02/10 - Schools may hire single law firm - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

02/10 - Schools may hire single law firm

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Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 8:58 am | Updated: 4:26 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Scottsdale school board members will consider hiring a single legal firm to function as its legal staff at a fixed cost when it meets tonight.

The Scottsdale Unified School District governing board will review specifications that would be used in a bidding process to hire a firm to represent the district, instead of allowing the superintendent to choose from among the three that currently serve the district.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the board room, 3811 N. 44th St., Phoenix.

"The board wanted to look into this, to see if it is more feasible as far as keeping legal costs down," said board president Sandra Zapien-Ferrero.

"It stemmed from a community group that had asked us to look into it," she said.

Parent Molly Holzer sent letters to all board members requesting the district freeze funding specifically to the firm Lewis and Roca, and that the district consider hiring a less-expensive firm at one fixed price.

Legal fees should be on the cutting board instead of programs such as fourth-grade music or about $200,000 in funding for registered nurses at most schools, she said.

"I would like to see (the district’s) legal fees cut at least by half, by hiring an in-house attorney or firm to do everything," Holzer said. She said Lewis and Roca would be considered if it lowered its rates.

In December the district released to Holzer details of four days of legal fees, adding up to $7,300 for Lewis and Roca attorneys earning $195 to $250 an hour.

The district is now reviewing its legal fees for this school year before releasing information to the media.

District spokesman Tom Herrmann estimates cost of an investigation against former Sequoya Elementary School principal Maureen Booth to be more than $200,000.

A single firm could oversee student hearings, employee discipline and personnel issues, which tend to be the costliest for the district that sets aside about $400,000 annually for legal costs, the most of any Arizona district, according to a 2003 report.

In other business, the board will discuss three options for a policy governing fliers sent home with students: Send all fliers home; keep the current moratorium on nonschool related events; or send home either basic information and/or post all fliers in school offices only.

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