There’s been some buzzing about the fact that ongoing discussions of settlement of a variety of legal cases involving the Little Rock School District didn’t come up at the School Board meeting last week. These range from some small personnel disputes to the high-profile federal lawsuit over Central High cheerleader selection and the end of the desegregation lawsuit.
Interim Superintendent Linda Watson answered questions about that with this note to board members:
I have talked with Attorney Eddings regarding the settlement proposals. He explained that the reason a report was not presented to the Board on Thursday is because he has been working with the clients’ attorney in an effort to understand the legal basis for each proposal. As soon as they receive the information, he will present the recommendations to the Board for approval.
A further question about legal issues is whether the Board might change how it is represented. For years, the Friday Firm has been the district’s sole legal counsel, reaping hundreds of thousands of dollars for a wide range of work. It says it charges less than customary rates in return for being the sole supplier. It so happens that the Friday lawyers have objected in recent weeks to several proposals by lawer John Walker, who represents black intervenors in the desegregation suit.
Whether for political reasons — or for the belief that having a house counsel might be cheaper — there is some thought that the School Board may move to hire staff counsel sooner rather than later. A key question would be whether the Friday Firm would continue to handle the deseg suit, in which it has invested so much work over the years.