Will Furry elected Flagler School Board chair; Christy Chong elected vice chair

The board approved a request for letters of interest from law firms and may also look into other options for a board attorney.

Will Furry takes the oath of office as Flagler County School Board chair as outgoing Chair Cheryl Massaro watches in the background. Photo by Brent Woronoff
Will Furry takes the oath of office as Flagler County School Board chair as outgoing Chair Cheryl Massaro watches in the background. Photo by Brent Woronoff
Photo by Brent Woronoff
  • Palm Coast Observer
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Will Furry was elected Flagler County School Board chair and Christy Chong was elected vice chair at the board’s annual reorganization meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Chong nominated Furry to be board chair after Cheryl Massaro nominated Colleen Conklin. Conklin didn’t get the necessary three votes. Sally Hunt then joined Chong and Furry to give Furry three votes.

Furry nominated Chong for vice chair. With no other nominations, she was elected unanimously.

Furry, Chong and Hunt were all elected to the board a year ago. They did not come in as a voting bloc, but now they often vote as a majority on divisive issues. They ousted former Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt, winning a 3-2 vote against renewing her contract. They have also joined together in deciding to terminate School Board Attorney Kristy Gavin's contract.

Flagler County Court Judge Melissa Distler swears in new School Board Chair Will Furry. Photo by Brent Woronoff

Furry and Chong were sworn in to their new roles by County Court Judge Melissa Distler. Furry and Chong then took their new seats next to Superintendent LaShakia Moore, with former Chair Massaro and former Vice Chair Conklin moving to the other end of the dais.

Furry led the meeting the rest of the way with one controversial issue on the agenda — what to do about hiring a new School Board attorney.

Following the board’s instructions, Kris Collora, the district’s coordinator of purchasing, presented a draft of a request for letters of interest from law firms with the intent of hiring one firm to act as School Board attorney.

The board eventually approved the solicitation for letters of interest, voting 4-1 with Conklin dissenting. But board members could decide to move in a less expensive direction. Massaro introduced the possibility of hiring an attorney on call as an alternative to hiring a permanent firm. The attorney could be on call monthly, attending all the meetings and providing additional assistance at an hourly rate, Massaro said.

Hunt indicated she would be in favor of looking into a less expensive option than hiring a firm.

Moore provided a brief update on discussions with Gavin about taking on a new role as the attorney for the school district rather than for the board through the remainder of her contract, which expires in June 2025. 

Moore said they had met twice, once to discuss dates and once to discuss business, with another meeting scheduled. Massaro had been involved in those meetings. Furry, as the new board chair, will now join Moore and Gavin in the discussions.

Furry has already indicated that if an agreement with Gavin and the district comes up for board approval, he would likely vote against it.

The board had given Gavin and the district 60 days to come to an agreement. That deadline falls on Dec. 31. If there is not an agreement by then, the board would terminate Gavin’s contract.

Conklin said she was concerned that if Gavin’s contract is terminated on Dec. 31, both the district and the board would be without legal representation. The timeline on the letters of interest proposal projects the hiring of a firm in February.

I think we should be prepared if a mutual agreement (with Kristy Gavin) is not reached.”

“I think we should be prepared if a mutual agreement (with Gavin) is not reached,” Conklin said.

Moore noted that the district can spend up to $50,000 for legal assistance as needed.

But the board would still need to fill its gap. 

Furry suggested hiring an interim attorney by the hour. Massaro lent her support if the rate would be $300 an hour or less. Furry, who chose the firm Shutts & Bowen to analyze Gavin’s contract in seeking a way out of it, said he would get information on hiring an interim board attorney “just to have at our disposal” for the December board meeting.

Meanwhile, Massaro asked Hunt again if she had provided in writing, as discussed at the October business meeting, what her just cause was for terminating Gavin’s contract. Hunt said she was advised not to put anything in writing. 

With the motion already approved to terminate Gavin’s contract on Dec. 31 if an agreement with the district is not reached, Hunt said providing just cause is now "old business."


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