As the review by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office continues to determine whether a Clark County School Board member violated ethics, another step was taken Monday evening to replace the attorney who reported the alleged violation.
Allegations that the family business of school board member Sherry Richardson made thousands of dollars on a school project were reported by school board attorney Brian Thomas earlier this year, and the Kentucky attorney general’s office is still investigating whether Richardson broke any of the rules to be on the board.
Richardson’s personal attorney said he did not believe his client had broken school board rules.
Richardson introduced a motion in August to advertise legal services, a move that opened up Thomas’ job to other candidates. Vice-chairman William Taulbee was one of two who voted against the motion at the time, and he has repeatedly said that any decision to replace council counsel should be put on hold until the end of the Kentucky Attorney General’s investigation into Richardson.
Richardson offered to continue the process at last week’s meeting.
“I think that’s a board that should feel comfortable and when you have a lawyer who doesn’t support one of its members, I think that’s a problem,” Richardson said during the meeting last week. “So I would suggest that we go ahead and start the interviews.”
Taulbee told LEX 18 after last week’s meeting that he thinks Richardson’s actions to replace Thomas are retaliation.
At last week’s meeting, the board discussed the proposals of three candidates for the post, including Thomas. After a group interview of the three candidates on Monday evening which lasted less than 45 minutes, three board members chose a new lawyer without any public discussion.
The other two board members, Taulbee and board chairwoman Ashley Ritchie, left the meeting before talks began, expressing that they wished to wait to move forward with the process of hiring a lawyer until questions about the tendering process are answered.
Richardson’s original motion on Monday night to hire a new lawyer also included a decision to immediately give Thomas 30 days notice of termination. But Thomas, still a board attorney, said his dismissal was not on the agenda and he would have to wait for another meeting.
The board will temporarily have two attorneys, Thomas at his rate of $ 80 per hour per week that he has set up for the board and the new law firm, which has a rate of $ 200 per hour, according to the cabinet proposal.