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BREVARD COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

Report of Investigation
August 31, 2017

Table of Contents

I. Introduction and Scope


II. Methodology
III. Background
IV. Allegations and Interviews
V. Investigative Findings
VI. Legal Analysis
VII. Conclusion
VIII. Recommendations
IX. Statement of Completion

I. Introduction and Scope

Sniffen & Spellman, P.A. (“the Firm”) issues this Report following its investigation, initiated at
the request of the Brevard County School District (“District”). Specifically, Superintendent,
Desmond Blackburn, Ph.D., advised the Firm of complaints he received from a District
employee of alleged statements and conduct by Andy Ziegler, an elected member of the Brevard
County School Board (“Board”). Dr. Blackburn asked the Firm to investigate the allegations and
determine whether any District policy or state or federal law had been violated. Dr. Blackburn
was clear that he expected no particular outcome and that the methodology and manner of the
investigation would be left to our Firm’s discretion.

The primary Complainant, referred to as Ms. A, is a female employee of the District. Ms. A
alleged Mr. Ziegler sexually harassed her through specific, isolated actions and statements, more
fully described below. Ms. A also relayed to Dr. Blackburn internal complaints she received
from another female District employee about Mr. Ziegler, referred to herein as Ms. B. As
detailed below, the Firm gathered information regarding and directly from Ms. B during this
investigation. As more fully detailed below, the information learned from Ms. B does not form
the basis of any finding or opinion in this Report.

II. Methodology

The Firm employed standard investigative practices for this investigation. The Firm did not need
or utilize any external third parties for any forensic examination, data recovery or any other
reason.
The Firm conducted detailed interviews with several individuals, including Ms. A, Ms. B, and
Mr. Ziegler. Prior to each interview, the Firm informed the witness about the nature of this
investigation and that any facts, testimony, and documents provided in the interview might be
disclosed in this Report.

The findings contained in this Report are based on witness interviews and documents provided
by the District.

III. Background

The District employs approximately 9,000 individuals, including faculty and staff, which work
throughout the District’s 82 schools, 20 special centers, and 10 charter schools. Headquartered in
Viera, Florida, the District serves over 73,000 students annually. The Board is comprised of five
school board members, elected from specific geographic districts. Mr. Ziegler has represented
District 5 since 2008.

The following District policies were relevant to the Firm’s review:

3362 – HARRASSMENT AND NON-DISCRIMINATION PROCEDURES

Brevard County Public Schools shall comply with all Federal laws and regulations
prohibiting discrimination and with all the requirements and regulations of the U.S.
Department of Education. It is the policy of the Board that no employee or candidate for
position in this District shall, on the basis of…gender, marital status…or other legally-
protected characteristic be discriminated against, excluded from participation in, denied the
benefits of, or otherwise subjected to, discrimination in any program or activity for which
the District is responsible or for which it receives financial assistance from the U.S.
Department of Education.

The District recognizes that employees have the right to work in an environment untainted
by sexual or other forms of harassment or discrimination. Offensive conduct which has the
purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with work performance or creating an
intimidating, hostile, discriminatory or offensive educational environment disrupts the
educational process and impedes the legitimate pedagogical concerns of the District. Sexual
and other forms of harassment will not be tolerated.

Sexual harassment includes all unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and
verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature whenever submission to such conduct is made a
condition of employment or a basis for an employment decision. … Other prohibited
harassment includes conduct that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating,
hostile, discriminatory, or offensive education environment on the basis of gender…marital
status, and/or any other legally protected characteristic.

The harassment of a staff member or student of this District, or third party (visiting speaker,
athletic team member, volunteer, parent, etc.) is strictly forbidden….

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Discrimination includes:

Any slurs, innuendoes, or other verbal or physical conduct reflecting on an


individual’s…sex [or] … marital status…which has the purpose or effect of
creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational or work environment;
has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s work or
school performance or participation; or otherwise adversely affects an
individual’s employment or educational opportunities.

