Legal fees for ethics questions pile up
Legal fees over the past month
• $4,101 to Ratwik, Roszak and Maloney of Minneapolis.
• $3,391 to Parker Rosen LLC of Minneapolis.
• $1,851 to Larkin, Hoffman, Daly and Lindgren of Minneapolis.
• $1,327 to Johnson and Condon of Minneapolis.
• $1,125 to Adams, Rizzi and Sween of Austin.
By Karen Colbenson
Austin Public Schools has paid more than $11,500 in legal fees over the past month related to board-related investigations.
According to a check-summary report presented by Finance Director Lori Volz and approved by the school board, as of Monday, $1,125 in legal fees has been paid to Adams, Rizzi and Sween of Austin; $4,101 in legal fees has been paid to Ratwik, Roszak and Maloney of Minneapolis; $1,327 in legal fees has been paid to Johnson and Condon of Minneapolis; $1,851 was paid for Larkin, Hoffman, Daly and Lindgren of Minneapolis; and $3,391 in legal fees was paid to Parker Rosen LLC of Minneapolis. Superintendent Candace Raskin said all of the expenses are attributed to the investigations.
Board member Richard Lees questioned several of the items on the expense report, including each legal fee.
Raskin told Lees the legal fees stemmed from investigations that were done at the request of community members with the support of a few of the board members.
One board member, Rude, who faces single felony counts of theft and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance, as well as a gross-misdemeanor count of interfering with property in official custody, is accused of illegally removing evidence from the law enforcement evidence room on Nov. 6, the same day he was elected to the school board.
Since the charges surfaced, several community members have approached the school board asking Rude to step down or take a leave of absence.
The investigations by various law firms have delved into whether board members have violated the code of conduct.
In February in a split vote, the board voted to cease further investigations on the matter.