Desegregation Lawyers Claim Over $ 500,000 in Fees, Pulaski County Special School District Fees
Lawyers for the black students in a long-standing school desegregation lawsuit are asking a federal judge to award them nearly $ 545,000 in costs and expenses from the Pulaski County Special School District after talks over the costs between the parties.
Lawyers for McClendon’s intervenors seek reimbursement of the fees of three attorneys and three desegregation monitors for work done in recent years – including a three-week hearing in 2020 – in the desegregation of the Pulaski County Federal School , 38 years old. trial.
U.S. District Chief Justice D. Price Marshall Jr., the presiding judge in the case, ruled in May that the Pulaski County Special District, which has 12,000 students, had significantly complied with its obligations to desegregation and was entitled to unitary status, that is to say, freedom from judicial supervision. – in all areas, with the exception of resolving inequalities between school buildings.
The issue of how to make the Mills University Studies High School campus coincide with the Robinson Middle School campus is pending before the judge along with the issue of costs.
“The parties entered into negotiations, but were unable to reach an agreement for the interveners to be granted legal fees and other costs incurred in defending the consent decree (Plan 2000)”, wrote attorneys Austin Porter Jr., Robert Pressman and Joyce Raynor Carr. Carr represents the John W. Walker law firm. Walker died in October 2019.
“Intervenor counsel submitted a reasonable amount for attorney’s fees and costs, which is significantly lower than the amount presented in this motion, but this amount was rejected by the Pulaski County Special School District, as advised his lawyer by letter dated September 15, 2021, ”the team of lawyers told Marshall last week.
Devin Bates, a school district attorney, told the school board at this Wednesday meeting that stakeholders initially requested $ 600,000 but offered to reduce that amount by 20%. The district responded with a proposal for a 30% reduction with terms that would allow monthly payments over a year and a commitment that stakeholders would not charge additional fees later.
The interveners responded with an offer of 25% off the initial $ 600,000 and a lump sum payment. The school board, on the recommendation of Superintendent Charles McNulty, rejected the offer at its Wednesday meeting and chose to let the judge decide the amount.
Bates told council the judge was unlikely to grant all of the interveners’ claim, but one that anticipated a payment of a certain amount would be ordered.
McClendon’s attorneys argued to the judge in documents filed Wednesday that intervenors need to get involved in the long-standing case and participate in every step to protect the rights of black students.
“It took the efforts of stakeholders to get a constitutional violator to comply; to do what he should have done a long time ago,” McClendon’s attorneys wrote, demanding payment of fees and costs.
“In this case… stakeholders have played a critical role in bringing the Pulaski County Special School District to near unitary status, with the remaining problem of facilities to be completed. Stakeholders continued to work with the PCSSD to achieve the inequalities that exist with the Mills High School project versus Robinson Middle School. The responders acted like an agitator in a washing machine. Without the agitator, clothes cannot get clean.
The payment requested by McClendon’s attorneys – dated 2017 – is comprised of $ 402,013.50 for three intervenor attorneys, at rates of $ 350 per hour for Pressman and Porter and $ 450 per hour for Walker. The claim for the three desegregation monitors is $ 136,947.25 with Representative Joy Springer, D-Little Rock, a monitor, to receive $ 116,041.75 of this. His hourly rate is $ 137.50. His supervisory colleagues charge an hourly rate of $ 70.
The expenses requested by the interveners total $ 5,968.75.