Sexual harassment includes:

A. The denial of or provision of aid, benefits, grades, rewards, employment,


faculty assistance, services or treatment on the basis of sexual advances or
requests for sexual favors.

B. Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical
conduct of a sexual nature when:

1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a


term or condition of an individual’s employment or educational
career;

2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for


educational or employment decisions affecting the individual; or,

3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering


with an individual’s work or educational performance or creating
an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational
environment.

3210 – STANDARDS OF ETHICAL CONDUCT1

Members of the Board, administrators, teachers, and all other employees of the District,
regardless of their position, collective bargaining status or role, because of their dual roles as
public servants and educators are bound by the same ethics policy. The District’s policy is
designed to create a culture of honesty and integrity that will help the District meet the goal
of providing a safe environment and high quality education to all of the Districts’ students.

…It is the responsibility of all individuals associated with the District to act in a manner that
will ensure the public’s trust as well as the trust of colleagues and peers. Adherence to the
provisions of a comprehensive ethics policy will model the highest standards of integrity
and the character traits the District seeks to instill in our students.

***

1
Although several parts of this particular provision explicitly state that the ethics policy controls the conduct for
“all instructional staff, ” to the extent there is broad language within the policy its provisions remain relevant.

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Employees shall not corruptly use, or attempt to use, their official position or any property
or resources of the District or perform their duties in such a manner to secure a special
privilege, benefit, or exemption for themselves or others.

Regardless of whether Board Members are bound by the above-cited policies, the law is clear
that an employer can be held liable for harassment of its employees by non-employees such as
vendors, customers, or even elected officials. Thus, although Mr. Ziegler was not an employee
at all material times, the District could still be liable under state and federal law if his conduct
rose to the level of unlawful harassment. 29 C.F.R. §1604.11(e)(“An employer may also be
responsible for the acts of non-employees, with respect to sexual harassment of employees in the
workplace…”); Bruno v. Monroe County, 383 Fed. Appx. 845 (11th Cir. 2010)(county could be
liable for Mayor’s actions); Beckford v. Department of Corr., 605 F.3d 951, 957-58 (11th Cir.
2010); Watson v. Blue Circle, Inc., 324 F.3d 1252, 1258 n.2 (11th Cir. 2003); see also, Frank v.
Harris County, 118 Fed. Appx. 799, 803 (5th Cir. 2004).

IV. Allegations and Interviews

The following information was related to us by the witnesses indicated:

Ms. A

Ms. A began to feel uncomfortable around Mr. Ziegler in early August 2016. Although Ms. A
had met and worked with Mr. Ziegler several times earlier, on this particular occasion she felt
uncomfortable when Mr. Ziegler invited her to join him at a social event hosted by friends of Mr.
Ziegler who lived in the same condominium complex as Ms. A. Ms. A did not know these
neighbors and told Mr. Ziegler she had not been invited by them. The next day Ms. A received
an invitation via email from the neighbors. Ms. A declined the invitation, asserting she had
guests in town.

At approximately 8pm on the night of the party, August 13, 2016, Mr. Ziegler appeared at Ms.
A’s condominium and rang her doorbell. Ms. A saw Mr. Ziegler through her peephole but did
not answer. Approximately 10 minutes later, Mr. Ziegler rang the doorbell a second time. Ms. A
again did not answer the door. Ms. A never invited Mr. Ziegler to her condominium or intimated
that she had any interest in meeting him outside of work for any reason.

The following Monday, Mr. Ziegler dropped by Ms. A’s office for no specific reason. At the
time, Ms. A was meeting with a male coworker. Mr. Ziegler mentioned his attempt to visit her in
the presence of this coworker, which made Ms. A feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Later that week, Ms. A attended a Leadership Brevard reception, which was also attended by Mr.
Ziegler and a number of other District employees. There, Ms. A was with a group of three other
female District employees, when Mr. Ziegler approached. According to Ms. A, Mr. Ziegler put
his hand on the small of her back, but shook hands with the other women. In the presence of the
group, Mr. Ziegler referenced being at Ms. A’s residence a couple of nights earlier. Mr. Ziegler
also commented about Ms. A being single and living in Cocoa Beach; and commented that he

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wanted to see pictures of Ms. A. Ms. A felt awkward and uncomfortable in front of her
coworkers and attempted to shift the conversation.

