be restored to that employees’ former status. Such recommendation is not
binding on the chief judge.

Section 14. Recommendation & Adoption of Classification & Pay Plans

1. At least once annually, on or before March 31, the board shall recommend any revisions to the classification and pay
plan and shall immediately forward them to each appointing authority. The pay plan shall provide, for each class of
position in the classification plan, a salary schedule with an initial entrance salary, intermediate points, a method of
recognizing longevity, and a maximum salary. Thereafter, but not later than April 30, the board shall prepare a final
recommendation, taking into consideration any responses received from any appointing authority and including as
backup material copies of all such responses. If the final recommendation is for a change to the pay plan, the
classification plan, or both, the recommendation shall be presented, along with the backup material, to each budget
authority for the classified employees whose positions it funds. Each budget authority must approve, amend, or reject a
salary schedule for the classified employees it funds by the date of adoption of its annual budget. A budget authority
shall not adopt a salary schedule for any employee whose salary is funded by any other budget authority. The board
shall adopt the salary schedule adopted by each budget authority and include each in the board’s pay plan. The board
shall also adopt salary schedules established in accordance with any collective bargaining or impasse resolution
procedures of any of the agencies or authorities to which this act applies, and shall also include each salary schedule so
established within the board’s pay plan.
2. The maximum salary shall be established and used for each class within a salary schedule. The salary schedule shall be
used unless the board makes a determination that:
1. It is in the best interests of the county to approve a salary exceeding the maximum to avoid loss of pay for an
employee; and one of the following conditions applies:
1. A pay grade is being reduced by administrative action, including reclassification to a position with
a lower pay grade, regrading of a class to a lower pay grade, or demotion through reduction in force
to a class with a lower pay grade
2. An employee is voluntarily demoted
3. An employee’s position is incorporated into civil service
2. It is necessary to implement a court order, settlement, or contract or to avoid impairing a property interest.

Section 15. Appropriation for the Board

The commission shall appropriate to the board annually a sum of money equal to not less than sixty-five hundredths of one
percent of the classified personnel payroll of the fiscal year just ended to enable the board to properly carry out the purposes of
this act. It is the duty of the authorities having charge of the public buildings of such county to allow the reasonable use of public
buildings and rooms for the holding of any activity of the board provided for by this act and to provide quarters for the use of the
board.

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Section 16. Creation of Review Committee; Transition

A review committee shall be established consisting of the director of the board; eight persons, one to be designated by each of the
following:

 Clerk of the circuit court
 Commission
 Port authority
 Property appraiser
 Sheriff
 Supervisor of elections
 Tax collector
 The aviation authority

A representative shall also be selected by the employee advisory committee. The director of the board shall call an organizational
meeting in September of each year for the selection of officers, adoption of procedural rules, and formulation of a proposed
agenda. The committee may meet as many times thereafter as necessary, and the staff of the board shall be available for its use.
The review committee shall review the current rules adopted pursuant to this act and may propose changes as appropriate for the
board’s consideration. The board shall act upon the committee’s recommendation within 60 days after their presentation to the
board.

Section 17. Fiscal Responsibility

A salary, wage, or compensation for services may not be provided to any person in the classified service except upon certification
by the board or its agent that the position has been classified as required by this act and rules adopted pursuant thereto and that
the incumbent in the position has been duly qualified and properly appointed. Any individual who in good faith accepts an
appointment contrary to this act and becomes entitled to compensation therefor has a cause of action against the appointing
authority for recovery of salary or other compensation due. The board may provide for the regular or occasional audit of payrolls
to enforce this provision.

Section 18. Prohibited Activities

A person may not deceive or obstruct another person with respect to that person’s right to apply for employment under this act. A
person may not falsely evaluate an application or test for the purpose of improving or injuring an applicant’s chances for
employment. An applicant may not knowingly misrepresent the applicant’s qualifications for the purpose of improving the
applicant’s chances for employment. A person may not use the authority of a position in the classified service to solicit or receive
political contributions. A person may not use or promise to use influence or official authority to secure appointment to the
classified service in return for political contribution or service. A public officer or employee may not by means of threats or
coercion induce or attempt to induce any person in the classified service to resign, take leave, or waive any rights under this act.
A resignation executed prior to appointment is of no effect.

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Section 19. Restriction on I ndividual Qualifying for Public Political Office

No subordinate personnel need resign upon qualifying for any compensated, elected public office unless such individual is
seeking to qualify for a public office which is currently held by an individual who has the authority to appoint, employ, promote,
or otherwise supervise that subordinate personnel and who has qualified as a candidate for reelection to that public office. No
subordinate personnel of the county administrator need resign upon qualifying for any compensated, elected public office unless
such individual is seeking to qualify for a position on the commission in which the incumbent has qualified as a candidate for
reelection. However, any such personnel shall take a leave of absence without pay from public employment during the period in
which the person is seeking election to public office. A classified employee may serve in an elected public office if service in
such elected office does not conflict with the performance of the employee’s duties in the classified service or present a conflict
of interest between the elected office and the classified position. If a classified employee is elected, the appointing authority
where that employee is employed shall determine whether the employee’s service in public office conflicts with the performance
of his or her duties with the appointing authority. If the employee disagrees with any finding that relates to a conflict with the
performance of duties, the employee may file a grievance or appeal under the applicable processes.

Section 20. Employee Advisory Committee

An employee advisory committee shall be elected from among the employees of the agencies or authorities named in Section 4 in
a manner and for terms prescribed by the board. The board shall also prescribe the manner by which any vacant unexpired term
shall be filled. The employee advisory committee will serve as the medium to provide a continuous and meaningful exchange of
ideas and practical solutions on personnel matters between the board and employees.

Section 21. Violation of Act; Penalty

Any willful violation of this act is declared to be a criminal offense and misdemeanor as defined in s775.08(2), Florida Statutes,
shall be punishable as provided by general law.

Section 22. Recodification

Prior to the end of calendar year 2010 and every 10 years thereafter, the county legislative delegation shall review this act, as
amended, to determine whether there is a need for codification. If it is determined that there is such a need, the delegation may
require the board to prepare such legislation and submit it to the delegation for further consideration.

Section 23. Severability

If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other
provisions or applications of the act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the
provisions of this act are declared severable.

Section 24.

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Chapters 96-519, 97-342, 97-343, 97-349, 97-350, 98-450, 98-481, and 99-415, Laws of Florida, are repealed.

Section 25.This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.

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391/430 Baylawsuits.com A-370
CHAPTER 2014-230

House Bill No. 683

An act relating to Hillsborough County; amending chapter 2000-445, Laws of
Florida, relating to the Civil Service Act; providing an agency or authority
with the ability to opt out of or opt into provisions of the act that regulate
personnel functions; authorizing an agency or authority that has elected to
opt out of certain personnel functions to contract with the Civil Service
Board to provide the same personnel functions in a nonregulatory capacity;
providing for an appropriation to the Civil Service Board to carry out the
purposes of the act; requiring the commission to consider the level of
services provided by the Civil Service Board to the participating agencies
or authorities; providing an effective date.

Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

Section 1. Sections 4 and 15 of chapter 2000-445, Laws of Florida, are
amended to read:
Section 4. Application.—
(1) The provisions of this act apply to all classified personnel employed by
the following agencies or authorities within the county: the commission, the
county administrator, clerk of the circuit court, supervisor of elections,
property appraiser, tax collector, sheriff, environmental protection commis-
sion, aviation authority, port authority, planning commission, public
transportation commission, expressway authority, law library, legislative
delegation, soil and water conservation district, civil service board, sports
authority, children’s board, county attorney, arts council, victim assistance,
and any other agency or authority not expressly exempt from this act. Each
municipality in the county, the judiciary, and the District School Board of the
county are expressly exempt from this act until and unless each executes an
interlocal agreement with the board pursuant to general law. Positions
within the Administrative Office of the Courts which were classified as of
January 1, 1998, and which are funded by the county are subject to section 13
of this act.
(2) Each agency or authority listed in this section that is not expressly
exempt from this act remains subject to sections 11 and 12. With respect to
the remaining provisions of this act, each agency or authority has the option
to either opt out of or opt into any provision that relates to personnel
functions by providing notice to the board during the election period as
provided in this subsection. Personnel functions subject to the opt-out or opt-
in election include, but are not limited to, employee recruitment; selection
and hiring process; creation and adoption of classification plans, benefit
plans, and pay plans; promotions; abolition and creation of positions; filling
vacancies; performance review and evaluation systems; reductions in force
and methods of reemployment; guidelines for leave; determination of
1
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.

392/430 Baylawsuits.com A-371
Ch. 2014-230 LAWS OF FLORIDA Ch. 2014-230

classified service status and tenure; and any other human resources
functions. The agency or authority that has elected to opt out of or opt
into any provision of this act has the exclusive authority to determine which
corresponding Civil Service Rules shall apply to that specific agency or
authority.

