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School board names new attorney

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education selected a familiar face to serve as its new board attorney Friday.

The board unanimously voted to begin negotiations with Ken Soo of Tharrington Smith, LLP.

The Raleigh firm serves as counsel for 20 school boards across the state and has 15 attorneys who specialize in education law. Soo has represented the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education in court and behind the scenes for roughly 20 years. Most recently, he has acted as the board’s interim attorney during the board attorney hiring process.

Board Chairman Josh Wanger said he, along with other board members, were impressed with the amount of experience of both Soo and Tharrington Smith.

“As a specialty firm, they’ve done very well,” he said. “We’ve had nothing but good experience.”

“It’s sort of a natural continuation of the work we’ve been doing,” Soo said. “I would like to do whatever I can to be of help to the board.”

Soo said that depending on what the board decides, he would probably serve as the board’s primary attorney. If needed, however, other attorneys in the Tharrington Smith firm could contribute based on their specialties.

In Soo’s letter of interest, he proposed a monthly retainer of $1,500 a month, which includes attendance at up to two meetings with no additional charge. Other work would be charged in six-minute increments to save the district money on fairly short calls and emails.

The board interviewed four other attorneys Friday – Graham Corriher of Woodson, Sayers, Lawther, Short, LLP in Salisbury; James Middlebrooks of Bell, Davis, Pitt, LLP in Charlotte; Richard Schwartz of Schwarts and Shaw, PLLC in Raleigh and Mark Henriques of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge and Rice in Charlotte.

After the interviews, board members briefly discussed Corriher and Henriques, but the decision ultimately came down to Schwartz and Soo – both of whom have worked with the board extensively in the past.

The school board decided to rebid the board attorney position late last school year. Previous board attorney Don Sayers held the position for roughly 50 years. Sayers reapplied for the position, but was not selected for an interview.

A final contract will be drawn up and approved at the board’s next business meeting at the end of August.

 

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