DeKalb schools’ legal bill to double in 2013

The Daily Report recently reported that DeKalb schools’ legal bill will double in 2013 to an astounding number. Guess. Just take a quick guess. Guess how many of your hard-earned tax dollars will be sent to the coffers of law firms like Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, Alexander & Associates and King & Spalding. So, do you have your guess ready? The Daily Report discovered via an Open Records Request that $10.5 million will go to these law firms in FY 2013!


“For what?” you ask.

So glad you asked.

This money will be mostly spent on the Heery Mitchell civil lawsuit over SPLOST construction projects, which was filed over six years ago and is scheduled to go to trial in February (please, don’t hold your breath on that). The Daily also says tax dollars will be spent on “unrelated litigation and settlements involving former school system employees…” according to DCSS CFO Michael Perrone.

The article goes on to tell us that “Over the past three years since Sutherland became the school district’s general counsel, the firm has usually collected the most from DeKalb schools, including $2.5 million in 2012. Sutherland spokeswoman Andrea Christman said the firm declined to comment in order to protect client confidentiality.”

Excuse me, but aren’t we (the taxpaying citizens of DeKalb) the ‘client’? We are not allowed to even know where our money goes?

On top of the $18.2 million collected by King & Spalding (and the mounting collectables adding up under the new contingency agreement), we paid nearly $1.2 million in total so far to Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson for representing six former board members named in the Heery civil case. And the board just voted 5 to 4 to lift the $100,000 cap on Dr. Lewis’ representation in the civil case.

Cha-ching. Try to explain this wasteful, gluttonous money pit to some of the struggling small school districts around the state whose total operating budgets can’t hold a candle to our legal bills. Heck, try explaining this expense to the classroom teacher who is told there is not enough money for copy paper or other classroom supplies. Or the para who lost their job due to budget cuts.

How incredibly shameful.

To read the entire Daily Report, click here.

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7 Responses to DeKalb schools’ legal bill to double in 2013

  1. ursokm16 says:

    No irony in Sutherland again–The presence of Sutherland persuades me that these case go wayyyy beyond the school system and Lewis. As you said, there should be no love for that firm with DeKalb County Schools.

  2. thedeal2 says:

    Trying to think of a thoughtful, reasoned comment, but it’s so difficult in the face of such immoral activity. How can they steal from our children’s hands like this? I’m not sure I’m going to get past this one. It should be Exhibit A in the case to a constitutional amendment to allow for additional and smaller school systems.

  3. We think these stories are just the tip of the iceberg. For far too long students and parents have been treated as an annoyance and as adversaries — instead of as the customers and taxpayers that they really are. We hope that we will hear more stories from other parents out there. We can hide their identity. But, we want to write up these stories and publish them. We want to make everyone aware of how corrupt and dysfunctional DeKalb County School System is. Clearly, a constitutional amendment to set up smaller, more manageable school systems within DeKalb County is a critical need.

  4. midvaledad says:

    While I agree this is bad and way too much money to spend on legal fees you have to expect the amount of money spent on them to go up when there is a trial. Trials cost money. If the Heery Mitchell civil lawsuit is postponed then the bill will be postponed also.

    Unless Dr. A moves to settle, and I don’t think Heery Mitchell wants to settle, the bill will have to be paid.

  5. ohwell369 says:

    I’ve been following the Heery/Mitchell case for several years now, both in the AJC and here on DSW and DSW2. At various times I’ve been both shocked and amazed at how this story has unfolded. Having read all of the various articles written about this case, with all of the attendant commentary, there is just one thing that needs to be said.

    There is no chance in hell that DCSS will ever prevail in this case.

    I could go through all the reasons I’m convinced of this, but it would take way too long of a post. But as a practicing architect, I am somewhat familiar with the issues, how contracts work, and how Change Orders work. Although the general concepts are not all that difficult, this case is overly broad, incredibly complex and close to impossible to prove in court in front of an impartial jury. I don’t even care who’s right and who’s wrong; no jury will ever be able to sort through all the information necessary to determine who might be accountable.

    DCSS has been sold a bill of goods by the construction consultant who first ‘identified’ the cost overruns, and by the lawyers who are milking them for every penny they can. Now they are in a hole they can never climb out of. Once the dust settles, the citizens of DeKalb County will be stuck with a $30+ million tab with nothing to show for it. And no way to recover it.

  6. And everyone who signed off on this whole thing should be looking at serious jail sentences for being so careless with tax dollars — and, worse, for sentencing thousands of ill-educated children to a life of less.

  7. justice for dekalb says:

    ohwell369, I think you do not know all of the facts. I don’t know all of them either, but the fraud allegations related to improper billings are compelling. The documented incidents of time shifting that have been publicly shared are fairly easy to follow. The question is whether the issues are worth the money spent on attorneys. I would guess probably not, but we will see if and when this case gets to court.

Comments are closed.