Saturday, May 25, 2019

About the school board's attorney

Following is the School Board Policy that describes its attorney's relationship with it. See if you can spot the immediate problem...

Policy BDG Board Attorney/Legal Services

Issued 8/17
The complexity of school board operations requires the frequent procurement of legal services. Consequently, the board, by majority vote, may designate an attorney or law firm to counsel the board and administration on legal matters involving the district’s welfare.
The attorney will serve at the pleasure of the board and will be paid for services rendered.
The board may ask the attorney to attend such board meetings or other meetings as may be needed. A decision to seek legal advice or assistance on behalf of the school system may be made by the superintendent, the board, or may take place as a consequence of formal board direction. Such action will be taken as consistent with board policy and as it meets an obvious need of the board. It may take place as a consequence of formal board direction.
Except in unusual circumstances, the board will make all communications to the board attorney through the superintendent or board chairman.
Adopted 10/1/72; Revised 1/28/75, 8/12/97, 3/25/03, 8/8/17

Got it? It shows up in the last paragraph, just above the dates of adoption and revisions to the policy.

Part of that paragraph makes complete sense. An organization can't allow seven trustees to be calling the board's attorney all the time. When the phone rings, the attorney starts the meter; when the attorney hangs up, the meter stops. Well, then there is that other meter that keeps running.

Most legal questions should be funneled past the superintendent or the board chair (if there is a board chair). In the case of the Richland 2 School Board, there is no legal Board Chair.

The attorney for the District and the attorney for the legal work on the $468,000,000 bonds simply cannot know that the Richland 2 School Board has been operating since November 13, 2018 with two vacancies. Mrs. McKie is not a legal board member (and, thus, cannot be Chair), and Ms. Holmes is not a legal board member.

I would say that these two vacancies create the "unusual circumstances" under which any Board member should have already called the attorney for the District.

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