(a) The notice shall cite the specific provision of this act that the agency or
authority has elected to either opt out of or opt into, and identify the group of
employees subject to the opt-out or opt-in election, including designations
based on job classifications, divisions, dates of employment, or any other
delineated group of employees as determined by the agency or authority. The
notice shall also identify the personnel functions that are covered by the opt-
out or opt-in election.
(b) For the initial election period, the agency or authority shall provide
notice of its opt-out or opt-in election on or after July 1, 2014, but not later
than July 31, 2014, with an implementation date for the election to be
October 1, 2014. For each election period thereafter, the agency or authority
shall provide notice of its opt-out or opt-in election on or after December 1 but
not later than December 31 of that year, with an implementation date for the
election to be the first day of the next fiscal year.
(c) If an agency or authority does not submit notice of its opt-out or opt-in
election to the board during any designated election period, the provisions of
this act applicable to the agency or authority before the election period shall
remain in effect. An agency or authority that elects to opt out of any
personnel function regulated by this act may, at its discretion, contract with
the board to continue to provide the same personnel functions in a
nonregulatory capacity.
Section 15. Appropriation for the board.—The commission shall appro-
priate to the board annually a sum of money equal to not less than sixty-five
hundredths of 1 percent of the classified personnel payroll of the fiscal year
just ended, less the cost of providing any personnel functions that an agency
or authority has chosen to opt out of, in order to enable the board to properly
carry out the purposes of this act. In determining the annual appropriation of
funds, the commission shall also consider the cost of personnel functions
provided to agencies or authorities that have contracted with the board for
some or all of the personnel functions of which it has opted out, and any
additional personnel functions that the board has contracted with an agency
or authority to provide. It is the duty of the authorities having charge of the
public buildings of such county to allow the reasonable use of public buildings
and rooms for the holding of any activity of the board provided for by this act
and to provide quarters for the use of the board.

Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2014.
Approved by the Governor May 12, 2014.
Filed in Office Secretary of State May 12, 2014.

2
CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.

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Tab. 4

394/430 Baylawsuits.com
RULE ELEVEN Rule 11

Dismissals, Suspensions, Involuntary Demotions for Cause, Resignations, and Pre-
Disciplinary/Administrative Due Process Hearings

11.1 General Provisions for Dismissals, Suspensions, and Involuntary Demotions for
Cause:

a. Personnel actions contemplated in this rule are those which diminish or eliminate,
either permanently or temporarily, the salary of a tenured member of the classified
service. Those actions include involuntary demotion for cause, suspension without
pay, and dismissal from employment.

b. A classified employee may be suspended with or without pay, demoted for cause, or
dismissed by his or her Agency Head or their designated representative, when such
action will promote the efficiency of the classified service. Any adverse action taken
by the Agency Head, or their designated representative, must be based on just cause.

c. Any non-tenured employee in the classified service may be suspended or dismissed
for any cause if that suspension or dismissal will promote the efficiency of the
classified service. Such adverse actions shall not be appealable to the Civil Service
Board. [CSL Section 11 (1)]

d. No disciplinary action shall be based on an employee's sex, color, age, marital status,
national origin, citizenship status, disability, political or religious affiliations, or any
other non-performance factor. [CSL Section 2(1) (2) (3) or IRCA]

11.2 Reasons for Dismissals, Suspensions, or Involuntary Demotions for Cause:

Employees in the classified service may be suspended, involuntarily demoted, or
dismissed for cause. Cause may include but is not limited to situations where the
employee during the scope of employment or, when applicable, in any other capacity
or under circumstances that adversely affect an agency’s or Hillsborough County’s
interest has:

(1) violated the Civil Service Rules, or any operational or administrative rules or
procedures established by or for the Agency Head or their designated
representative, which are not inconsistent with these rules.

(2) exhibited incompetence; or continued rendering of unsatisfactory service, after
instruction and/or counseling.

(3) failed to maintain competence or legal capacity to perform the duties required
of the classification/position.

(4) demonstrated a gross neglect of duty or a specific serious failure to perform
assigned duties.

(5) committed an act of insubordination.

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11.2 (Continued)

(6) violated any lawful official regulation or order, or failed to obey any proper
direction made and given by a superior.

(7) committed harassment, including but not limited to sexual harassment, or
actions which, although not amounting to a cause of action for harassment, are
inappropriate actions of a sexual, hostile, abusive or interfering nature towards
another employee, customer, vendor, citizen, or any other person with whom
the employee comes into contact as a result of employment.

(8) failed to acquire or maintain a valid license, registration or certification, as
required by Federal or State law, or applicable Hillsborough County Agency
policy, when such license, registration or certification is required in the class
specification or the position description.

(9) improperly used or possessed, sold, distributed, dispensed or manufactured a
controlled substance, or an illegal drug while at work, on Hillsborough County
property, in a County vehicle or other vehicle utilized in the service of the
County, or while off the premises performing work for the County.

(10) indulged in an intoxicating beverage, an hallucinogen, or a controlled
stimulant or depressant drug while on duty or preceding duty so that such
indulgence can be discerned after the time for commencement of duties. [The
professional opinion of one licensed physician, or the signed statements of two
or more other persons, shall suffice for determination of discernment of
intoxication].

(11) engaged in a physical fight at the work site or has engaged in a verbally
abusive and/or intimidating confrontation with a supervisor, peer, employee, or
a member of the public.

(12) negligently operated a County owned or other vehicle used in the service of the
County.

(13) violated, or failed to enforce, safety practices including the performance of
unsafe acts, failure to wear and/or use safety equipment, or failure to comply
with safety rules.

(14) failed to immediately report a work related personal injury or damage to
property or equipment.

(15) used or threatened to use, or attempted to use, bribery, personal or political
influence of his or her position for personal gain. [CSL Section 18]

(16) in connection with official duties, accepted compensation other than that
specifically authorized by Civil Service Rules. [CSL Section 18]

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11.2 (Continued)

(17) misappropriated County funds, appropriated County property, services, or
personnel for his/her personal use, or illegally disposed of County property.

(18) damaged County property through negligence.

(19) made false claims or misrepresentations on behalf of oneself or another in an
attempt to obtain County provided benefits, workers' compensation benefits, or
other payments or credits.

(20) been absent without leave, failed to give proper notice of absence, or failed to
report after a leave of absence has expired.

(21) failed to maintain a satisfactory attendance record.

(22) committed or been convicted, or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, to
an act which constitutes a felony or a misdemeanor having specific relevance
to the duties of the employee's classification.

(23) falsified or omitted information as part of the qualifying application for
employment and/or promotion, or any other document of Civil Service or the
using agency, for the purpose of personal gain or reward. [CSL Section 18]

(24) violated established security procedures during the qualifying examination
process or has obtained information, through unauthorized or illegal means,
which provides an unfair advantage on any qualifying examination.

(25) without approval, knowingly and willfully modified, used or accessed data,
communications systems, programs or supplies used or intended to be used in
County computers, computer systems, communications systems, or network.

(26) exhibited actions or conduct prejudicial to good order, or detrimental to the
interest of Hillsborough County.

(27) demonstrated mental or physical impairment that prevents the employee, with
or without reasonable accommodation, from performing the essential functions
of his or her position.

(28) engaged in activities while not on duty in the classified service, including but
not limited to activities in other employment or elected office, which are
inconsistent with or create a conflict of interest with the requirements of
performing or serving in the classified service. If discipline is imposed under
this rule without the Appointing Authority providing prior notice to the
employee that it considers an action to be inconsistent with or to create a
conflict of interest with performance or service in the classified service, and
the

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RULE ELEVEN Rule 11

11.2 (Continued)

activities are not otherwise improper, unlawful, or a violation of these rules,
the Appointing Authority must demonstrate that immediate discipline is
justified by compelling circumstances.

(29) disrupted, disturbed, or in any way interfered with an agency investigation,
including but not limited to: knowingly having made false allegations which
were investigated; knowingly having made or caused to be made false
statements or misrepresentations during the course of an investigation; having
taken or destroyed documents relevant to an investigation; knowingly having
spread false information concerning an investigation; or having inappropriately
influenced, or having attempted to inappropriately influence, witnesses,
potential witnesses, or investigators in an agency investigation.

(30) knowingly made or caused to be made a false statement or misrepresentation in
a matter of official county business, including but not limited to an agency’s
mission or activities, the employee’s work performance, or dealings with
customers.

(31) refused to repay monies to or enter into a reasonable repayment agreement
with an agency which mistakenly paid or gave monies or benefits to or on
behalf of the employee as a result of an administrative error or incorrect
information and to which the employee was not entitled.

(32) any other properly substantiated cause that is in the best interest of
Hillsborough County.