That night, Mr. Ziegler appeared at a roundtable event, which Dr. Blackburn also attended. Ms.
A does not allege Mr. Ziegler made any comment or took any inappropriate action at this event.

On September 8, Ms. A attended a meeting at which Mr. Ziegler was also present. During the
meeting, Mr. Ziegler approached Ms. A and asked her to follow him to the foyer area. Once
there, Mr. Ziegler told Ms. A he liked her car, and he wanted her to take him for a ride in it. Mr.
Ziegler did not discuss anything else with Ms. A at the meeting.

On January 17, 2017, Ms. A attended a leadership program meeting at Eau Gallie High School,
at which Mr. Ziegler was also present. As he was leaving the meeting, Mr. Ziegler approached
Ms. A, put his hand on the small of her back, ran his hand up her back and said, “Have a good
night.” The manner in which the comment was made in combination with the touching made Ms.
A feel uncomfortable.

Ms. B

In February 2017, Ms. A learned from a coworker that another female District employee,
referred to as Ms. B, allegedly felt uncomfortable after Mr. Ziegler made certain statements to
her. Specifically, this coworker related to Ms. A that at a Christmas party, Ms. B spilled water or
some other liquid on her blouse, and Mr. Ziegler made a comment about Ms. B’s breasts.

Ms. A met with Ms. B to corroborate what Ms. A learned from her coworker. Ms. B was nervous
about sharing details with Ms. A, and mentioned she needed to discuss the incident (and
presumably whether to share or complain about it) with her husband. Within a couple days, Ms.
B told Ms. A that Ms. B’s husband “supported” her. According to Ms. A, Ms. B alleged
generally that Mr. Ziegler made comments to Ms. B about her appearance or figure. She also
relayed to Ms. A that Mr. Ziegler made a comment about Ms. B’s attraction to “married men” in
the context that had he (Mr. Ziegler) known that Ms. B was “into married men” he would “have
made more of an effort” towards Ms. B.

The Firm met with and attempted to interview Ms. B about Mr. Ziegler’s statements. Ms. B
confirmed she felt uncomfortable around Mr. Ziegler because of statements he made on at least
two separate occasions; however, Ms. B would not provide any details of the content or context
of any statements2. In addition, Ms. B made clear she did not wish to be named as a complainant
in this investigation, and did not want to pursue any complaint or investigative process.

Miscellaneous

During the investigation, we learned about other, previously unreported concerns from current
and former female District employees who provided general and largely anecdotal descriptions
of behavior by Mr. Ziegler, including: he invaded personal space and/or positioned himself too

2
In an independent interview with Ms. B’s husband, he confirmed that his wife was upset about a statement Mr.
Ziegler made to her at a social event, although the husband claimed he never learned the substance of the statement.

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physically close to female employees; he invited female employees to lunch, for coffee, or to
spend time outside of Board or District functions; he discussed personal matters; he made
unnecessary physical contact, such as touching a hand or a shoulder3; and very general
statements about feeling uncomfortable around him. None of these other women who raised
these issues during the investigation had raised a concern or complaint with District officials at
or around the time these actions or statements took place. The vast majority of these alleged
incidents were unwitnessed, and could not be corroborated.

Mr. Ziegler

Mr. Ziegler voluntarily appeared for an interview and answered all questions asked of him. He
presented as not having “the foggiest idea” of the nature of the allegations lodged against him or
from whom they originated. In an effort to preserve anonymity, the Firm did not advise Mr.
Ziegler of the identity of any current or former female District employees who had either lodged
a formal complaint or who provided general allegations about Mr. Ziegler’s statements and/or
actions.

