Former Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, current Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler and longtime Fort Lauderdale attorney W. George Allen will conduct a fact-finding review of the district's policies and procedures. There also will be public hearings, the district said Wednesday.
"This will be as open and public a process as you will ever see," Seiler said.
The group has no deadline to complete the job, although it's expected to give a report to the board in 90 days.
The three men were selected for their connections to the county, and for their backgrounds. Butterworth served as Florida's attorney general for 16 years, and also was a Broward prosecutor, judge and Sunrise mayor. Seiler is an attorney who was in the House of Representatives for eight years. Allen is a longtime attorney and civil rights activist who successfully sued the Broward school district in 1970 so his children could attend a white school.
They already have met with Broward Schools Superintendent James Notter and board chairwoman Maureen Dinnen to discuss the scope of their work.
Butterworth lauded the district for "taking an action here that is unprecedented."
The panel comes after the Sept. 23 arrest of suspended board member Beverly Gallagher on federal corruption charges, including bribery, fraud and extortion. It also follows board member Stephanie Kraft's disclosure earlier this month that her husband, Mitch, did legal work for two years for a company owned by lobbyist Neil Sterling.
District rules require lobbyists to disclose any direct business ties to board members or their immediate family, which Sterling failed to do. But there was no punishment in the policy for lobbyists who didn't follow the rules.
Records show Kraft played a role in getting the School Board to more quickly act on giving a $500,000 break for Prestige Homes, which also had hired Mitch Kraft to do legal work.
Recent events have created a "crisis of confidence in the Broward School District," said Dinnen.
She said she and Notter reached out to the three men last week because of their long histories of community service. Still, Allen's selection raised some questions because he is a registered lobbyist with the district. He represents Bencor Inc., a company which offers alternatives to Social Security for the district's temporary employees.
Allen said Bencor has a long-term contract with the district and he hasn't lobbied for the company for years, although he still files forms as a lobbyist for them. He said he did not view it as a conflict.
Once the panel wraps up its work, Dinnen said the board would take their recommendations seriously.
"We want to look at them, we want to implement them," she said. "That is the bottom line."
Kathy Bushouse can be reached at kbushouse@SunSentinel.com or 954-356-4556.