Clark County Board of Directors fires lawyer who wrote ethics report
WINCHESTER, Ky. (LEX 18) – In a short meeting without public discussion among members of the Clark County School Board, a motion was passed on Friday to formally terminate the contract with the board attorney who reported a alleged ethics violation earlier this year.
The move was questioned by some in the community and two board members, President Ashley Ritchie and Vice President William Taulbee, said they believed it was retaliation.
In February, Thomas reported an alleged ethics violation involving Sherry Richardson, a member of the education council, to the Kentucky attorney general.
LEX 18 achieved records in September which indicate that Richardson’s family business, Howard’s Overhead Doors, has earned more than $ 85,000 from a construction and supply contractor for the new track complex at George Rogers Clark High School.
Richardson’s personal attorney said he believes Richardson didn’t break any of the rules for being on a public school board in the state of Kentucky, and Richardson urged people to withhold judgment until that the investigation of the Attorney General is completed.
Friday’s meeting was at noon and few parents and community members were in attendance.
When asked by a member of the community during the meeting why it was held at a time when many were working and could not attend, Board member Megan Hendricks said the meeting was for the purposes of “Housewives” and that the time worked for the majority of the members of the board of directors.
Two of the board members, Ritchie and Taulbee, were unable to be present at the appointed time and had requested that the meeting be held at a later date.
“Not to be too negative, but what works for the board doesn’t always work for your constituents in all districts,” community member Tara Brinegar said during public comments. “And maybe that should be taken into consideration next time around before making such a big decision about something that affects taxpayers and the dollars they contribute to hiring these new services.”
Another relative, Nena Honaker, asked the three board members present why they were replacing Thomas and asked what he had done wrong.
“Was this something unethical? Was it something illegal? Honaker asked. “Because that will end this conversation here.” “
“I am of the opinion that now is not the time to discuss it,” said Hendricks. “I think there are a lot of moving parts. I can say that the majority of us clearly did not feel comfortable and we chose to do so. “
Richardson said at the meeting that she also felt that way, “but maybe not for the reasons you suspect.”
In August, Richardson brought forward a motion to advertise legal services, a move that opened up Thomas’ job to new applicants. Thomas reapplied and there were two new candidates for the job.
Thomas’ offer included his current reduced rate which he set for the board at $ 80 an hour, which was less than half that of the other candidates. Taulbee requested that Thomas be rehired given the tariff, but Richardson offered an interview with all applicants.
“I think that’s a board that needs to feel comfortable,” Richardson said at that meeting. “And when you have a lawyer who doesn’t support one of their board members, I think that’s a problem.”
Taulbee and board chairman Ashley Ritchie did not attend the talks the following week, saying the process should have waited due to questions about how the offers were handled.
After the public group interview of candidates last week that lasted less than 45 minutes, Richardson immediately and without public discussion with the rest of the board of directors a motion to hire a new company; White Peck Carrington.
The motion was passed without discussion by the other two members at the meeting. During Friday’s meeting, the same three board members passed a motion to formally approve a contract for the newly hired legal services, again without public discussion between them.
After Friday’s meeting, Honaker expressed frustration that the contract in question had not been made available to the public before it was approved.