Mr. Ziegler does not regularly interact with many female District employees. He has only
socially interacted with female District employees at events in the community. Mr. Ziegler stated
there were very few female District employees with whom he had ever been alone. The Firm
asked Mr. Ziegler to characterize his relationship with several specific female District
employees. For the vast majority of the women we identified, and specifically as to Ms. A, Mr.
Ziegler described his relationship as solely “professional.” Mr. Ziegler described a small
minority of the women as current or former friends. He specifically denied ever asking a female
District employee to meet for drinks or happy hour, coffee, a ride in a car, to go to a social event
or party outside of work, a motorcycle ride, or the gym. Mr. Ziegler stated that with a few of the
female District employees with whom he shared a “professional” relationship, the only
convenient time to meet was lunch.

Mr. Ziegler’s ordinary course is to shake hands with individuals with whom he interacts in
public. He will reciprocate a hug if an individual initiates one, but he ordinarily closes his fists to
avoid ambiguity. Mr. Ziegler stated it is possible he initiated a hug when he should not have with
either females or males at events where people are interacting, such as Chamber of Commerce
events. He also admitted he may put his arm around an individual if he is attempting to show
feelings of pride or friendship. In addition, Mr. Ziegler advised that no female District employee
had rejected his attempt to hug or put his arm around her. He denied touching any female District
employee on the small of her back, or running his hand up or down an employee’s back.

Mr. Ziegler denied ever making any comments about a female District employee’s body in
general, or, more specifically, a female District employee’s breasts, attractiveness, sexiness, or
attraction to types of men. He also denied having ever been told, or hearing from any source, that
a female District employee felt harassed by him, or that he was inappropriate in any way.

3
One former employee alleged Mr. Ziegler tried to kiss her. However, this woman confirmed that this action took
place at least three years ago, and prior to our interview she had never complained or attempted to bring this matter
to the District’s attention.

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Mr. Ziegler has never been to a female District employee’s home uninvited. He did, however,
once stop at a female District employee’s home after she advised him she lived in the same
condominium complex as one of his friends. Mr. Ziegler understood his friend met the employee
and invited her over on the same night he invited Mr. Ziegler. When she did not appear at the
friend’s function, Mr. Ziegler rang the employee’s doorbell.

V. Investigative Findings

Home Visit

Mr. Ziegler showed up uninvited at Ms. A’s home on a weekend night. On that same night, Mr.
Ziegler attended a social function at the home of a friend. Without question, Mr. Ziegler knew
Ms. A lived in the same complex. The undisputed facts indicate Mr. Ziegler rang the doorbell at
a reasonable hour and Ms. A refused to answer her door. While it is unclear whether Mr. Ziegler
rang the doorbell once or twice, there is no evidence or allegations that Mr. Ziegler acted in any
unreasonable manner in ringing Ms. A’s doorbell. For example, there are no allegations that Mr.
Ziegler was yelling, banging or kicking the door, or acting in an inappropriate or belligerent
manner. In addition, Mr. Ziegler’s explanation for ringing the doorbell – that he knew this
employee lived in the same complex as his friends hosting the social event – is both reasonable
and innocuous.

How Mr. Ziegler learned Ms. A lived in the same complex as his friends or what prompted the
friends to invite Ms. A to the social function are not pertinent to whether Mr. Ziegler’s
appearance at Ms. A’s home was inappropriate or constituted unlawful harassment.

Related Comment

Ms. A alleged Mr. Ziegler referenced his attempt to visit her at home on two separate occasions
in public, which she claims made her uncomfortable. A witness who was in Ms. A’s office on the
Monday following the incident recalled Mr. Ziegler coming by Ms. A’s office and making a
comment which was personal in nature and which the witness observed made Ms. A appear
uncomfortable; however, the witness could not recall the substance of the comment. No other
witnesses recalled Mr. Ziegler making any comments related to this incident. Based on the
corroborating witness, it can be reasonably concluded that on one occasion Mr. Ziegler made a
comment of a personal nature to Ms. A in her office, which made Ms. A feel awkward.