11.3 Immediate Suspensions In The Best Interest of Hillsborough County:

a. Upon determination that the conduct of an employee creates a situation requiring the
removal of the employee from a duty station, the Agency Head or designated
representative may immediately suspend the employee, with or without pay; and,
without the benefit of advanced written notification. [CSL Section 11 (3)]

b. Situations may include, but are not limited to those situations in which the retention
of the employee would:

(1) result in damage to County property; or,

(2) be injurious to the employee, a fellow employee, or to the general
public; or,

(3) substantially impair management's ability to maintain decorum and
discipline; or,

(4) there is a need to initiate or complete a formal investigation regarding
action by the employee that may lead to discipline; or,

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RULE ELEVEN Rule 11

11.3 (Continued)

(5) be otherwise detrimental to the interest of Hillsborough County.

c. Employees suspended under these provisions shall be provided written notice of the
action taken, stating the reason(s) therefor; and, the effective date(s). The notice shall
also provide the employee an opportunity to respond at a Pre-Disciplinary hearing
schedule for that purpose. The notice shall be provided the employee within three (3)
working days or five (5) calendar days of their suspension date, whichever is sooner.

d. In the event the Agency Head or designated representative does not schedule a Pre-
Disciplinary hearing within a 60-day calendar period from the effective date of
suspension, the Agency Head, or designated representative, will provide the
employee and the Civil Service Board a status report with reasons as to the delay in
scheduling of a Pre-Disciplinary hearing. Thereafter, a status report will be sent to
the employee and the Civil Service Board every 30 days until a Pre-Disciplinary
hearing is scheduled.

11.4 Pre-Disciplinary and Administrative Due Process Hearing Requirements:

When dismissal, suspension, or involuntary demotion for cause action against a
tenured employee is contemplated by an Agency Head or their designated
representative, it is the responsibility of that authority or designated representative to
provide the employee with written notice of the intended action, detailing the reasons
therefor, and providing the employee an opportunity to respond at an informal Pre-
Disciplinary or Administrative Due Process hearing scheduled for that purpose.

(1) The hearing shall be scheduled no sooner than five working days from the date
of the written notice to administer the dismissal, suspension, or involuntary
demotion, unless the employee waives this time and requests an earlier
hearing.

(2) After hearing the employee's response at the scheduled Pre-Disciplinary or
Administrative Due Process hearing, the Agency Head or their designated
representative, may lessen, or rescind the action first intended, or may proceed.

(3) If the final decision is to impose the dismissal, suspension, or involuntary
demotion, the Agency Head or their designated representative, shall provide
the employee, as soon as possible, with written notification of such action
using Civil Service Form 5 [Notice of Employment Suspension, Involuntary
Demotion for Cause, or Dismissal]. Such notification must be signed and dated
by the employee indicating his or her acknowledgment. Should the employee
refuse to sign the notification, a statement to that effect shall be placed in the
space provided for the employee's signature and be authenticated by the
Agency Head or their designated representative.

(4) Where the CS Form 5 cannot be personally presented to the employee, the
Agency Head or duly authorized representative, shall mail such notification to

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RULE ELEVEN Rule 11

11.4 (Continued)

the employee's last known address using Certified Mail [return receipt
requested]; and, shall afford the employee an opportunity to file an appeal
within ten [10] calendar days from receipt. In these cases, the employee's
acknowledgement of receipt shall constitute the official date of receipt of the
final notice of suspension, demotion, or dismissal. In cases where the
notification is returned unclaimed, the "date of first attempted delivery"
indicated on the returned mailed document shall be used as the employee’s
official date of notification of dismissal, suspension, or involuntary demotion
for cause.

(5) A copy of the Civil Service Form 5, signed by the employee, along with Civil
Service Form 2 [Status Form] changing the status of the employee, shall
normally be forwarded to the Civil Service Office within five [5] working days
of imposing dismissal, suspension, or involuntary demotion for cause action.

11.5 Resignation of Position:

a. An employee may leave the service of Hillsborough County voluntarily by
resignation. Whenever possible, a resignation should be in writing and submitted to
the Appointing Authority in a timely fashion.

b. The effective date of a resignation submitted by an employee, whether orally or in
writing, should provide for sufficient notice to allow for proper replacement.
Sufficient and proper notice shall normally be considered to be at least two weeks.

11.6 Abandonment of Position:

a. An employee may be deemed to have abandoned his or her position of employment,
if the employee does not return to work at the properly appointed time. Three
consecutive working days of unauthorized absence constitute the normal period of
absence taken as an indication of abandonment. However, termination of
employment is not mandatory and circumstances of each case must be carefully
examined by the Agency head or their designated representative before a report of
dismissal of employment is entered in the record.

b. In cases involving a tenured employee, the Agency Head or their designated
representative shall provide the employee with written notification of the intention to
initiate termination action as a result of abandonment of position. Such notification
shall be mailed to the employee's last known address using Certified Mail [return
receipt requested]; and, shall afford the employee an opportunity [normally ten (10)
calendar days from the date of receipt] to respond justifying the unauthorized
absence. Should the final period end on either Saturday, Sunday or Hillsborough
County designated legal holiday, the period shall be extended until the end of the
next day which is neither a Saturday, Sunday nor Hillsborough County designated
legal holiday.

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RULE ELEVEN Rule 11

11.6 (Continued)

(1) After considering the employee's response, the Agency Head or their
designated representative may rescind the action first intended or initiate
disciplinary action.

(2) If the final decision is to discipline, the Agency Head or his/her designated
representative shall comply with the requirements stipulated in Civil Service
Rule 11.4.

(3) Should the employee fail to respond to the original notification letter, the
Agency Head or his/her designated representative, may consider this as an
indication of abandonment and shall initiate dismissal action. In these cases, a
copy of the notification letter with evidence of mailing, along with CS Form 2
changing the status of the employee, stating the effective date and reason, shall
be forwarded to the Civil Service Office as soon as possible.

(4) Any employee who is dismissed as a result of abandoning his or her position,
and was properly notified of the Agency Head's intention to dismiss and who
failed to respond to that notification, shall forfeit all rights for the payment of
all sick and annual leave accrued, but not used.

11.7 Reduction-In-Force:

a. Each Agency Head shall develop and file with the Civil Service Board a Reduction-
In-Force Plan, to include a method of reemployment. Such plan shall be filed with
the Civil Service Board no later than sixty (60) days prior to the effective date of the
reduction-in-force.

b. The Agency Head of the agency in which the reduction-in-force will occur, shall
identify the number of positions to be reduced within each affected classification.

c. Before any tenured employee in the classification to be reduced is laid off, employees
on initial probation in the affected classification and, all temporary and substitute
employees performing like work shall be dismissed..

d. The Agency Head shall certify the names of those to be laid off in the classification
to be reduced, based upon seniority and other factors, as established by the Agency
Head's Reduction-In-Force Plan. Special consideration in the retention of employees
shall be given those persons eligible to receive veterans' preference, as defined in
Civil Service Rule 7.1c.

e. The Agency Head shall furnish each classified employee to be laid off, written
notification of the intended action. The notification shall be provided to the employee

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RULE ELEVEN Rule 11

11.7 (Continued)
a minimum of two weeks in advance; and, state the reason for the layoff and the
effective date. Concurrently, a copy of the notice shall be forwarded to the Civil
Service Office for appropriate action and inclusion in the employee's permanent
record.

f. Before any RIF'd employee is placed in a position of promotion, a Closed
Promotional Opportunity or an Open Recruitment process must be completed in
accordance with applicable Civil Service Rules. To be considered for these
recruitments, the employee must apply through the Civil Service Office and be
certified as qualified for special consideration on employment eligibility lists.

g. Employees that are laid off due to a reduction-in-force may apply for Closed
Promotion Recruitments within one year of lay off.

h. Any tenured employee who is reemployed in a classified position within one year
after having been laid off from a classified position shall have their tenure status
restored. The employee’s benefits date and performance review date will be
adjusted for the total number of days between the last day of work and the date of
reemployment.

i. All benefits to which the tenured employee was entitled, as required by Civil
Service Law or Rules, on the date of lay off; and, for which not otherwise
compensated, are reestablished on the date of reemployment. No further benefits
accrue during the actual period of lay off.

j. Upon reemployment in the same classification, the employee shall receive the same
r ate of pay held at the time of lay off, or the minimum of the pay range, whichever
is higher.

k. Upon reemployment in a lower classification, the employee shall be paid in
accordance with Civil Service Rule 7.3c.

l. Employees reemployed in a higher classification shall receive an increase in salary
as provided for in Civil Service Rule 8.2a (1). The employee’s Performance
Review date shall be established based on the probation period of the new job
classification (normally six months). In the event that the conditional probation
period is unsuccessful, return to former class is not an option.

m. Upon reemployment in a different classification, without promotion or demotion,
the employee shall receive the same rate of pay held at the time of lay off, or the
minimum of the pay range, whichever is higher.

