by Max Brantley
The lawyers for LR School Superintendent Roy Brooks are running up the bill this weekend. They've filed an amendment to their lawsuit adding the whole Little Rock School Board as defendants for the purposes of getting an injunction against the suspension hearing set Monday and against any participation by School Board members Katheirne Mitchell and Michael Daugherty in actions pertaining to Brooks.
Judge G. Thomas Eisele had raised questions about the lack of the School Board as a defendant. Of course it should be included. The lawsuit was mounted against Mitchell and Daugherty individually simply to personally damage them and strip them of their elected powers. But, before they could be removed, they took the step of hiring trial lawyer Chip Welch to handle legal representation for the School Board on the proceedings against Brooks. Uh oh. The School Board has had vigorous and effective representation, exactly what the Walter Hussman, er, excuse me, the Willliams and Anderson law firm had hoped to avoid by isolating Mitchell and Brooks. That's why the new motion raises new legal arguments against Welch representing the board. His deal hasn't been formalized, they argue, though we certainly heard four members vote to hire him last week. Such interest in formalities. Where were these sticklers for procedure when the School Board didn't vote -- and the public wasn't notified -- about Brooks' FOI-avoidiing secret deal with Williams and Anderson client Hussman for a little pet project.
1) For a man who keeps saying he wants a public hearing, Roy Brooks is fighting awfully hard to keep one from occurring. Do you think, maybe, there are some witnesses that he doesn't want to be given the light of day?
2) Brooks' lawyers hate fighting on a level legal playing field.
3) Brooks' supporters best not be myopic about the scorched-earth legal strategy being pursued to save one divisive school superintendent's hide. They may win the battle. But if they disenfranchise 30 percent of the city of Little Rock by removing the elected Mitchell and Daugherty from supervision of a hired hand, hello NAACP Legal Defense Fund, hello pitched racial unrest and perhaps hello to a Brinkley boycott replay to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1957 school crisis.
4) It takes brass, or the rawest form of arrogance, to file a legal pleading complaining about the LRSD being in federal court after having just been released, WHEN YOU ARE THE PARTY THAT PUT THE DISTRICT IN COURT.
Stop the bleeding. Begin buyout negotiations, preferably at a duly noticed regular Board meeting. For leverage, the Board also should again set the firing hearing at a regular School Board meeting to which full notice was given. They should, after proper notice, also readopt the list of particulars against Brooks, including several pertinent items omitted by the Friday firm. That might nudge him toward good faith negotiations. I'd prefer simply to cut the knot and buy him out. Brooks is damaged goods and beyond repair. If he wins this legal battle, the Little Rock School District loses the enusing war. He's not worth it.