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Educational Programs Unit

Phone: 850-245-0442

The Educational Programs Unit is charged with the responsibility of providing general legal assistance to all program units of the Department, from pre-kindergarten to college, in order to ensure that agency action complies with the state’s Education Code, the Florida Constitution, and the many federal laws and grants. The unit assists with implementing the state’s educational initiatives such as differentiated accountability, drop-out prevention, and various choice options, including virtual programs, charter schools and private schools that accept students with McKay scholarships. Educational Programs provides assistance in developing and reviewing policies, rules, and technical assistance papers, conducts hearings and appeals, handles litigation, and responds to complaints filed with the federal Office of Civil Rights. The unit coordinates the preparation of legislative bill analyses and legal review of proposed legislation, and provides training in the area of agency rulemaking.

Judy A. Bone
Deputy General Counsel

Jamie Braun
Assistant General Counsel

Amanda Gay
Assistant General Counsel

Nicholas Cleary
Assistant General Counsel

Tria Parsons
Executive/Legal Assistant

Business Operations Unit


The Business Operations Unit handles all contract reviews and provides significant assistance in contract preparation and negotiation, and preparation of competitive procurements and grant solicitations. Business Operations also handles a wide variety of litigation, including personnel appeals and arbitrations, bid protests, McKay scholarship denials, rule challenges, risk management cases, and challenges over district funding issues. Questions relating to bond finance, education funding, growth management, labor relations, garnishments, general services, technology, and other finance and operations issues are also referred to this unit.

James Richmond
Acting General Counsel

Jason Borntreger
Assistant General Counsel

Rochelle Brassard
Legal Assistant

Professional Practices Services Unit

Phone: 850-245-0443

This section represents the Commissioner of Education in educator licensing proceedings through which teaching or administration certificates may be denied or sanctioned. This section provides advice to investigators, recommends probable cause determinations to the Commissioner, drafts administrative complaints, negotiates settlements, handles informal hearings before the Education Practices Commission and formal hearings at the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH), and defends cases on appeal.

Bonnie Wilmot
Deputy General Counsel

Robert Ehrhardt
Assistant General Counsel

Gavin Dunn
Assistant General Counsel

Brian Pagozalski
Paralegal Specialist

Courtney Mahar
Paralegal Specialist

Vocational Rehabilitation/Blind Services Unit

Phone: 850-245-0442

This unit provides legal services to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Division of Blind Services. These divisions provide vocational rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities that impede their employability. This unit represents the Divisions in administrative hearings and civil litigation and provides guidance in matters including rulemaking, contracts, vendor certification, legal process, legislative proposals, and policy.  The unit also manages the Divisions’ subrogation rights to reimbursement of vocational rehabilitation service expenditures from third-party payments

Nicole Saunders
Deputy General Counsel

Linda Adams
Legal Assistant – Vocational Rehabilitation/Blind Services

Paula Harrigan
Assistant General Counsel

Tammy Smith
Legal Assistant – Public Records Requests