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RULE ELEVEN Rule 11

11.8 Workers' Compensation Dismissal and Return to Work Program
a. The Agency Head shall file notice with the Civil Service Board whenever it becomes
necessary to dismiss any classified employee qualified for wage loss benefits, as
defined in the State Workers' Compensation Statute, or any classified employee who
is unable to perform the essential functions of their job with or without reasonable
accommodation(s).

b. Each classified employee to be dismissed shall be given a written notice of dismissal
by the Agency Head at least two weeks prior to the date of effect. The notice shall
state the reason for dismissal and the date it is to become effective. Concurrently, a
copy of the notice shall be forwarded to the Civil Service Office for inclusion in the
employee's permanent record.
c. In cases where Civil Service is not actively recruiting; and, in order to assist the
employee in gaining other employment, they will be certified; and, their names
referred for consideration to those departments/agencies having vacancies in the
classification for which they qualify. Before any such employee is placed in a
position of promotion, a Closed Promotional Opportunity, or an Open Recruitment
process must be completed in accordance with applicable Civil Service Rules.
d. The name of each classified employee dismissed shall be placed on the Open
Recruitment Eligibility List for any classification which qualified; and, shall be
retained thereon for three months or until reinstated, whichever occurs first.

e. Any person who is reinstated in a classified position after having been dismissed
from any such position in the Civil Service system, shall have their tenure status
restored, if applicable. All service which was creditable on the date of dismissal will
be included when computing the employees length of service, provided the employee
is reinstated within one year from the effective date of dismissal.

f. In all cases of dismissal, the employee's Benefits Date will be adjusted by adding the
length of the dismissal, regardless of the length of that period.

g. All benefits to which the employee was entitled, as required by Civil Service Law or
Rules, on the date of dismissal; and, for which not otherwise compensated, are
reestablished on the date of reinstatement. No further benefits accrue during the
actual period of dismissal.

h. Upon reinstatement in the same classification, the employee shall receive the same
rate of pay held at the time of dismissal, or the minimum of the pay range, whichever
is higher. The Performance Review Date will be adjusted by adding the length of the
dismissal, regardless of the length of that absence.

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RULE ELEVEN Rule 11

11.8 (Continued)
i. Upon reinstatement in a lower classification, the employee shall be paid as provided
for in Civil Service Rule 7.3c. The employee's most recent Performance Review
Date and conditional probationary period, if applicable, will be adjusted by adding
the length of the dismissal, regardless of the length of that absence

j. Employees reinstated in a higher classification shall receive an increase in salary as
provided for in Civil Service Rule 8.2a(1). The employee's Performance Review Date
shall be established at the successful completion of conditional probation, normally
six months from the date of reinstatement.

k. Upon reinstatement in a different classification, without promotion or demotion, the
employee shall receive the same rate of pay held at the time of dismissal, or the
minimum of the pay range, whichever is higher. The Performance Review Date will
be adjusted by adding the length of the dismissal, regardless of the length of that
absence.

l. As an exception to the procedures prescribed above in Civil Service Rule 11.8h
through 11.8l, the Agency Head may, when budgetary necessity dictates, reinstate
any employee at any pay level within the pay range that does not exceed the
employee's rate of pay at the time of dismissal.

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Tab. 5

405/430 Baylawsuits.com
RULE FIFTEEN Rule 15

Appeal Hearing Procedures

15.1 General/Powers of the Board:

(1) The employee appeal procedure mandated in Sections 11 and 12 of the Civil
Service Act (Chapter 2000-445, L.O.F., as amended) is implemented by this
rule and the relevant provisions contained in Civil Service Rules 2, 3, and
11 which are hereby incorporated by reference.

(2) The Board will utilize electronic filing in employee appeals. Parties to any
action shall electronically file (e-file) all documents using the Board’s
online e-Filing procedures. It is intended that such electronic filing shall be
consistent with Florida Rules of Judicial Administration as appropriate and
to the extent feasible. Self-represented individuals who do not have the
means to file electronically may submit paper documents in person or via
U.S. mail.
(3) The Board, acting in concert or through its Chair, may delegate certain
responsibilities to the Director or the General Counsel from time to time.
Such delegation shall be in writing and will be subject to review and renewal
on an annual basis.

(4) Review of Any Action: An appointing authority or employee may appeal
to the Board for review of any action taken or directive given by the Director
or General Counsel on behalf of the Board. All such appeals must be
presented in writing within the time frame directed by the General Counsel
or the Chair. The Board’s final judgment is subject to review in accordance
with the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.

15.2 Appointing Authority:

(1) The Appointing Authority shall notify the Director of all disciplinary
actions which it imposes upon a classified employee(s) resulting in a
suspension, demotion, or dismissal within 3 business day of issuing a Notice
of Discipline (CS Form 5).

(2) When an employee submits a request to the Board for an appeal hearing,
the Board may request from the Appointing Authority additional
documentation which may be needed to determine the employee’s
eligibility for an appeal hearing under the applicable provisions of the Civil
Service Act and Rules. The Authority shall provide the requested
information to the Board within five (5) business days. These documents
should be provided electronically in accordance with this Rule.

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RULE FIFTEEN Rule 15

15.3 Employees:

(1) Employees Eligible for Appeal Hearing: Any classified employee who has
satisfactorily completed the required initial probationary period, and is
thereafter involuntarily demoted for cause, suspended, or dismissed from
employment, may request a formal hearing before the Board to appeal said
action.

(2) Employees Not Eligible for Appeal Hearing:
a. An employee who has not satisfactorily completed the required
initial probationary period shall have no right to a Pre-disciplinary
or Administrative Due Process hearing, or to an appeal hearing
before the Board. [CSL Section 11(1)]

b. Unsuccessful completion of the required conditional probationary
period following promotion is not appealable to the Board. [CSL
Section 10 (2)]

c. Employees not holding a classified position shall not be eligible for
an appeal hearing. This shall include any employee within the
Administrative Office of the Courts (Court Administrator) who
holds a position which was not classified as of January 1, 1998, and
funded by Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.
[CSL Section 13]

d. The Director will notify an employee who is not eligible to receive
a formal appeal hearing of the employee’s ineligibility within seven
(7) working days from the receipt of the employee’s request for
hearing.

(3) Employees Covered by Collective Bargaining Agreements:

Classified employees who are members of a bargaining unit shall be
allowed to appeal any single action through either the applicable collective
bargaining appeal procedures or the Board’s appeal process. Once an appeal
is initiated in either process it shall be resolved in that process. [FS 447.401]

(4) Employee Rights During Appeal Hearing:

During the appeal hearing, the employee initiating the appeal shall have the
right to be heard publicly, to present evidence, to cross examine witnesses,
and to be represented by legal counsel, or an individual of the employee’s
choice, as provided for in 15.3(5). In all cases, the employee shall be
responsible for any and all expenses that he or she may incur in these
proceedings.

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RULE FIFTEEN Rule 15

15.3 (Continued)

(5) An employee may be represented in a grievance or appeal proceeding by
any individual who is not a witness to the proceeding. Such representative
may not be compensated for their assistance, unless the individual is
licensed or admitted to practice law in the state of Florida, another state, the
District of Columbia, or a federal court, or unless the individual is
compensated in his or her capacity as an employee or representative of a
duly recognized bargaining agent.

15.4 Basis for Appeal:

(1) The document which forms the basis for the appeal by a classified employee
is the CS Form 5 [Notice of Employment Suspension, Involuntary
Demotion for Cause, or Dismissal]. This document must include the action
which is being taken, the factual basis for imposing the action, the effective
date or dates of the action, and the specific Civil Service Rule(s), and/or
internal agency policy(ies) or regulation(s) which the Agency Head claims
have been violated.

a. Where the Agency Head claims that an internal policy or regulation
has been violated, a copy of such internal policy(ies) or regulation(s)
shall be provided to the Board.

(2) The facts contained in the Civil Service Form 5, and the Civil Service Rule
violations, and/or internal agency policy(ies) or regulation identified
therein, are the only subject matter litigated during the appeal hearing.

(3) Should an Agency Head, or designated representative who initiated the
action, desire to present a violation of a different Civil Service Rule(s),
and/or internal agency policy(ies) or regulation, than those which appear in
the initial Civil Service Form 5 which forms the basis of the appeal, or a
different factual basis for finding a violation based on newly acquired
evidence discovered subsequent to the issuance of the initial Form 5, the
Board will remand the appeal back to the Agency Head for further
proceedings on the new factual material or Rules.

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RULE FIFTEEN Rule 15

15.4 (Continued)

(4) Except for the requirement of the Agency Head to provide an opportunity
for the employee to respond at a Pre-disciplinary or Administrative Due
Process hearing, the Board shall not consider other aspects of the Pre-
disciplinary or Administrative Due Process procedures of the Agency Head
in any way, including questions such as whether the appellant received
adequate notice of the hearing, whether the appellant was adequately
represented at the Pre-disciplinary or Administrative Due Process hearing,
or whether the Agency Head followed its own internal procedures leading
up to the Pre-disciplinary or Administrative Due Process hearing. Evidence
introduced by either side at the Pre-disciplinary or Administrative Due
Process hearing may be admissible to determine whether the grounds listed
on the Civil Service Form 5 are within the scope of matters addressed by
the Pre-disciplinary or Administrative Due Process hearing. In addition,
evidence introduced at the Pre-disciplinary or Administrative Due Process
hearing may be admitted to impeach a witness regarding an inconsistent
statement; or for other purposes not inconsistent with this Rule, the Civil
Service Law or applicable legal precedent.

15.5 Request for Appeal [CSL Section 11(4)]:

(1) The request for an appeal hearing must be received by the Civil Service
Office within ten (10) calendar days following the employee’s official date
of receipt of CS Form 5. Should the final period end on either Saturday,
Sunday or Hillsborough County designated legal holiday, the period shall
be extended until the end of the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday
or Hillsborough County designated legal holiday.

(2) The request for an appeal hearing must be submitted electronically using an
Appeal Request CS Form 5A; and shall be electronically signed by the
employee and/or his or her authorized representative. Electronic filing
forms and instructions may be accessed at www.hccsb.org Self-represented
individuals who do not have the means to file electronically may submit the
Appeal Request Form (5A) in person or via U.S. mail.

