Judge Throws Out BPS Board MemberJennifer Jenkins’ Public Records Lawsuit, Rep. Randy Fine Not Ordered to Testify

Circuit Judge Michelle Naberhaus ruled that Fine does not have to testify in the lawsuit

Brevard School Board Member Jennifer Jenkins, left, faced two major blows to her public records lawsuit in the span of a week. A judge granted a third motion to dismiss Dec. 15 along with an order less than a week later that Rep. Randy Fine, R-Melbourne Beach, would not have to testify in the case.

By Amber Jo Cooper

BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA (flvoicenews.com) – Brevard School Board Member Jennifer Jenkins faced two major blows to her public records lawsuit in the span of a week.

A judge granted a third motion to dismiss Dec. 15 along with an order less than a week later that Rep. Randy Fine, R-Melbourne Beach, would not have to testify in the case.

On Thursday, Circuit Judge Michelle Naberhaus ruled that Fine does not have to testify in the lawsuit against Board Member Matt Susin and the Brevard County School Board over public records requests.

The lawsuit is over Jenkins requesting public records between Fine and Susin after Fine claimed a student “had committed a sexual assault.” The first complaint said the allegation “targeted a minority group of students and alleged the staff of Brevard Public Schools knew about the event but failed to comply with mandatory reporting requirements.”

A weeks-long investigation by the Melbourne Police Department ultimately found that Fine’s accusations were “unfounded,” according to court documents. Since then, Jenkins has filed a second, third, and fourth amended complaint.

Florida’s Voice did not find any direct connections between Fine and Susin in the lawsuit.

Florida Today reported in March that Jenkins “has accused Susin of working with State Rep. Randy Fine to amplify the rumors.”

The judge said in the Dec. 21 ruling said the court “does not feel it appropriate to force Rep. Fine to testify without the permissible scope and parameters of the deposition being put into place.”

In an interview with Florida’s Voice following the ruling, Fine claimed Jenkins is “insane.”

“She’s using the courts to engage in political warfare paid for by taxpayers, fueled by a delusional mind,” Fine said. “She’s crazy.”

Florida’s Voice reached out to Jenkins for reaction to the third complaint being thrown out, but did not receive a response. Fine’s comments were sent to Jenkins and her attorney Jessica Travis for a response and will update this article if a response is received.

Additionally, Fine provided the following statement regarding the case:

“Yet again, another Brevard Judge has dismissed yet another frivolous lawsuit from Jennifer Jenkins. There was no subpoena to avoid service on; no deposition to be held. No “perjury” to be avoided. Apparently, there wasn’t even a real lawsuit, just the rabid delusions of someone mentally unstable. Jenkins’ obsession with me has cost Brevard taxpayers and students hundreds of thousands of dollars. Having broken multiple laws in the process, I look forward to helping her move from the schoolhouse to the Big House.”

– Rep. Randy Fine to Florida’s Voice

“She also filed 25 stalking complaints against me,” Fine said. “I don’t even know where she lives. She is certifiably unbalanced. She is not mentally well.”

According to Fine, those stalking complaints have also been thrown out.

Fine also said the lawsuit she filed against Susin has been dismissed three times, as confirmed by Florida’s Voice.

Susin told Florida’s Voice he does not wish to comment on pending litigation at this time.

“The parties positions are reflected in their filings and the courts rulings. I look forward to the resolution of this through the judicial process,” Susin said.

According to the first complaint filed in the 18th Judicial Circuit in Brevard County in March 2023, Jenkins originally made public records request in August 2022 for the call log of Susin and Fine.

She requested both personal and school board issued call logs but there were no calls placed or received on Susin’s district phone, according to court documents.

After the second amended complaint, Susin provided an excel spreadsheet representing the call logs requested, according to the third amended complaint.

The judge said Jenkins’ third amended complaint “impermissibly commingles separate and distinct claims which are founded upon separate transactions/occurrences in the form of six public records requests made to two separate Defendants over the course of a year, preventing a clear presentation of the matters at issue.”

Furthermore, the judge said the third amended complaint “does not adequately allege the factual basis for suing the defendants in their official or personal capacities because it fails to plead the duties and obligations of each concerning the production of public records.”

The judge threw out the third amended complaint on Dec. 15. Then on Dec. 18, Jenkins filed a fourth amended complaint which claimed Susin “unlawfully refused records, did not promptly reply, or did not make a good faith response to Jenkins’ public records requests.”

Court documents show Jenkins’ attorney filed a motion on Dec. 21 for reconsideration and to immediately lift discovery stay “so that Randy Fine’s deposition may be taken on Dec. 22.” Fine will not be deposed due to the judge’s order which was released on Dec. 21, as previously mentioned.

Jenkins’ attorney said in the filing that “the longer this matter draws out, the less likely transparency will be obtained,” and noted that Fine will not be deposed until the end of March due to the upcoming legislative session which starts after the holiday.

Florida’s Voice has verified documents proving Jenkins filed 25 public records requests against Susin from 2021 to 2023. The records requests vary, but often sought text messages, emails, phone call logs, or other forms of communication between Susin and another party.

Due to this situation, John J. Quick, an attorney with Weiss Serota was retained by the school district to work on and respond to public records requests made by school board members and related to other school board members, according to public records verified by Florida’s Voice.

Florida’s Voice has reached out to the district to confirm Quick’s hourly rate, along with the amount of hours Quick has billed to the district for Jenkin’s requests.

Florida’s Voice confirmed that Jenkins used her school board email account to make all of the public records requests – versus a person email address.

During a school board workshop on Oct. 3, board members discussed the district’s public records request policy.

Susin noted that there are a lot of costs and public records requests that take up much of the staff’s time. He said the district utilized a third party to tackle public records requests between board members “because of the constant putting staff in between two board members.”

He also said it is a sunshine violation if board members request public records and bring it forward as part of an agenda item discussion.

In the third amended complaint, it is referenced that redistricting fees was an agenda item on July 11. Jenkins previously requested public records between John Tobia and Susin “regarding any communication about school board and school board redistricting.”

Florida’s Voice is working to confirm if this is a possible sunshine violation from Jenkins.

Also during the school board workshop on Oct. 3, Susin said they have “never had a situation where a board member requested public records from another board member.”

“And it’s even worse than 20 plus public records requests. Because of those 20 plus public records requests and the nature behind them, and the behaviors of that school board member, putting staff in between, has caused a situation where we went to a third party, that is the fact,” Susin said.

Florida’s Voice reached out to Jenkins along with her attorney, Jessica Travis, regarding Fine’s statement, and will update this article if a response is received.