The urge by the Lompoc Unified School District chairman to hire an attorney to provide unspecified legal services sparked strong resistance from administrators to the unusual proposal.
The agenda for the LUSD board meeting earlier this month included “Approving the Agreement to Provide Specialized Legal Services” and was proposed by Board Chairman Bill Heath.
He recommended that the five-member board of directors approve a contract with Santa Barbara-based KVT Law Group LLP to provide temporary specialized legal services at a cost of $ 300 an hour for legal hours and $ 125 an hour for legal services.
Heath’s motion failed when none of the other four board members gave a second.
Copies of the contract were made available to the board members but were not included in the agenda package.
The contract, sent to Noozhawk upon request for the public document, had a six-month cap and $ 50,000 on the deal, but it remained vague about the scope of work.
“Attorneys are required to provide specialized legal services related to ongoing issues and disputes related to the conduct of district business,” the agreement states.
Though vague, it appeared that the contract with Heath’s – and some community members – displeasure was related to Superintendent Trevor McDonald.
Just before the beginning of the article, John Karbula, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, spoke on behalf of the Administrators about the usual proposal made without employee involvement and said it “did not follow the usual, well-honored path” to take as a measure Article to be considered.
He noted that the district is already working with four other law firms to provide various services and questioned the need for a fifth.
“It was developed in secret by a single board member,” said Karbula, who will be retiring this month after 34 years of training. “This deviation from the norm and board policy is a major concern. I was not and was not consulted.” My contribution called for an item that has significant tax implications for the General Fund. It is easy to imagine that this post would cost the district tens of thousands of dollars. There is not a cent in the budget for this item. “
Karbula said the lack of communication with staff should raise concerns on the board, adding that an item that could cost thousands of dollars should be very specific.
“Shrouded in total secrecy and vaguely bound, to approve this article would be a total violation of the oath of office to protect the public interest that each of you, three of you, recently took,” he said.
Heath called the request “well within” board guidelines and said they could temporarily use specialized legal services without making a request for suggestions.
While the policy says the board can enter into a legal services contract, it states that the majority must approve the deal. In addition, the policy states that the superintendent or chairman of the board can contact the district legal advisor for legal information or advice to members if so directed by a majority of the board.
After Heath applied for approval of the article, he asked, “Do we have a second?”
“I guess we don’t,” he said after the silence greeted him. “We won’t take it into account then.”
Aside from wielding the gavel during meetings and signing some documents, the board chairmen have no additional powers from their peers as each has a fifth of the vote on matters.
Towards the end of the meeting, Heath said defensively that he had no intention of offending employees with the item and that he was unaware of the correct process.
“I really haven’t been trained to be president,” said Heath. “The Board of Education is the district. As the board of directors, we have one employee who has been introduced to us, but I think it’s important that we get on the agenda, which is the district’s business. There is no ill-intention in this regard. “
He said some of the articles he had submitted were changed without his knowledge but did not provide the details.
“We are the body that drives the district through our CEO, our superintendent. He takes the direction from us. We are his boss as a unit. That has to be understood, “he said.” It’s my feeling and experience that there has been a lot of control over the board in the past. “
After the meeting, Heath declined to comment on the purpose of the special attorney.
According to the Articles of Association, board members actually have a limited role.
“The board deals primarily with general political issues and not with administrative details,” says the statutes. “The application of the policy is an administrative task to be performed by the superintendent and his staff.”
A special meeting on Tuesday focused on a workshop that “developed best practices for the board and governance team, as well as the vision, mission, and measurable goals and core values for LUSD”. The moderator was former LUSD Superintendent Jim Brown, emeritus partner of Leadership Associates.