(3) The CS Form 5A shall provide the telephone number, E-mail address, and
U.S. mail address to which a copy of the notice of hearing and other
pleadings or papers filed in the appeal action should be mailed or sent
electronically.

(4) The CS Form 5A shall state clearly and simply the reason(s) the employee
believes the suspension, involuntary demotion for cause, or dismissal was
not for just cause.

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RULE FIFTEEN Rule 15

15.5 (Continued)

(5) Within three (3) working days from the receipt of the employee's request
for appeal hearing, the Board Director shall send a Notice of such request
to the Agency Head, or authorized representative, who initiated the action.
[CSL Section 11(4)] Such Notice shall also include the dates and
requirements as provided for in CSR 15.9 Scheduling of Appeal Hearing,
CSR 15.12 Motion for Summary Judgment, and CSR 15.14 Pre-Hearing
Conference.

15.6 E-filing Consent, Exception, Service, and Technology:

(1) Consent of the parties required: After the Director has accepted the
employee’s request for appeal, documents may be electronically filed and
served, but only by, and upon, a party or parties who have consented
thereto by submitting a Consent to Electronic Service and Filing form
provided by the Board.

a. One party’s failure to consent to participation in electronic filing
and service shall not bar any other party to the action from filing
documents electronically with the Board, or serving documents
upon any other party who has consented to participation.

Where a party does not have the means to file electronically, the
Board reserves the right to convert paper filings into electronic
form as appropriate.

b. A party who does not have the means to file electronically shall
file documents, and serve and be served with documents, in hard
copy. When an e-filing party serves a document in hard copy on a
nonparticipating party, the document served shall bear full
signatures of all signatories and proof of such service shall be filed
electronically.

c. An Appointing Authority may provide a blanket consent to
electronic filing and service.

(2) Exceptions: Hard copy or paper documents and other submissions may be
manually submitted to the Board:

a. when the Board does not have the ability to accept and retain
documents by electronic filing;

b. when submitting evidentiary exhibits or filing non-documentary
materials, including demonstrative aids for use at hearing;

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RULE FIFTEEN Rule 15

15.6 (Continued)

c. when the filing involves documents in excess of the appropriate
size limitations specified by the County’s Information and
Innovation Office. For such filings, documents may be transmitted
using an electronic storage medium that the Board has the ability
to accept, which may include a CD-ROM, flash drive, or similar
storage medium;

d. when filed as permitted by the Board during a hearing, or pre-
hearing conference;

e. if the Director, upon consultation with the General Counsel,
determines that justice so requires.

15.7 Filing Sensitive Information Minimization:

(1) Limitation for Filings. The following information is designated to be
“sensitive” and filing it with the Board must be limited as follows:
a. A person known to be a minor will be cited only by their initials;
b. A person’s birth date will only include the year of birth;
c. No portion of any of the items listed below may be included:
1. social security number,
3. credit card account number,
4. charge account number, or
5. debit account number;

d. Only the last four digits of the following items should be cited:
1. taxpayer identification number (TIN),
2. employee identification number,
3. driver’s license number,
4. passport number,
5. telephone number,
6. financial account number, except as set forth in paragraph
(1)c,
7. brokerage account number,
8. insurance policy account number,
9. loan account number,
10. customer account number, or
11. patient or health care number;

e. Only a truncated version of any the following items may be cited
1. email address,
2. computer user name,
3. password, or
4. personal identification number (PIN); and

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15.7 (Continued)

f. Only a truncated version of any other sensitive information as
provided by Board order may be cited.

(2) Exceptions: Paragraph (1) does not apply to the following:
a. An account number which identifies the property alleged to be the
subject of a proceeding;

b. The record of an administrative or agency proceeding;

c. The record in appellate or review proceedings;

d. all information necessary for the proper issuance and execution of
a subpoena;

15.8 Accessibility of Information and Technology:

Any document that is or will become a record of the Board, and that is transmitted in an
electronic form, must be formatted in a manner outlined by Section 3.1 of the Florida
Court Standards found at the following link

www.flcourts.org/core/fileparse.php/624/urlt/Updated-E-Access-Standards-November-2016-v17-clean.pdf.

Such documents shall comply with all state and federal laws requiring that electronic
records be accessible to persons with disabilities, including the Americans with
Disabilities Act, and Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as
incorporated into Florida law by section 282.603(1), Florida Statutes (2010), and any
related federal or state regulations or administrative rules.

15.9 Scheduling of Appeal Hearing:

(1) The Board shall make every reasonable effort to hear any timely filed appeal
of demotion or dismissal within 30 working days of receipt of the notice of
appeal, unless an extension of time is requested by the employee or the
Agency Head, or their respective representative. At no time shall the initial
hearing of an appeal of dismissal be delayed beyond sixty (60) calendar
days without the consent of both parties involved, unless otherwise required
by general law. [CSL Section 12(2)]

(2) Requests for appeal hearings involving suspensions shall be scheduled as
soon as possible consistent with other Board matters and priorities. [CSL
Section 12(2)]

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15.9 (Continued)

(3) After an appeal is filed, the Director shall provide notice to all parties of the
time, date, and location of all hearings and pre-hearing proceedings to take
place in an appeal. Such notice shall specify:

a. that any motions for summary judgment must be filed no later than
20 calendar days after the date the appellant filed the Civil Service
Form 5A;

b. the date of the Pre-Hearing Conference, which shall normally be
held within one week after the summary judgment deadline unless a
summary judgment motion is filed; and

c. the date of a hearing before the Board on the appeal which may be
scheduled as early as two weeks after the Pre-Hearing Conference.
The Director shall serve such further notices as may be required.
[CSL Section 12(2)]

d. that any deadline that ends either Saturday, Sunday or Hillsborough
County designated legal holiday, shall be extended until the end of
the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday or Hillsborough
County designated legal holiday.

(4) Any request for extension of deadlines to file a motion or response, or for a
continuance, or rescheduling of a hearing or pre-hearing conference must
be electronically submitted in writing except for a party is an employee who
is self-represented and does not have the means to file electronically. The
request shall include a full justification and must reach the Civil Service
Office by the end of that business day which is five (5) working days prior
to the hearing date, or deadline for submission. All such requests, except
when prepared and signed by counsel or other representative of the party,
must be signed by the appellant or the Agency Head.

a. Continuances and extensions will be granted only upon showing of
good cause. The first request for extension of any deadline, or
continuance, or rescheduling of any hearing or pre-hearing
conference may be granted by the Director. The second request may
be granted by the Board Chairman, or in his or her absence, the
Board Vice-Chairman.

b. Any further request for continuance or rescheduling, or any request
received after the five working days stated above, shall be presented
in person by the appellant, the Agency Head, or their respective
representative, to the Board when it next convenes and the same
shall be granted by the Board only upon a sufficient showing of good
and compelling cause.

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15.10 Abandonment of Right to Appeal:

The appellant, or his/her representative, shall at all times keep the Director informed, in
writing, of his or her current telephone number, email address, and mailing address. It shall
be the responsibility of the appellant, or his/her representative, to inquire of the Director
bi-weekly as to all scheduling matters. Failure to comply with the foregoing may constitute
an abandonment of any further right to appeal.

15.11 Use of Communication Equipment:

(1) Definition. Communication equipment means a conference telephone or
other electronic device that permits all those appearing or participating to
hear and speak to each other, provided that all conversation of all parties is
audible to all persons present.

(2) Use by All Parties. The Board may, upon its own motion or upon the written
request of a party, direct that communication equipment be used for a
hearing, pre-hearing conference, or a status conference. The Board must
give notice to the parties and consider any objections they may have to the
use of communication equipment before directing that communication
equipment be used. The decision to use communication equipment over the
objection of parties will be in the sound discretion of the Board, except as
noted below.

(3) Testimony.

a. Generally. The Board may allow testimony to be taken through
communication equipment if all parties consent or if permitted by
another applicable rule of procedure.

b. Procedure. Any party desiring to present testimony through
communication equipment shall, prior to the hearing at which the
testimony is to be presented, contact all parties to determine
whether each party consents to this form of testimony. The party
seeking to present the testimony shall move for permission to
present testimony through communication equipment, which
motion shall set forth good cause as to why the testimony should
be allowed in this form.

c. Oath. Testimony may be taken through communication equipment
only if a notary public or other person authorized to administer
oaths in the witness’s jurisdiction is present with the witness and
administers the oath consistent with the laws of the jurisdiction.

d. Video Testimony. If the testimony to be presented utilizes video
conferencing or comparable two-way visual capabilities, the Board
in its discretion may modify the procedures set forth in this rule to
accommodate the technology utilized.

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15.11 (Continued)

(4) Burden of Expense. The cost for the use of the communication equipment
is the responsibility of the requesting party unless otherwise directed by the
Board.

(5) When Court Reporting Requested by a Party. A court reporter is required
to be present at all Board meetings and hearings. The Board may provide
a court reporter at any other Board proceeding at its discretion. Where the
Board does not provide a court reporter, a party may request that a court
reporter be present at a proceeding. The party so requesting shall pay the
reporting fees, but this requirement shall not preclude the taxation of costs
as authorized by law.

