Thomas Farr is asking a lot of questions that go beyond auditing the school district's legal services as part of his job as the Wake County school board's special interim counsel.
As noted in today's article by Thomas Goldsmith, Farr has asked questions on topics such as magnet schools, the percentage of free-and-reduced-price lunch students at schools and suspension rates. Some of that data is readily available on the school district's web site.
Farr said his agreement with the board also calls for him to make suggestions if he comes across means to make the system run more efficiently
Farr and his law firm have billed Wake for nearly $6,000 so far.
In one message, Farr asks about the school district's audit committee. The group was formed following the school transportation fraud case.
In a Feb. 23 message, Farr asks about Wake's record on suspensions and expulsions as compared to other districts.
"A knowledgeable member of the education community state wide has advised me that Wake has the fourth most severe record in the country for suspending and expelling black males," Farr writes to Supt. Del Burns. "Is this true and can I discuss with someone who would know."
Farr is actually talking about a report that found that North Carolina ranks fourth among states for most students suspended each year.
In another Feb. 23 message, Farr asks for information on "graduation rates for at risk kids, minorities etc., as compared to non- minorities" and "stats for grade level testing broken down by at risk kids, minorities, non-minorities etc."
In a March 1 message, Farr asks to confirm whether Wake has four magnet high schools and a "pre-magnet" at Millbrook.
In that same message, Farr asks about the number of base students at Enloe High, the definition of a base school, the racial composition of Enloe and data showing the racial composition of students participating in magnet programs at Enloe vs. the racial composition of students who are not.
In another March 1 message, Farr asks "are there schools in Wake County that exceed 40% of eligible for free and reduced lunch and if so which schools and what." He also asks in the message "does the school system keep racial composition for student body at each school and is that available."
There are messages related to the legal services audit in which he asks about how much has been paid for outside counsel and to insurance carriers.