More information about the school attorney position

I sent some questions off to Stephanie Stuart in regards to new school attorney position that was created and subsequently filled by former board member Tom Lockman. The basis of the questions came from responses to Meg Dickinson’s Jan 15th News-Gazette article, both from the NG online comments and also what taxpayers are saying to me more privately. Plus I was just quite curious for my own sake. 🙂 Stephanie responded with (what I thought were) pretty good answers.

 

 

qIn addition to my other questions, I am also very curious about the new school attorney position that has been created. When Ken Kleber read the position description on Monday (Jan 14th Board Meeting), I noticed that the description he read was not on BoardDocs nor was it on the open job listing on Unit 4’s website (I checked on Sunday before the meeting). Could you forward the job description to me, please? Or if it is currently posted somewhere on the Unit 4 website, a link will suffice.

 

aYou can find the job description at the link below:

http://www.champaignschools.org/humanresources/School%20Attorney%202012-11-20.pdf

 

At the recent Board of Education meeting Ken Kleber read the candidate qualifications aloud as we do for other candidates brought forward to the Board. These descriptions are not made available on BoardDocs due to the sensitive nature of personnel issues, and it has not been our practice to read aloud job descriptions during the meeting. The description itself was posted on our website at the time of posting. From there, it gets picked up by a variety of sources (Indeed.com, K12JobSpot, Illinois Job Link, etc.).  The Illinois State Bar Association also picked it up.  Ken Kleber also reached out to the U of I Law School to make them aware of the posting and to other Districts that had recently hired in-house counsel to see if they could offer any leads, but didn’t have much success.  Finally, the District let all the firms with which we have an existing relationship know of the posting.  Because this is a specialized position, we did more outreach than we’d do for a typical position.

 

qMeg’s Jan 15th article suggests that Dr. Wiegand talked to the Board about this position. When exactly? I did not notice it in the agendas for December or November, but maybe I missed it or maybe it was covered in closed session. I am curious about the justifications for the position. Certainly, what Meg has highlighted in her article makes sense (wanting to reduce costs to 3rd-party attorneys), but I am a little concerned that this position has a relatively high salary. The justification of it being equal to Barb Ramsay’s salary does not seem appropriate to me.

 

aBringing on someone with a legal background was part of the conversation between Superintendent Wiegand and the Board starting in January 2012 when she started as Superintendent. At that time, the hope was that the new Executive Director of Human Resources would have a legal background, but that was not feasible at the time and Ken Kleber was hired to fill the position. The discussion continued regarding bringing on an attorney in September 2012 in a one-on-one meeting between Superintendent Wiegand and then-Board President Sue Grey. Ken Kleber began researching similar positions in other districts. At the November 5, 2012 Board Meeting, the Superintendent brought forward a job description drafted by Ken Kleber to the board for feedback during executive session under personnel, as is standard practice when reviewing potential new positions. Dr. Wiegand was aware that Barbara Ramsay was looking to leave the District, and so it was an appropriate time to look for an attorney to replace her position in the administration with someone with a legal and business background to assume some of her responsibilities and reduce the legal fees for the District.

 

In regard to your question on salary, Mr. Lockman’s salary is competitive for the area and slightly below the national median for attorneys. For example, the salary for this position in Normal, Il pays $102,000.

 

Final thoughts

Personally, I am very glad the district is looking for ways to save money – that is good thing in my book. 🙂 I don’t know the “best” way to handle these kinds of things (ie, personnel issues), but I do find it interesting that this particular situation raised a little bit of a ruckus. I must also say that I am personally glad we found someone local to fill this position.

 

I thank Stephanie for providing these little nuggets of insight in an effort to explain what happened.

 

Your own thoughts and comments are welcome.

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2 Responses to “More information about the school attorney position”

  1. pattsi Says:

    A concrete timeline is needed showing when all of the above occurred related to Mr. Lockman attending board meetings and date of stepping down along with first date advertising the position. Plus a policy is needed within Unit 4 related to the time interval between stepping down from the role of a board member and taking any administration position, aka congress persons moving to being lobbyest. Many too many questions.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    NG Editorials: http://www.news-gazette.com/opinions/editorials/2013-01-27/school-board-shouldnt-ignore-big-picture.html#comment-500138

    I have asked the Board and Dr. Wiegand to respond publicly to this editorial. Dr. Wiegand wrote back to say she will discuss it with Stig.

    What is the most appropriate and productive method to hold such a discussion? Obviously, trading letters back and forth via the NG is NOT going to be that helpful. I envision a panel with Dr. Wiegand and one or two of the NG editorial staff, Pattsi and maybe one other person. But I kinda doubt that will ever happen…..


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