Twin Rivers trustess to vote on hiring new legal firm

Published: Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B

Twin Rivers Unified School District trustees will vote Tuesday on whether to sever ties with the outside legal counsel, Timothy M. Cary and Associates, to which the north-area school district has paid $1.3 million in the past two months alone.

The agenda for Tuesday's 7 p.m. meeting has board President Cortez Quinn recommending fellow trustees consider terminating Cary's contract and hire another outside law firm to "conduct a full legal review and assist the board to determine the future direction of existing legal cases."

The agenda says the district's administration recommends giving Cary's firm its required 30-day notice in order to hire Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP.

Cary's firm has said its billings are appropriate and are indicative of the large number of lawsuits the district is fighting.

But several trustees have vocally opposed what they called exorbitant legal bills from Cary's firm, which began contracting with Twin Rivers when the school district was first created four years ago. Two of the district's predecessor districts – North Sacramento and Del Paso Heights school districts – used Cary's firm prior to unifying with Grant high school district and Rio Linda elementary district to form Twin Rivers.

Trustees who ran as a slate of candidates supported by the district's teachers union made legal fees a focus of their campaigns. Four of the union's candidates won seats on the seven-person school board in the June election.

"Those who followed the campaign should know where everyone stands," said trustee John Dexter. "Everyone made their stance known. I can't tell you how people will vote, but my stance is pretty clear."

Two weeks ago, trustees approved July's bill from Cary's firm for $553,000.

June's bill was for $782,000. Cary's billings have consisted of several months of invoices, including some that are for services rendered six months prior.

Twin Rivers has paid $2.6 million in legal fees to Cary's firm since January. The school district has been fighting a myriad of lawsuits, with recent board meetings listing a dozen lawsuits to be discussed during closed session.

Trustee Michael Baker said legal fees are out of control and he looks forward to a discussion with board members about how to best move forward.

In addition to Tuesday's meeting, Twin Rivers trustees will meet today at 10 a.m. to discuss hiring an interim superintendent. While the board agenda leaves open the possibility of naming an interim leader, Dexter said the board will be setting the process for interviewing applicants. Dexter said 20 people applied and eight candidates were determined to have met the requirements outlined.

Those eight – who are both internal and external applicants – will be interviewed, possibly next week, Dexter said.

Both today's 10 a.m. meeting and Tuesday's 7 p.m. meeting will be held at the district's office at 5115 Dudley Blvd., Bay A, McClellan.

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Read more articles by Melody Gutierrez

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