The changes have begun at Lyons-Brookfield Elementary School District 103.
In the school board’s first full meeting since new members Marge Hubacek and Shannon Johnson were sworn in on April 27, the new majority of the school board has fired the law firm brought in two years ago and rehired the district’s old firm, Robbins Schwartz.
Robbins Schwartz is one of the top law firms in the Chicago area representing school districts.
The school board voted 4 to 3 to hire Robbins Schwartz at a special meeting held on May 2. Voting in favor of hiring the new firm were Hubacek, Johnson, Sharon Anderson, and Joanne Schaeffer.
“I trust Robbins Schwartz,” said Hubacek, the new president of the school board. “They’re very well aware of what the district had gone through and the history, and so they are ready to jump on board mostly. My number one priority is that they are school attorneys. They are not municipal lawyers. We don’t have to bring anyone up to speed. They know us.”
On May 8, the school board voted 4 to 3 to officially terminate the law firm Odelson & Sterk, which was hired two years when candidates elected with the support of Lyons Village President Christopher Getty gained control of the school board.
Odelson & Sterk also serves as the law firm representing the village of Lyons and the head of the firm, Burt Odelson, is perhaps the top election lawyer in the Chicago area.
Voting to retain Odelson & Sterk were Michael Bennett, Coleen Shipbaugh and Jorge Torres, the three remaining school board members with links to Getty.
Bennett said that he had misgivings about changing law firms in the midst of an FBI investigation, apparently referring to the fact that Anderson and Schaeffer testified before a federal grand jury apparently investigating corruption linked to Cicero and a hardware store that has done business with District 103. Anderson and Schaeffer say that they were told that they and District 103 are not targets of the investigation.
Prior to board vote to hire Robbins Schwartz, two of the firm’s partners, Phillip H. Grener III and Heidi Katz, met with the school board during executive session to introduce themselves to the school board and talk about their firm.
Robbins Schwartz will charge District 103 a monthly retainer of $100 and will answer routine telephone inquiries for no extra charge. For more involved work, Robbins Schwartz will bill the district at hourly rates from $195 to $245 an hour for attorney services and $135 an hour for paralegal services.
In other action last week, the school board also voted to change the night of school board meetings from Thursday to Monday, reversing a decision the Getty-controlled school board made two years ago. The board will now hold regular meetings on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.
The board also voted 4 to 3 to abolish all late start days from next year’s school calendar.
“This is based on an outcry from parents and teachers,” Hubacek said before the vote. “Staff complained and it was an ongoing complaint. Late start days are very common at a high school, but we are not a high school.”