Lawsuit Abuse Must End

November 30, 2010

OCPA trustee Bill Price believes it’s time we take a look at “the high cost and secretive nature of large legal fees caused by school districts suing and being sued by others.”

A former U.S. Attorney, Mr. Price is perhaps best known for his prosecution of the County Commissioner corruption scandal, one of the largest political corruption cases in U.S. history. For that work Price earned a Special Achievement Award from the United States Department of Justice. Now an attorney in private practice, he devotes considerable time and energy to his duties as an OCPA trustee. He is particularly interested in education reform. Mr. Price writes:

“School districts have spent significant taxpayer dollars fighting the charter school law in the courts, and a number have threatened to sue the state challenging other educational reforms. Other districts have failed to implement the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program, forcing parents of children with disabilities to sue them in order to enforce the law. This lawsuit abuse must end. We should put a stop to one state entity suing another and forcing the taxpayers to pay for both sides. At a minimum, a school district should pay a price for forcing parents to uphold the law. A school district should be required to seek an Attorney General’s opinion before suing the state or paying attorneys to defend suits.

“Furthermore, there may be tremendous cost savings in having the Attorney General’s office represent school boards in all suits. At a minimum, if a school board receives an unfavorable AG’s opinion and still pursues or invites litigation against the state or others without cause, the district’s state funding formula amount should be reduced by the amount of the attorneys’ fees and cost of litigation.”

Make no mistake, a new day is dawning at NE 23 & Lincoln. Come January, Oklahoma will have a center-right government unlike anything in state history. Lawsuit abuse, especially the kind that harms Oklahoma’s most vulnerable children, must end.