0

Clayton BOE to vote on legal services

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Board of Education is scheduled to decide on Monday whether it wants to go with two legal services providers, or a pool of six law firms, according to School Board Chairperson Alieka Anderson.

Last month, school board members postponed a vote on changing the district's legal services system, so presentations could be heard by two of the proposed firms, Marietta-based Brock, Clay, Calhoun and Rogers, (also known as Brock and Clay) and Jonesboro-based Fincher, Denmark and Williams.

The board's vote on the plan will take place at its monthly business meeting, which will be held Monday, at 6:30 p.m., at the Clayton County Public Schools Central Administration Complex, which is located at 1058 Fifth Ave., in Jonesboro.

Anderson said the school board will make its decision, without hearing the proposals from either firm, however. "We know the two law firms already," Anderson said. "Fincher, Denmark and Williams has been working for the district since before I joined the board [in July 2008], and Brock and Clay has been working for us for the last 11 months, so we already know what they can do.

"Brock and Clay, and Fincher, Denmark and Williams were the top-rated firms [among six evaluated by district officials], so we believe they have the expertise to represent this school system."

Anderson said the board may go with a plan proposed last month by School Board Member Pamela Adamson to make those two firms the district's main legal counsels.

But, Anderson added that the school board could opt, instead, to go with a plan recommended by Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley to use a legal services pool made up of six law firms, including Brock and Clay, and Fincher, Denmark and Williams.

A system in which more than one law firm oversees legal services would be a move away from the current system, in which the school system has relied on a lead law firm, who farms out cases when necessary, based on workload, or needed expertise.

According to the agenda for the meeting, board members are also scheduled to vote on changes Heatley is proposing to make to the district's alternative-meal policy. Last month, Heatley told the board that students have run up a more than $83,000 unpaid meals tab. He predicted the tab could hit $200,000 by May 2010.

Alternative meals are designed to be no-frills meals provided to students when they do not bring their lunch money to school, or when funds in their pre-paid, meal-plan accounts have been depleted.

Heatley is proposing three restructured, low-cost alternative meals: A cheese sandwich, a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, or a garden salad with dressing. Each alternative meal would come with an apple, and either milk or juice.

Other items on the school board's agenda include: Approving its meeting calendar for 2010; approving a resolution concerning a classroom addition at Roberta T. Smith Elementary School; adoption of strategic planning goals for the board; reviewing board policies concerning students; and a vote on a resolution to support other school boards around Georgia who are suing state education officials over charter-school funding.