(6) Record. When hearing proceedings are being reported in a transcript, no
part of the proceedings shall be omitted unless all of the parties agree to do
so and the Board approves the agreement.

(7) Ownership of Records. The Board is the owner of all records and
electronic records made in any proceedings required to be recorded or
reported at its expense, and proceedings reported or recorded for the
Board’s own use.

(8) Fees. Copies of any reports shall be provided and charged in accordance
with the Board’s public records policy.

(9) Transcripts. Transcripts of all proceedings, shall be uniform in all matters
and shall be stored in an electronic format sufficient to communicate the
information contained in proceedings in a readable format, and capable of
being transmitted electronically. Any transcripts stored in electronic form
must be capable of being printed as dictated by Rule 2.530 of the Florida
Rules of Judicial Administration.

(10) Court Reporting Services at the Board’s Expense.

a. When Reporting Is Required. All proceedings required by law,
court rule, or administrative order to be reported shall be reported
at the Board’s expense.

b. When Reporting May Be Required. Proceedings reported for the
Board’s own use may be reported at the Boards expense.

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15.11 (Continued)

(11) Safeguarding Confidential Communications When Electronic Recording
Equipment Is Used:

a. The Director shall provide notice to participants in a Board
proceeding that electronic recording equipment is in use and that
they should safeguard information they do not want recorded.

b. Parties shall take all reasonable and available precautions to protect
against disclosure of confidential communications during recorded
proceedings. Such precautions may include muting microphones or
going to a designated location that is inaccessible to the recording
equipment.

c. Participants have a duty to protect confidential information.

15.12 Motion for Summary Judgment:

(1) Any party may move for summary judgment when it is believed that there
is no genuine issue of material fact; and, that he or she is entitled to prevail
as a matter of law.

(2) The Appointing Authority, or designated representative, may move for a
summary judgment based upon all or any part of the Civil Service Rules, or
the Appointing Authority's operating or administrative rules(s) violations
cited on CS Form 5.

(3) The Appellant, or designated representative, may move for a summary
judgment in that party's favor based upon all of the Civil Service Rules, or
the Appointing Authority's operating or administrative rule(s) violations
cited on CS Form 5.

(4) Unless electronically filed, the original and 10 hard copies of a Motion for
Summary Judgment, including affidavits, must be filed with the Director
and served by hand delivery, or first class mail on the opposing party, or
their designated representative, no later than 20 calendar days from the date
the appellant filed the CS Form 5A.

a. Any request for extension of deadlines or continuance or
rescheduling of a hearing must be submitted in writing with full
justification by the Appellant or Appointing Authority so as to reach
the Civil Service Office by the end of that business day which is no
later than five working days prior to the deadline or hearing date.
All such requests, except when prepared and signed by counsel or
other representative of the party, must be signed by the appellant or
the Agency Head. Such requests may be filed in accordance with
the Board’s electronic filing procedures.

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15.12 (Continued)

b. Where an extension is requested and granted to either party, all
deadlines shall be extended for both parties accordingly.

(5) Motions for Summary Judgment shall comply with the following
requirements:

a. the motion shall state with particularity the grounds upon which the
moving party will rely for summary judgment and the substantial
matters to be argued;

b. all facts argued in support of the motion must be supported by
written testimony as described below in CSR 15. 12(5)(d), by
affidavit(s) or otherwise sworn or certified evidence, stipulation(s),
documents or other admissible evidence. Admissions contained in
CS Form 5 and CS Form 5A may be utilized to support a Motion for
Summary Judgment. Live testimony will not be taken at a hearing
on a Motion for Summary Judgment;

c. any documents supporting the motion must be properly
authenticated;

d. evidence submitted through written testimony shall be under oath or
under penalty of perjury; and, in the form of an affidavit, or
declaration, or a deposition or hearing transcript from other
proceedings; except that testimony offered as an admission by the
opposing party need not be sworn if properly authenticated;

e. evidence should be of the same quality that the Board would admit
at an evidentiary hearing.

(6) If the opposing party desires to file a response, including opposing affidavits
or other evidence, he or she shall file such response with the Director and
serve it on the opposing party, or their designated representative, within
fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt of the Motion for Summary Judgment,
but in no event, no later than five (5) calendar days prior to the scheduled
hearing. A party opposing summary judgment may not rely solely upon the
allegations or assertions of its CS Form 5 or CS Form 5A. A party opposing
summary judgment which disputes any fact offered by the moving party
must offer in its response admissible evidence which controverts such facts.
Any material facts which are uncontroverted or undisputed by competent
evidence as of the date of the hearing may be found to be true by the Board.
Such responses shall be filed in accordance with the Board’s electronic
filing procedures.

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15.12 (Continued)

(7) Affidavits or other testimony shall be made on personal knowledge, shall
set forth such facts as would be admissible in evidence, and shall show
affirmatively that the affiant or witness is competent to testify to the matters
stated therein. Sworn or certified copies of all papers or parts thereof
referred to in an affidavit shall be attached to the affidavit or served
simultaneously with the affidavit.

(8) If it appears from the affidavit(s) of a party opposing the motion, that the
party cannot for reasons stated, present facts essential to support opposition
to the motion by affidavit, the Board may order a continuance to permit
affidavits to be obtained, or may make such other order as is just.

(9) The Board will schedule a hearing to consider oral arguments as soon as
possible consistent with other Board matters. Board Exhibit 1 sets forth the
Board’s authority to conduct the hearing and consists of the termination
status form, the CS Form 5, and the CS Form 5A.

(10) In the event that the party opposing the motion does not file a response and
does not appear at the hearing (either in person or via a chosen
representative), the Board shall dismiss the appeal for lack of prosecution.
The Board Chair may reopen the case if good cause for the lack of
appearance is provided within 30 days of the hearing date.

(11) The party, or designated representative, having introduced the Motion for
Summary Judgment will have fifteen (15) minutes to present oral arguments
to the Board supporting such motion, to include rebuttal.

(12) The party opposing the motion, or designated representative, shall also have
fifteen (15) minutes to present oral arguments to the Board opposing the
motion.

(13) The Board members may ask questions of either party, or their designated
representative, at the conclusion of that party's oral presentation.

(14) The judgment sought shall be rendered if the moving party presents
sufficient evidence that shows that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter
of law. Genuine issues which will preclude the granting of a summary
judgment are issues which can be supported by substantial competent
evidence. The Board shall vote separately on each rule violation for which
a party is pursuing summary judgment. The concurrence of the majority of
the Board members present and voting at the summary judgment hearing
shall be necessary for a summary judgment motion to be granted. Therefore,
in the event of a tied vote, the motion for summary judgment is denied.

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15.12 (Continued)

(15) Should the Appointing Authority prevail on its Motion for Summary
Judgment, the disciplinary action imposed by the Appointing Authority
shall be considered upheld and the appeal dismissed. The decision of the
Board shall constitute a final Agency action.

(16) Should the Board deny the Appointing Authority's or the Appellant's
Motion for Summary Judgment, an evidentiary hearing shall be scheduled
as soon as possible.

(17) Should the Appellant prevail on his or her Motion for Summary Judgment,
the disciplinary action imposed by the Appointing Authority shall be
considered vacated in its entirety and the appellant placed in the same
position that he or she would have been in had the action not been taken.
The scope of relief provided by the Civil Service Board shall be in
accordance with Rules 15. 22and 15.24.

15.13 Subpoena Authority and Powers of the Board:

(1) The Director and/or a member of the Board is authorized to issue subpoenas
to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books,
accounts, records and documents at a final evidentiary hearing. [CSL
Section 12(4)]

(2) The Board, or any member thereof, may administer oaths and compel
testimony. [CSL Section 12(4)]

(3) Persons who disobey an order to testify or a subpoena to appear or produce
evidence, issued by the Board or any member thereof, can be compelled to
obey said order or subpoena through contempt proceedings. The Director
and/or member may initiate contempt proceedings in a court of competent
jurisdiction.

(4) It shall be the responsibility of any party seeking to compel the attendance
of a witness through subpoena to take the following steps:

a. Blank subpoena forms shall be obtained from the Civil Service
Office, shall be completed by the party, and returned to the Civil
Service Office for issuance in accordance with the electronic filing
provisions of this Rule.

b. Upon issuance, the party shall be responsible for obtaining service
of the subpoena by a person over the age of 18 years who is not a
party to the action, including the payment of any compensation for
the service of the subpoena. Service of the subpoena, including
witness fee and expenses, shall be made as provided in general
Florida law.

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15.13 (Continued)

c. The party serving a subpoena shall be responsible for payment of
the witnesses’ fee and expenses as set by general Florida law. CSL
Section 12(4)]

The Board may also compel the attendance through subpoena of a witness or other
person at any hearing or regular Board meeting on its own initiative. In such case, the
Board shall be responsible for all costs of the service of the subpoena, including any
service fees and witness fees, which shall be audited and paid in the same manner as
other expenses. [CSL Section 12(4)]

15.14 Pre-Hearing Conference Requirements:

(1) To facilitate the formal appeal hearing proceedings, the Director shall
coordinate with the parties to schedule a Pre-Hearing Conference with the
General Counsel and provide notice. Such Pre-Hearing Conference shall
normally be scheduled within seven (7) calendar days after the expiration
of the deadline for filing Motions for Summary Judgment and shall be
attended by each party to the appeal hearing, or their designated
representative.