Inappropriate Touching

Ms. A alleged that on two specific occasions Mr. Ziegler inappropriately touched her in public.
On the first occasion, which took place on August 18, Ms. A alleged Mr. Ziegler put his hand on
the small of her back, even though he shook other individuals’ hands. A witness who was in the
group talking with Ms. A when Mr. Ziegler approached corroborated Ms. A’s description of the
event. Specifically, this witness stated that Mr. Ziegler put his hand on Ms. A’s lower back “like
a spouse would.” This witness thought the touching was inappropriate, and observed Ms. A’s
uncomfortable reaction to it.

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On the second occasion, in January of 2017, Ms. A alleged Mr. Ziegler ran his hand down her
back when saying goodnight. No witness could corroborate this allegation.

Mr. Ziegler denied inappropriately touching any female District employee; he did state, however,
that he may have inadvertently “hugged” someone in a large setting, although he did not appear
to have any specific recollection of such an incident.

Based on our interviews, it can be reasonably concluded that on one occasion Mr. Ziegler put his
hand on the small of Ms. A’s back, which caused Ms. A to feel uncomfortable.

VI. Legal Analysis

The form of sexual harassment at issue is referred to as a hostile work environment, and requires
an employee show a number of criteria, the most important of which is that the harassment was
sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of employment and create a
discriminatorily abusive working environment. Gupta v. Florida Board of Regents, 212 F.3d
571, 581 (11th Cir. 2000); Mendoza v. Borden, 195 F.3d 1238, 1245 (11th Cir. 1999) (citing
Henson v. City of Dundee, 682 F.2d 897, 903-905 (11th Cir. 1982)). This element requires a
complaining party to establish that she subjectively perceived the environment as hostile and
abusive, but also that “a reasonable person would perceive the environment as hostile and
abusive.” Mendoza, at 1246. As such, the test contains both a subjective and an objective
component.

Harassment is considered “subjectively offensive” when the alleged victim perceives the
harassment to be hostile or abusive. To find conduct “objectively offensive” requires reviewing
how courts have assessed similar conduct in the workplace. Importantly, “not all offensive
conduct in the workplace is actionable as sexual harassment.” Colon v. Environmental
Technologies, Inc., 184 F. Supp. 2d 210, 219 (M.D. Fla. 2001) (citing Oncale v. Sundowner
Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U.S. 75, 81 (1998)).

As stated above, our investigation concluded that Mr. Ziegler:

1) appeared uninvited at Ms. A’s home on a weekend night, but did not
otherwise act in any unreasonable or inappropriate manner;

2) made a comment of a personal nature to Ms. A in the presence of a


male coworker which made Ms. A feel uncomfortable on one occasion;
and

3) touched the small of Ms. A’s back in an intimate manner on one


occasion.

This conduct viewed individually or in its totality does not rise to the level of “severe” or
“pervasive” behavior which is considered unlawful. See, e.g., Otu v. Papa John's USA, Inc., 400
F. Supp. 2d 1315, 1327–28 (N.D. Ga. 2005)(attempting to hug and kiss plaintiff, brushing her
breasts against plaintiff's back, attempting to “rub his private parts,” and unbuttoning her blouse

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were not severe or pervasive); Mendoza, 195 F.3d at 1248-1250 (finding insufficiently severe
and pervasive one instance in which harasser said to plaintiff, “I’m getting fired up,” one
occasion in which harasser rubbed his hip against plaintiff’s hip while touching her shoulder and
smiling, two instances in which harasser made a “sniffing” sound while looking at plaintiff’s
groin area and one instance of “sniffing” without looking at her groin, and harasser’s “constant”
following and staring of the plaintiff in a “very obvious fashion”); Gupta, 212 F.3d at 584-86
(holding that touching the inside of plaintiff’s thighs, touching plaintiff’s hand, and lifting
plaintiff’s dress hem not severe and pervasive conduct).4

VII. Conclusion

Based on our investigation and the legal standard, we conclude that there is insufficient evidence
to find Mr. Ziegler acted in a sexually harassing manner towards Ms. A or acted in derogation of
any District policy or state or federal law.

