BAKER — The Baker School Board is asking the state attorney general to appoint a lawyer to represent three board members named individually in a lawsuit against the board by Tillage Construction.
The lawsuit is a result of a 3-2 vote by the board in July to terminate a contract with Tillage for disaster recovery, grants management and construction planning related to the flooding of Baker High in 2016.
Board members Shona Boxie, Vanessa Parker and Sharlous Booker had voted for terminating the contract with Tillage. Board members Elaine Davis and Joyce Burges voted against.
In its lawsuit, filed in August, Tillage alleges the board engaged in breach of contract and other acts including defamation, interference with business and interruption of a business contract.
Boxie, Parker and Booker are named in the lawsuit individually as well as in their official capacities as board members.
Attorney Linda Law Clark said the state attorney general recommends that individual members named in a suit against a board shouldn’t have the same lawyer as the board as a whole in order to avoid conflicts.
A board resolution and attorney general approval are required to appoint such a lawyer.
Voting in favor of the resolution Tuesday seeking the attorney appointment were Boxie, Burges, Parker and Booker.
Davis abstained, saying because she is not named in the suit and doesn’t feel she should be making a decision for those who were named.
The board as a whole will be represented by DeCuir, Clark, and Adams, the firm normally employed by the school board. Clark is a partner in that law firm.
The board is asking the attorney general to appoint Charles Hardie of the law firm Hammonds, Sill, Adkins and Guice to represent the three board members — Boxie, Parker and Booker — as individuals.
Under the proposed contract for the legal service, the board would pay no more than $20,000 over a period of up to two years for Hardie’s services.
The fees for the attorney’s services are set by the state attorney general and the contract can only be extended to three years, unless the attorney general approves a further extension.
The school district will be responsible for legal fees up to $25,000. Any amount over that should be covered by the district’s insurance company, Clark said.
DeCuir, Clark, and Adams has already filed a response to the suit on behalf of the board, a necessary step in the process; however, the individual members will also be required to respond as soon as they have an attorney in place, Clark told the board.
Clark said she couldn’t predict how long the court proceeding could take.
“I’ve had cases that last months and cases that last years,” she said.