(2) A pre-hearing conference will be continued in matters where a party has
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment.

(3) The failure of either party, or their designated representative, to comply with
the requirements set forth herein shall give the Board cause to continue the
hearing, dismiss the appeal, or to impose other appropriate hearing related
sanctions. Should the hearing be delayed due to the appellant or the
appellant's designated representative's unexcused failure to participate in
the Pre-Hearing Conference, and the Appointing Authority be overturned at
a later date; make whole remedies as defined by CS Rule 15.24 will not
apply to the period from the delayed hearing to the date of the Board's final
decision to uphold the appeal.

(4) In any case in which a Pre-Hearing Conference is scheduled, it shall be the
responsibility of all parties, or their designated representatives, to meet
together no later than six (6) calendar days before the date of the Pre-
Hearing Conference (or at such other time as the Director may direct) in a
good faith effort to:

a. discuss the possibility of a settlement;

b. stipulate to as many facts or issues as possible;

c. examine all exhibits or documents and other items of tangible
evidence to be offered by any party at the hearing and exchange a
list thereof;

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15.14 (Continued)

d. exchange the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all
witnesses who may be called at the hearing; and, to the extent
possible, resolve any scheduling conflicts of such witnesses;

e. determine those issues of fact which are admitted and will require
no proof at the hearing; and, those issues of fact which remain to be
considered by the Board at the hearing; and
f. prepare a Pre-Hearing Statement in accordance with subsection (5)
of this rule.

(5) The Pre-Hearing Statement shall be filed with the Board no later than three
(3) calendar days before the date of the Pre-Hearing Conference, (or at such
other time as the Director may direct) and shall contain:

a. a concise statement of the nature of the action;

b. a brief, general statement of each party’s case;

c .a list of all exhibits to be offered at the hearing with notation of all
objections thereto;

d. a list of all witnesses who may be called at the hearing;

e. a concise statement of those facts which are admitted and will
require no proof at the hearing, together with any reservations
directed to such admissions;

f. a concise statement of those issues of fact which remain to be
litigated (without incorporation by reference to prior pleadings and
memoranda);

g. a list of all motions or other matters which require action by the
Board; and

h. the signature of each party, or their designated representatives.

(6) The Director may dispense with the requirement to hold a Pre-Hearing
Conference in cases where the parties, or their designated representatives,
timely submit a Pre-Hearing Statement in compliance with CSR 15.14 4(5)
(Items a through h) or pending the outcome of a Motion for Summary
Judgment.

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15.14 (Continued)

(7) The General Counsel shall address all preliminary, non-dispositive motions
and make evidentiary rulings on any objections designated in the Pre-
Hearing Statement to the exhibits, documents, or other documentary
evidence offered by either party, either at the Pre-Hearing Conference or
thereafter or, if the requirement to hold a Pre-Hearing Conference has been
vacated, in a pre-hearing order prior to the day of the evidentiary hearing.
The General Counsel shall also set the amount of time in which the hearing
in the case may be tried. The time allotted to hear appeals of suspensions
will be 45 minutes per side. The time allotted to hear appeals of demotions
or terminations will be 60 minutes per side. If either party shows good
cause, the Board Chairman may increase these time limits. Any rulings
made by the General Counsel at the Pre-Hearing Conference or thereafter
may be appealed to the Board at the time of the appeal hearing.

(8) The Pre-Hearing Statement and the pre-hearing order, if any, will control
the course of the hearing and may not be amended except by order of the
Board in the furtherance of justice. If new evidence or witnesses are
discovered after filing of the Pre-Hearing Statement, the party desiring to
call the same shall immediately notify all other parties, or their designated
representatives, and the Director, and such use shall be permitted only by
order of the Board in the furtherance of justice.

15.15 Marking and Listing of Exhibits:

(1) Each party, or their designated representative, shall properly mark all
exhibits proposed to be offered into evidence at the appeal hearing
proceedings. Exhibits, whether or not stipulated into evidence, shall be
prepared and submitted as follows:

a. Stipulated Exhibits:

1. Each exhibit shall be marked and tabbed separately (i.e. Joint
Exhibit 1, Joint Exhibit 2, etc.)

2. An indexed list of such exhibits, with a descriptive notation
sufficient to identify each separate number exhibit shall be
included.

3. All exhibits and the index shall be combined into an
electronic binder or, if not filed electronically, shall be
fastened in a folder, along with a memorandum signed by
each party, or their designated representative, signifying
agreement to the offering of such documents.

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15.15 (Continued)

b. Unstipulated Exhibits:

1. Each exhibit shall be marked and tabbed separately (i.e.
Appointing Authority Exhibit 1, Appointing Authority
Exhibit 2, etc, or Appellant Exhibit 1, Appellant Exhibit 2,
etc, as applicable.)

2. An indexed list of such exhibits, with a descriptive notation
sufficient to identify each separately numbered exhibit shall
be included.

3. All exhibits and the index shall be combined into an
electronic binder or, if not filed electronically, shall be
fastened in a folder.

(2) Pre-Hearing Conference: Unless electronically filed, each party, or their
designated representative, shall furnish a hard copy of the stipulated
exhibits to the opposing party, or their designated representative, and ten
(10) hard copies to the Board's Clerk, no later than five (5) calendar days
prior to the hearing date, or the date set at the Pre-Hearing Conference.

(3) Hearing Before the Board: Unless electronically filed, each party, or their
designated representative, shall furnish the opposing party, or their
designated representative, a hard copy of those exhibits which have not been
stipulated, not later than five (5) calendar days prior to the hearing, and shall
furnish ten (10) hard copies to the Board's Clerk at the commencement of
the hearing.

15.16 Findings of Fact:

Each party may electronically submit proposed findings of fact to the Director not later
than the commencement of the appeal hearing. Self-represented employees who do not
have the means to electronically file, may submit proposed findings by hard copy. These
may be utilized in the drafting of findings of fact, and will not be distributed to the Board
prior to the hearing.

15.17 Board Composition During Appeal Hearings:

(1) The Chair or Vice Chair, and General Counsel will be present at appeal
hearings. In the absence of both the Chair and the Vice Chair, the most
senior member of the Board present shall assume the role of Chair.
However, in no case shall a hearing proceed in the absence of the General
Counsel.

(2) The concurrence of the majority of the Board members present and voting
at such hearings shall be necessary for any action to be taken.

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15.18 Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities:

(1) Reasonable Accommodation: Qualified individuals with a disability will
be provided, at the Board’s expense, with reasonable accommodations,
modifications to rules, policies, or practices, or the provision of auxiliary
aids and services, necessary to participate in appeal process provided by
the Board. A request will be considered in accordance with paragraph (e)
below.

(2) Definitions: The definitions encompassed in the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., are
incorporated into this rule.

(3) Notice Requirement:

a. All notices of Board proceedings to be held in a public facility, and
all process compelling appearance at such proceedings, shall
include the following statement in bold face, 14-point Times New
Roman or Courier font:

“If you are a person with a disability who needs any
accommodation in order to participate in this
proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to
the provision of certain assistance. Please contact
[identify applicable staff by name, address, and
telephone number] at least 7 days before your
scheduled appearance, or immediately upon receiving
this notification if the time before the scheduled
appearance is less than 7 days; if you are hearing
or voice impaired, call 711.”

(4) Process for Requesting Accommodations: The process for requesting
accommodations is as follows:

a. Requests for accommodations under this rule may be presented on
a form approved or substantially similar to one approved by the
Board, in another written format, or orally. Requests must be
forwarded to the designated staff person, within the time frame
provided in paragraph (4)c.

b. Requests for accommodations must include a description of the
accommodation sought, along with a statement of the impairment
that necessitates the accommodation and the duration that the
accommodation is to be provided. The Board, in its discretion, may
require the individual with a disability to provide additional
information about the impairment. Requests for accommodation
shall not include any information regarding the merits of the case.
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15.18 (Continued)

c. Requests for accommodations must be made at least 7 days before
the scheduled appearance, or immediately upon receiving
notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than
7 days. The Board may, in its discretion, waive this requirement.

(5) The Director must respond to a request for accommodation as follows:

a. The Director must consider, but is not limited by, the provisions of
the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, in
determining whether to provide an accommodation or an
appropriate alternative accommodation.

b. The Director must inform the individual with a disability of the
following:

1. That the request for accommodation is granted or denied, in
whole or in part, and if the request for accommodation is
denied, the reason therefor; or that an alternative
accommodation is granted;
2. The nature of the accommodation to be provided, if any;
and
3. The duration of the accommodation to be provided.

c. If the request for accommodation is granted in its entirety, the
Director shall respond to the individual with a disability by any
appropriate method. If the request is denied or granted only in part,
or if an alternative accommodation is granted, the Director must
respond to the individual with a disability in writing, as may be
appropriate, and if applicable, in an alternative format.

d. If the Director determines that a person is a qualified person with a
disability and an accommodation is needed, a request for
accommodation may be denied only when the Board determines
that the requested accommodation would create an undue financial
or administrative burden on the Board or would fundamentally
alter the nature of the proceedings.

