According to the Regional School Committee 9/22/10 minutes, "By a vote of five to four, the committee voted to hire Dupere and Dupere to provide the district’s legal representation for Special Education services."
On 11/30/10 a concerned parent asked the Regional School Committee why Gini Tate was still serving as Special Education counsel for the region: "Mr. Rhodes explained that the School Committee had to negotiate an agreement with the new Special Education attorney, which then had to be ratified by each School Committee. As a result, the contract with the new firm does not begin until December 1, 2010." Of course that was the very next day--or so you would think.
Meanwhile in another part of the space time continuum, on 11/13/10 to be exact--three weeks after the school committee vote to--effectively fire attorney Tate as Special Education counsel, a parent filed suit against the Amherst school district.
Dupere and Dupere started on December 1st at a fixed, all-you-can-litigate, annual cost of $36,000. The first official response to the parent filing suit from Attorney Tate's office concerning the case is dated--you guessed it--December 1st. Pretty quick response for an attorney, eh?
So, rather than having Dupere handle the matter at no additional cost to the taxpayers, the schools--in violation of a School Committee vote--hire attorney Tate, at $220/hour fee plus four hour round trip travel time from her office in Quincy.
The parent who filed suit on November 13 withdrew the action, then refiled on April 4, 2011, using a different legal approach thus providing yet another technical reason Dupere should be handling the case at no additional taxpayer cost.
I asked Regional School Committee chair Rick Hood for an explanation and received this curious response:
"There were three cases carried over from the transition between Dupere and MHLT (Attorney Tate). Two of the cases have reached conclusion and/or are awaiting the BSEA to issue their decision. The third case was a re-filing of a case where MHLT (Attorney Tate) had already worked extensively on it during the FY11 school year prior to Dupere being appointed the new SE attorney. Probably this is the case you are referring to.
Where MHLT was already deeply involved in a case it was thought best (and less expensive) to keep MHLT on it."
Less expensive? You can tell Mr. Hood has an extensive background with yachting! How could Attorney Tate have "worked extensively" or have been "deeply involved" on a case that was originally filed on November 13 with her initial response dated December 1, only two-and-a-half weeks later?
Obviously attorney Tate became a comfortable fixture in the Good Ol' Girls Network now controlling the schools, and since taxpayers unknowingly cover the tab, she's darn well going to stay--no matter the additional expense.
But how do you put a price on trust?
Cc: Maria Geryk ; Kathy Mazur ; Mary Wallace
Sent: Fri, Aug 5, 2011 11:22 am
Good Morning, Mr. Kelley:
I'm happy to provide the information you requested. The hourly rate for services provided by Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane (Ms. Tate's firm) is $220.00. The School Committee vote to hire Dupere and Dupere for the districts' Special Education services and Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane for the districts' general counsel was taken on September 22, 2010. I've attached the minutes for your convenience.
Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent
You would think that somebody on this Cc list knew all too well that Ms. Tate was still involved in a Special Education case, and could have clarified this response.