Short and tense | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Short and tense

Posted By on Tue, May 1, 2007 at 6:48 PM

That's about all there is to say about the Little Rock School Board's emergency meeting, which was held in spite of objections by Superintendent Roy Brooks' attorneys.
The meeting lasted 40 minutes; board members first argued about whether the meeting was legal and permissible under board policy (yes on the legal question, according to the district's attorneys).
Then came a discussion of whether to hire a separate attorney to represent the board in the suspension and termination proceedings against Brooks. The board's usual four-person majority voted to hire North Little Rock lawyer Chip Welch, with Baker Kurrus abstaining and Larry Berkley and Melanie Fox voting no because, they said, they couldn't vote to hire Welch without having more information about his qualifications.
Board members didn't settle the question of whether to pick up the tab for lawyers to defend Board President Katherine Mitchell and Michael Daugherty in the lawsuit filed against them Monday by Brooks. Daugherty made a motion to do so, which sparked tense discussion about whether he and Mitchell should be allowed to vote on it. District attorney Chris Heller quoted state law prohibiting board members from voting on any contract in which they had an interest. But he then also brought up two other options: The district has an insurance policy to cover damages awarded in lawsuits, and the state operates a School Workers Defense Policy, a fund to help pay the legal fees of school district employees, including school board members. Heller said he couldn't say Mitchell and Daugherty would definitely qualify to use the fund, however.
Kurrus said -- and Berkley later agreed -- that he had mixed feelings about paying for Mitchell's and Daugherty's legal fees, because not doing so might discourage other people from running for the school board. After Curry proposed tabling the issue, Daugherty withdrew his motion, and the meeting ended a few minutes later.


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