School boards puppets for hack lawyers!

Jul 27, 2013 by

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ron Adler, president of the Ohio Coalition for Quality Education, thinks taxpayers would be smart to ask some questions when their local school districts ask for more tax dollars.

This share the wealth gathering attorneys run up legal bills to line their pockets at the expense of taxpayers.

He notes that some districts waste vast amounts of money on foolish causes that taxpayers are often ignorant about.

“When your local school district asks for your help to pass a school tax levy, do you ever ask, ‘What will they really do with that money?’ While their levy campaign message is frequently ‘We need it for the kids,” do you ever wonder if and how much of this new revenue will find its way into the classroom? Will the school district be good stewards of your local tax dollars?”

The answer is often a definite no. Adler cites two excellent examples, in Cincinnati and Columbus.

A few years ago the Cincinnati school district decided to auction off several unused school buildings. But in its zeal to limit competition for students from charter schools, the board placed a deed restriction on the sale forbidding buyers from using the building for any type of school.

The purchaser of one of those buildings tried to open a charter school and was met with a lawsuit by the Cincinnati school district. A county judge ruled against the school district, but the board pushed forward with a legal appeal.

The 1st District Court of Appeals also ruled against the district, but the school board still didn’t give up. It appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which agreed with the previous two rulings.

In the meantime the legal bills continued to pile up for the school board, which seemed determined to spend as much money as necessary to keep parents from having options for their children outside of Cincinnati Public Schools.

Greed was the major factor in this case. Students that leave public schools take thousands of dollars of state aid with them. The Cincinnati school board wanted to keep its students trapped so the district wouldn’t have to sacrifice any more state aid.

As Adler wrote, “The end result was that the Cincinnati school district spent hundreds of thousands of public dollars to defend the improper actions of the school board.”

Another example cited by Adler is the Columbus school district, which has been accused of fudging student attendance figures to maximize the amount of state aid it received.

The Columbus school board hired a high-profile law firm – Porter, Wright, Morris and Arthur – to counsel them during the state investigation, according to Adler. That move has turned out to be pricey. The Columbus Dispatch recently reported that the district has spent more than $500,000 in legal fees on the case.

Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost claims the school’s attorneys are purposefully “stretching out the investigation by filtering every document before turning them over to the auditor’s office,” a practice that increases legal fees for the school district.

“This means that taxpayers, who thought they voted for school levies to support their children’s education, are watching the school board divert more than half a million dollars in legal fees to fight investigations that should go forward and will determine the facts of the case.”

After all of that waste, the Columbus school board has announced plans to ask voters to approve a new tax levy this fall, according to Adler.

“How do you spell chutzpah?” Adler wrote.

Citizen activist says school boards ran up huge legal bills to defend foolish policies, actions – powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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