Heard on the Street: Is the board looking for its own lawyer?

We heard from some lawyers in the area that the Williamson County School Board was shopping around for legal representation last week.  This would be a lawyer who does NOT work for the school district as a whole (i.e. under Dr. Looney) but solely for the board itself.  On Monday, January 12, Chairman PJ Mezera confirmed that he had been scoping out cost estimates.

This idea was first floated back in October when Susan Curlee expressed a desire to get outside legal counsel as well as a PR professional to work exclusively for the school board. (See Just the Facts, Ma’am from 10/27 and the Williamson Herald article School board’s option to hire separate staff discussed from 10/20.)

It now appears that the board is taking her suggestion seriously and costing out options.

This proposal hasn’t been raised at a meeting. It’s not on the agenda for the work session tonight either so we’re not sure when or how it will be deliberated.

Why is this concerning? 

There are lots of possible reasons that the board would want additional legal help.

But why would they want additional legal help that exclusively works for them and not for the district as a whole under the chief executive of the district? Our understanding is that the only reason the school board would hire its own legal representation is because they do not trust Superintendent Mike Looney or the lawyers who report to him. Otherwise, the district’s lawyers would do legal work requested by the board (as they already do).

Let’s be clear: In other school districts, the act of hiring separate counsel for the board has preceded action against the superintendent.

What’s going on here?