The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments today on the lawsuit arguing that the Little Rock School Board’s buyout of former Supt. Roy Brooks’ contract was an illegal expenditure of tax money.
My witness says the justices’ questions sounded favorably disposed to the school district’s arguments that 1) it was a legal resolution of a contract dispute within the discretion of the board and 2) the issue was moot because Brooks’ has been paid (as well as his lawyers). There’s no money to recover without suing Brooks.
The lawyers challenging the buyout argue that the issue should be resolved regardless of money recovery because it could apply to other buyouts in the future. Justice Tom Glaze did wonder whether the expenditure was necessary for maintenance and operation of the school district, which is the constitutional standard for spending school money. But if a district can’t fire a contract employee — and pay according to the terms of the contract when that happens — it will be hard to hire superintendents. Thus, a contract buyout seems necessary for operation as a personnel cost.
A quick decision, in the next week or two, is expected.