Office of the General Counsel
The Office of the General Counsel is responsible for providing sound, effective, and timely legal advice and representation to the State Board of Education, the Commissioner of Education, and all units within the Department of Education. The office also fosters cooperation and collaboration with counsel for the sixty-seven school districts, as well as counsel for charter schools, state colleges, and the education law bar in general. The General Counsel is available for consultation at all State Board of Education meetings and is available at the call of the Education Commissioner and board members for research and advice. Areas for which the General Counsel is called upon routinely include statutory interpretation, public records, open meetings, ethics, rulemaking procedures, legislative procedures, personnel, procurement and the management of all agency litigation. The office takes a hands-on role to assist the Department in meeting the complex federal requirements that must be met to secure and maintain federal education funding. These include the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), among the most prominent. The General Counsel supervises the work of thirteen attorney positions, two paralegals, and six other support staff.
Matthew H. Mears, General Counsel
Florida Department of Education
1244 Turlington Building
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0400
Diana Harper, Executive Assistant