July 14, 2004
The law firm that investigated former principal Maureen Booth overcharged the district $50,000, Scottsdale school board member Joel Feldman alleged Tuesday.
Booth, who was accused of changing test scores to bring in teacher bonuses at Sequoya Elementary School, resigned in January in a settlement agreement. The accusations were dropped, but the Scottsdale Unified School District was left with a bill of $225,000 from Lewis and Roca.
"There may have been some issues they attacked more zealously than they needed to," Feldman said at the governing board meeting. "And I think they all charged the same fee, although I think there’s supposed to be a fee reduction based on experience. I think many of the lawyers were too heavyweight to be on the case."
He said the district also was charged for time lawyers spent discussing the case with one another.
Lewis and Roca attorneys could not be reached for comment.
The board voted 3-1 to have two board members discuss the fees with the firm.
Feldman voted no. He wanted Christine Schild to be one of the board members to review the fees because she was the one who originally questioned them.
The board plans to ask the State Bar of Arizona for an audit if the subcommittee and the firm can’t agree on the final cost.
The board also unanimously approved its new teacher contracts, which include raises ranging from 2 percent to 4 percent, and its fiscal 2004-05 budget of $153 million.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent John Baracy urged interest groups to "drop their verbal swords" and end "offensive" references to a civil war between north and south Scottsdale.
He asked the small crowd to be open to new ideas and change.
"I want to provide an environment where we take risks and do things differently," he said.
He introduced the "Learning Leadership Cabinet," which now includes directors of food services and transportation. One of his focuses is improving morale and encouraging all staff to consider themselves part of children’s education. To that end, he introduced the first title change. Bus drivers will be called "transporters of future leaders."