VIII. Recommendations

In addition to the conclusion made above, we offer the following recommendations based on the
information obtained during the investigation. In making these recommendations, we do not
criticize current processes or infer that they are deficient.

4
See also, Black v. Zaring Homes, Inc., 104 F.3d 822, 823-24 (6th Cir. 1997) (finding conduct insufficiently severe
or pervasive to state actionable claim, where conduct over a four-month period involved repeated sexual jokes; one
occasion of looking plaintiff up and down, smiling and stating, there’s “nothing I like more in the morning than
sticky buns”; suggesting land area be named “Titsville” or “Twin Peaks”; asking plaintiff, “Say, weren’t you there
[at a biker bar] Saturday night dancing on the tables?”; stating, “Just get the broad to sign it”; telling plaintiff she
was “paid great money for a woman”; laughing when plaintiff mentioned the name of Dr. Paul Busam, apparently
pronounced as “bosom”); Hockman v. Westward Commc'ns, LLC, 407 F.3d 317, 327 (5th Cir.2004) (one instance
of grabbing or brushing plaintiff's breasts and buttocks, slapping plaintiff on buttocks with newspaper, trying to kiss
her, and commenting on another employee's body over one and a half year period not severe conduct); Meriwether
v. Caraustar Packaging Co., 326 F.3d 990, 992, 993 (8th Cir.2003) (grabbing plaintiff's buttock “with force” not
actionable); Adusumilli v. City of Chicago, 164 F.3d 353, 361–62 (7th Cir.1998) (four isolated instances in which a
co-worker touched the plaintiff's arm, fingers or buttocks not actionable); Otu v. Papa John's USA, Inc., 400
F.Supp.2d 1315, 1327–28 (N.D.Ga.2005)(attempting to hug and kiss plaintiff, brushing her breasts against plaintiff's
back, attempting to “rub his private parts,” unbuttoning her blouse not severe or pervasive); O’Dell v. Trans World
Entertainment Corp., 86 FEP Cases 497, 503 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (conduct not pervasive and severe where alleged
harasser repeatedly asked plaintiff out, made comments about plaintiff’s appearance, sent e-mails professing his love
for plaintiff, called plaintiff at home and at work, invited plaintiff to tour New York City with him, gave her three
gifts and played a song for plaintiff which she found offensive); Weiss v. Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Chicago,
990 F.2d 333, 337 (7th Cir. 1993) (holding claims were not sufficiently severe or pervasive to be actionable sexual
harassment, where supervisor repeatedly asked plaintiff about her personal life, told her how beautiful she was,
asked her on dates, called her a dumb blonde, put his hand on her shoulder at least six times, placed “I love you”
signs in her work area, and tried to kiss her once at a bar and twice at work); Sprague v. Thorn Americas, Inc., 129
F.3d 1355, 1365-66 (10th Cir. 1997) (holding five “sexually-oriented, offensive” statements insufficient to show
hostile environment, even though one of the harasser’s statements occurred while he put his arm around plaintiff,
looked down her dress and said, “Well, you got to get it when you can”); Quinn v. Green Tree Credit Corp., 159
F.3d 759, 768 (2d Cir. 1998) (holding that statement that plaintiff had the “sleekest ass” in office plus “deliberately”
touching plaintiff’s “breasts with some papers that he was holding in his hand” insufficient to alter terms or
conditions of employment); Shepherd v. Comptroller of Public Accounts of Texas, 168 F.3d 871, 872-75 (5th Cir.
1999) (several incidents, including comment “your elbows are the same color as your nipples,” another comment
that plaintiff had big thighs, touching plaintiff’s arm, and attempts to look down the plaintiff’s dress, were
insufficient to support hostile environment claim).

