Broken Arrow School Scandal Proving Costly For Taxpayers

Tuesday, August 31st 2010, 10:02 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, OKLAHOMA -- Broken Arrow's School Board met with state auditors for the second time Tuesday.

And once again the school's attorneys sat in on the closed door meetings.

8/31/2010 Related Story: Broken Arrow School Board Members Meeting Again With State Auditor's Office

Broken Arrow School Attorney Doug Mann had no comment two weeks ago, when he walked into the first round of exit interviews with the state auditor's office.

The Broken Arrow School Board asked for the investigative audit back in 2009, when questions were raised about its relationship with a vendor, Air Assurance.

After 16 months of investigation, the results of the audit are on the verge of being released to the public on Thursday.

Broken Arrow School Board members have undergone two rounds of exit interviews, meeting in three groups.

Their attorneys from Rosenstein Fist & Ringold were present for all of them. The auditor's office says that's not out of the ordinary.

But the role and the cost of the school's attorneys was an issue raised in the rough draft of the auditor's report leaked to members of the media last week.

According to the rough draft, the district's lawyers charged the school system more than $160,000 from August of 2008 to June of 2009.

The draft sites specific examples of legal bills like $200charged to Broken Arrow Schools for attorneys to attend and videotape this Air Assurance news conference.

Parents and one school board member criticized the high cost of the legal bills back in October of 2008, but then board member Maryanne Flippo said at the time the law firm was worth every penny.

Before the district hired Rosenstein Fist and Ringold it paid only $8,500 in 2008,

Union Schools, which is roughly the same size as Broken Arrow, spent about $104,000 for that same time period.

And Broken Arrow Schools has been involved in on-going litigation, practically since it hired the law firm. The News On 6 asked Broken Arrow Schools to provide more up to date legal bills.

Broken Arrow's Superintendent has called a special board meeting for 5 p.m. Thursday evening to receive the results of the audit.