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15.19 Evidentiary Hearing Procedures:

(1) Evidentiary hearings conducted by the Board under Civil Service Rule 14
or Civil Service Rule 15 shall comply with Florida open-meeting law.

(2) For guidance of the parties, evidentiary hearings ordinarily proceed in the
following sequence unless otherwise stipulated by the parties; or upon the
determination of the General Counsel or the Board it appears that a different
procedure or deviation from this procedure, shall be appropriate:

a. The Board shall address any preliminary matters including motions
in limine, motions to sequester witnesses, or other procedural or
substantive matters which should be addressed before introduction
of the evidence.

b. Witnesses shall be identified and sworn.

c. Each party may make an opening statement. Opening statements are
not evidence and are not designed for argument of the case. Rather,
the opening statement provides the parties an opportunity to inform
the Board of the facts that the party believes will be shown by the
evidence as they relate to the alleged violation(s) of Civil Service
Rules(s) or Agency policy(ies) and/or procedure(s). The party
bearing the burden of proof shall proceed first.

d. The party bearing the burden of proof shall proceed with its case by
calling witnesses and introducing documentary or other evidence.
Subsequently, the responding party shall proceed with his or her
case. The party bearing the burden of proof, upon cause shown, may
be allowed limited rebuttal. Surrebuttal shall not be permitted except
when the interests of justice so require.

e. Each witness called by any party may be cross-examined by the
opposing party. Re-direct examination shall be permitted. Re-cross
examination shall be permitted only upon good cause. At the
conclusion of examination by the parties, the Board shall have the
opportunity to inquire of the witness.

f. After the conclusion of the evidence, each party shall have the
opportunity to present closing argument. Closing argument is not
evidence, but is designed to inform the Board of each party's
position as to the facts demonstrated by the evidence and whether or
not the alleged violation(s) of Civil Service Rules(s) or Agency
policy(ies) and/or procedures(s) have been proven.

g. After closing argument, the Board shall conduct its deliberations in
open meeting. The Board shall vote separately on each alleged Civil
Service Rule violation.

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15.20 Burden of Proof:

(1) It is the responsibility of the Appellant or designated representative to prove
by a preponderance of the evidence that the Agency lacked just cause for
imposing discipline. A "preponderance of the evidence" simply means that
amount of evidence which is enough to persuade the Board that the facts
asserted by the Appellant, or designated representative, are more likely true
than not true and that those facts do not support the Agency’s allegations
that the Appellant’s conduct constitutes a violation of the Civil Service
Rules identified on the formal notice of discipline (CS Form 5).

(2) In deciding whether any fact has been proven by a preponderance of the
evidence, a Board member may consider the testimony of all witnesses,
regardless of who may have called them, and all exhibits received in
evidence, regardless of who may have introduced them.

(3) In all Board hearings, including hearings to consider motions of any type
made by either party, the moving party must prevail by a majority of the
Board members present and voting. In the case of an appeal or grievance
hearing, the appellant is the moving party. In the case of a hearing to
consider a motion for summary judgment or other motion, the party filing
the motion is the moving party. In the event of a tie vote, the moving party
shall not prevail.

15.21 Fact Finding, Evidence, Testimony, and Credibility of Witnesses:

(1) The Board, acting in its quasi-judicial capacity during such hearings, must
initially make a determination about those facts which are relevant to the
ultimate issue before the Board. Where those facts are not in dispute, the
Board is entitled to accept and rely upon the undisputed facts as its own.
Where those facts are in dispute, the Board must resolve the factual disputes
created either by testimony or by documentary evidence.

(2) In resolving factual disputes, the Board should consider only the evidence
that is properly before it, that is, the testimony of the witnesses, and the
exhibits admitted in the record. However, as the Board considers the
evidence, both direct and circumstantial, it may make deductions,
inferences, and reach conclusions which reason and common sense lead it
to make.

(3) “Direct evidence” is the testimony of one who asserts actual knowledge of
a fact, such as an eyewitness. "Circumstantial evidence" is proof of a chain
of facts and circumstances tending to prove, or disprove, an ultimate
conclusion. Nothing the Appointing Authority’s representative, or the
appellant’s representative says is evidence in the case, nor is anything said
in the opening statements, the closing arguments, or objections, whether
stated by lawyers or by parties representing themselves. It is the Board's
own recollection and interpretation of the evidence that controls its
decision.

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15.21 (Continued)

(4) All testimony shall be under oath. Irrelevant, immaterial or unduly
repetitious evidence shall be excluded. All other evidence of the type
commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent persons in the conduct of their
affairs shall be admissible, whether or not such evidence would be
admissible in the courts of Florida. Hearsay evidence may be introduced
and used for supplementing or explaining other evidence, but it shall not be
sufficient in itself to support a finding by the Board unless it would be
admissible over objections in a civil action. [CSL Section 12 (3)(4)]

(5) The fact that the Civil Service Board must consider all of the evidence does
not mean that the Board must accept all of the evidence as true or accurate.
Each Board member should determine the credibility of each witness'
testimony and the relative importance of that testimony. In making that
decision, a Board member may believe or disbelieve any witness, in whole
or in part. The credibility of the evidence, and not the number of witnesses
testifying concerning any particular fact in dispute, is controlling.

15.22 Modification or Reduction of Disciplinary Actions Impermissible:

(1) It is not part of the Board's function to determine whether the degree or type
of action is appropriate. Therefore, the Board may not reduce, increase or
otherwise modify the action imposed upon the appellant by the Agency
Head. If the conduct which is proven establishes a violation of at least one
of the Civil Service Rules, the action taken must be upheld in its entirety. If
the conduct which is proven does not establish a violation of the Civil
Service Rules, or if the action taken is found not to be for just cause, the
action must be vacated in its entirety and the appellant placed in the same
position that he or she would have been in had the action not been taken.

(2) In determining whether or not the conduct which is proven supports the
action of the Agency Head, the Board shall consider each alleged violation
cited on Civil Service Form 5.

(3) In cases where the appellant does not contest the cited violations of the Civil
Service Rules or Law, or the Agency's operational or administrative rules
and procedures; and, when it becomes apparent that the only relief sought
is to reduce the discipline imposed, the Board may dismiss the appeal upon
filing of an appropriate motion.

15.23 Final Order of the Board:

(1) Within ten (10) calendar days of the conclusion of the appeal hearing, the
Director or a member of the Board shall issue a Final Order to the affected
parties, setting forth its findings, conclusions, and the reasons therefore. The
ten day period begins on the day following the conclusion of the appeal
hearing. [CSL Section 11(5)]

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15.23 (Continued)

(2) Except as otherwise provided in CS Rule 15.25 below, the decision(s) of
the Board in any appeal hearing shall be considered final and binding on all
affected parties subject to review pursuant to the Florida Rules of Appellate
Procedure.

15.24 Remedies:

(1) Except as provided in CS Rule 15.25 below or as otherwise provided in
these rules, a prevailing appellant in an appeal hearing will be entitled to be
made whole from any adverse effects of the action imposed. The scope of
relief may include; but, may not be limited to:
a. Back pay.
b. Reinstatement of lost benefits.
c. Reinstatement to fringe benefit plans.
d. Retroactive seniority.

(2) In determining relief, the Board may take into account mitigating factors
such as interim earnings and fringe benefits received, good faith efforts to
secure alternative employment, and the reasonableness of request for
continuance of hearing dates, and other equitable factors recognized under
applicable precedent.

(3) Attorney fees and cost of litigation will not be recoverable by either party
to an appeal.

15.25 Administrative Office of the Courts - Hearing to Review Actions of Dismissal,
Involuntary Demotion for Cause, or Suspension:

(1) Any employee holding a position within the Administrative Office of the
Courts (Court Administrator) which was classified as of January 1, 1998,
and which was funded by Hillsborough County Board of County
Commissioners, may request a hearing to review a dismissal, involuntary
demotion for cause, or suspension. Such a request shall be made as
otherwise provided in these rules.

(2) The practice and procedure of the Board with respect to a review shall be in
accordance with adopted Civil Service Rules. If the Board finds that such
Court employee's dismissal, involuntary demotion for cause, or suspension
was for a reason other than just cause, it may recommend to the Chief Judge
that such employee be restored to that employee's former status. Such
recommendation is not binding on the Chief Judge.

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15.26 Ex Parte Communications:

Members of the Civil Service Board sit as a quasi-judicial body during hearings held to
consider an appeal of a disciplinary action affecting the substantial interests of an
employee. In this capacity a Board member may not receive an ex parte communication
from an affected party. Ex parte communication occurs when a Board member
communicates with one party to an appeal to the exclusion of the other party or parties, or
when a Board member initiates discussions about a case with third parties. Under generally
accepted legal principles Board members are prohibited from consulting any person, or
party on any fact in issue unless upon notice and opportunity to all parties in the proceeding.

15.27 Forms:

Forms cited in this Rule are available at www.hccsb.org

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