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• We recommend the District implement trainings into matters specifically related to
sensitivity, workplace etiquette, harassment, and related issues. Although we understand
that the District does not have the authority to require School Board Members to
undertake anti-harassment and other similar trainings of this kind, we recommend the
District strongly encourage School Board Members to participate in annual trainings in
these areas. The District should, at a minimum, notify the School Board Members of its
Anti-Harassment Policy during or in conjunction with the required Ethics Training
pursuant to Section 112.3142, Florida Statutes.

• We recommend that as a part of annual training on such issues as workplace etiquette and
harassment with employees, that special emphasis be given to the prohibition against any
retaliation for reporting harassment or for participating in any investigation involving a
complaint about harassment. Training for employees should also specifically include
informing attendees that complaints may be lodged against more than co-workers, and
specifically may include third parties, such as vendors, parents, and elected officials.

IX. Statement of Completion

This investigation has been completed by the undersigned and all material information and
evidence discovered in the course of the investigation has been reviewed and considered in
setting forth the conclusions contained in this report.

/s/ Michael P. Spellman


/s/ Monna Lea Bryant
/s/ Hetal Desai McGuire
/s/ Robert J. Sniffen
Sniffen & Spellman, P.A.
123 North Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32301

August 31, 2017

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From: Kindt.Carol@Human Resources Services
To: Blackburn.Desmond@Superintendent
Cc: Kindt.Carol@Human Resources Services; Carol Kindt
Subject: Retaliation
Date: Thursday, January 25, 2018 6:30:12 PM
Attachments: FW Kelly Educational Staffing.msg
Importance: High

Good evening Dr. Blackburn,


 
I am concerned about what happened at the January 23rd School Board Meeting when Mr. Ziegler
pulled my item about Kelly Educational Staffing (KES) from the Board Agenda for discussion.
 Specifically, my concerns lie with his “new” line of questioning about the budget and his comparison
of this proposal to EDR implying that what I was bringing to you and the Board had not been vetted. 
 As you are aware, all Board Members were provided a copy of the budget, our current fill-rate, and
a list of benefits for both employees and substitutes on December 15th at a public Board/Cabinet
retreat.  When I presented this material during the retreat, I explained that we had been working on
the budget piece in collaboration with our Finance Department for more than 6 months.  The Board
and Cabinet spent more than a half hour that day vetting the information I provided.  I also stated
that I would be bringing these documents for information at the January 23rd Board meeting and
was given direction to do so.  Also, at your direction at our Cabinet meeting on January 8th, you
asked me to text the Board members to remind them that I was bringing this initiative for
information at the January 23rd meeting which I did on January 9th asking for any clarification they
might need.  Mr. Ziegler did not text me or contact me for clarification on any aspect of KES until
January 18th when I received several questions via e-mail and I responded that same day (please see
attached e-mail).  He did not ask me for any more information after the 18th. 
 
I believe that Mr. Ziegler has intentionally tried to prejudice this initiative with the public by
comparing it to EDR and attempting to make me look like I was presenting something to you and the
Board that had never been reviewed with his “new” line of questioning; questions he did not provide
to you or to me at any time which would have provided me the opportunity to research answers for
him and also include in the presentation to inform the public and quell any concerns.
 
I believe Mr. Ziegler was intentional in his actions as a form of retaliation for a sexual harassment
investigation claim made against him by me.  This is very concerning to me as the Chief of HR as I
have a department of people working very hard to improve our processes and services for this
district and I believe that Mr. Ziegler will continue to thwart their progress because he is angry with
me.  My employees do not deserve to have their work discredited publicly nor do I deserve to be
continually harangued by this man.
 
Thank you for listening to my concerns.
 

Carol A. Kindt, Ed.D.


Deputy Superintendent/Chief Human Resources Officer
2700 Judge Fran Jamieson Way
Viera, FL 32940-6601
(O) 321.633.1000
(F) 321.633.3565
Kindt.carol@brevardschools.org