MIAMI – After six rounds of voting, the Miami-Dade School Board on Wednesday could not break a tie in the selection process to appoint a new board attorney.

Board Chairman Solomon Stinson determined, after the first vote resulted in a 4-4 tie, that the board should vote on the issue ten times in an effort to produce a majority decision to select the board’s new general counsel.
For reasons not made clear at the meeting, Board Member Renier Diaz de la Portilla recused himself from the selection process, withholding what would have been a deciding vote.

De la Portilla and Walter Harvey, the frontrunner for the attorney position, both work for GrayRobinson, P.A.

Out of the 52 candidates vying for the position, seven emerged as finalists.

Harvey, a Harvard Law School graduate who is a former Assistant Dade County attorney, and former Key West City Attorney Robert Tischenkel, tied as the top two finalists with four votes each.

“This is a difficult decision. Upon interviewing the candidates, they were all highly qualified. There was one candidate that stood out for me as someone I would have…represent us,’’ Board Member Ana Rivas Logan said before voting for Harvey. She was joined by board members Wilbert “Tee” Holloway, Stinson and Martin Karp.

Voting for Tischenkel were Lawrence Feldman, Marta Perez, Perla Tabares Hantman and Agustin J. Barrera.

Since they made no decision, board members agreed to essentially re-start the process with Harvey and Tischenkel being placed on the “hot list” for further consideration, a process that Barrera viewed as futile.

“These candidates are here,’’ Barrera said. “If they're not getting five votes today, they’re not going to get five votes in the next round, so basically we’re going to be looking at new candidates.’’

Stinson said, “We go back to the drawing board on the process.”