The Wake County school board has racked up $67,113.71 so far in legal bills defending the district against the various complaints filed or supported by the state NAACP.
According to page 1 and 2 of this handout presented during last week's budget work session, Wake has compiled $154,298.61 in legal bills dealing with the Open Meetings lawsuit, the federal civil rights complaint and the AdvancED review.
School officials are hoping insurance will pick up $87,176.90 but Wake is rapidly reaching its insurance cap. This means the district would pick up a larger share of any new legal expenses.
Wake has compiled $56,293.90 in bills defending the Open Meetings suit. The NAACP is one of the groups providing legal representation to the supporters of the old diversity policy who filed the lawsuit.
Wake has compiled $55,883 in bills responding to the federal civil rights complaint filed by the NAACP.
Wake has compiled $42,113.71 in bills dealing with the AdvancED complaint filed by the NAACP.
While insurance has covered the majority of the costs so far, Chief Finance Officer Mark Winters said there's a $100,000 cap on how much insurance will cover legal bills on non-monetary lawsuits.
Winters said this is the first year of the cap but that it had been set at $100,000 to help lower the insurance premiums. In response to a question from school board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman, Winters said he didn't think Wake's premiums would rise because of the money spent this school year.
School board attorney Ann Majestic said that this is the first year insurance is picking up complaints at the administrative level before it become a lawsuit.
School board member Chris Malone, who had requested the information, also asked Tuesday for data on the school district's security costs at board meetings and how much Raleigh Police have spent. Staff will try to have the data at the April 26 budget work session.
While school board majority members are trying to blame the legal costs on the NAACP, supporters of the old diversity policy are putting the blame back on the board.
"This Board of Ed has been quite irresponsible with spending," Ann Overton said at last week's school board meeting. "You've spent tens of thousands of extra dollars on hiring more attorneys. Tax dollars to pay lawyers to defend your decisions to hold closed meetings, limit public involvement in board meetings and fight a civil rights complaint."