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School Boards and The Lawyers Who Love Them

It’s always interesting when school districts bring on new/more lawyers. A very good blog that follows the Atlanta Public Schools (APS), posted this blog about the recent hiring of a new legal firm for the district.

Another APS watcher, Tom Tidwell, posted this on his Facebook page:
“Two of the biggest issues during last year’s Board of Education elections were transparency and pushing funding into the classroom. I understand that change takes time and maybe I was expecting too much from the new Board but it seems to be business as usual at APS.

Last night, the Board approved a resolution to hire Glenn Brock as outside general counsel. APS has publicly stated the desire to hire Brock was intended to reduce costs and increase efficiency so more money can be directed to the children in the schoolhouse. Nancy Morrison Meister asked Davis how theses savings and efficiencies would be realized and he clearly backed away from this notion, saying it wasn’t just a cost issue. No one could explain how this was going to be good for APS, and in fact one board member suggested they should support it simply because its what the new superintendent wants. This is concerning on a number of levels, but most importantly, at least in my mind, it is another example of APS making aspirational statements that don’t have any basis in fact or reality. Why can’t we, as parents and taxpayers, get open, honest and transparent communications from the APS and the Board?

Glenn is a good lawyer and would make a great general counsel, but if he is unwilling to take the job as a full-time, in-house position, then APS should look elsewhere. It is hard to imagine how APS intends to save money by hiring a partner at a large firm. The effective hourly rate if a GC is hired in-house at $200,000 a year would be around $100/hour. The average hourly rate for Nelson Mullins paralegals is higher than that, and the hourly rate for a partner with Glenn’s skill set is probably closer to $500 an hour.

Only two board members, Nancy Meister and Steven Davon Lee, voted against this resolution, even though there was no urgency and absolutely no reason why they could not delay this until the July meeting. Do we really want to go back to the days of Beverly Hall and the “go along to get along” board?”

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