Feb 17, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
How many lawyers has the Jordan-Elbridge School District had, and at what cost?
Maureen Doyle, of Jordan, presented the J-E school board with these questions in front of a standing-room-only crowd gathered in the high school cafeteria for tonight’s meeting, yielding mostly exact figures from board President Mary Alley.
Alley told residents the district paid $71,000 in legal fees in 2007-2008, $96,656 in 2008-09 and $111, $111,736 in 2009-10. Since the start of 2011, the district has paid $70,630 in legal fees. Alley did not know how much the district owed in outstanding legal fees.
“People wanted to know what we paid so far,” she said.
Alley said about 15 percent of this year’s payments went toward 3020a charges brought against some district employees, while the rest went toward defending lawsuits brought against the district, and to paying legal counsel to review Freedom of Information Law requests.
On Tuesday, Doyle and other members of the JE Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility filed a petition with the school’s clerk calling for a special meeting where residents could vote on four propositions — a vote of “no confidence, a vote to prohibit the current the current board from appointing and/or hiring the district’s next superintendent or interim superintendent, and two votes for the board to retract its decisions to appeal two recent court decisions.
According to a Feb. 15 report by the Post-Standard, Jay Worona, general counsel for the New York State School Boards Association, “said there is no authority in the law that I am aware of that would require a board of education to put these propositions up for a vote of the public.”
Doyle questioned this statement and others made by Worona.
“He also said the only time a community can be heard is when they vote for or against the school district budget,” Doyle said. “That is an outright lie — the budget that we all voted on last time has been bludgeoned and battered, and so our vote has already proven to be of little merit with this board.”
Doyle said Worona’s comments suggest that “no matter how far astray from all common sense and community good” a school board goes, districts residents are obligated to stand idly by until the next budget vote.
“We offer that this advice is as defective as any that the board has paid for, and is not in the best interest of the district,” Doyle said.
Doyle urged that the propositions were non-binding.
“What better way to find out how many people in the community are concerned with where we’re going?” Doyle told the Observer.
The board did not respond to the petition during the meeting.
“I think our response has been said by Jay Worona,” Alley said following the meeting. “Jay Worona addressed it for us.”
When asked if the board planned to offer a formal response to the petition, filed on Tuesday, Alley said the board had not had the chance to discuss it.