A motion to dismiss Childs and Halligan as the legal representatives for the Fairfield County School District failed to garner enough votes to go forward during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Fairfield County School Board. A second motion, to ask the S.C. Bar Association for an inquiry into how the District has been represented by the Columbia law firm, failed to get a second.
“We need someone who is more focused on providing the Board with legal advice and not getting involved in Board decisions that are not legal in nature,” said Board member Annie McDaniel, who placed both motions on the floor.
The motion to dismiss Childs and Halligan pulled only three votes — Marchella Pauling, Bobby Cunningham and McDaniel.
McDaniel said Wednesday afternoon that she would like to see the Board use local representation, the way other local governing bodies in Fairfield County do, but Board Chairwoman Andrea Harrison disagreed.
“My question is, which attorney in Fairfield County has school district experience?” Harrison said. “There’s a difference between school district law and corporate law and defense law.”
McDaniel, meanwhile, said she felt the district could get better representation elsewhere.
“We’ve had some of the biggest school district attorneys in the state, and sometimes you have to wonder if they’re giving us the best advice or if they’re just monopolizing the market,” McDaniel said.
Harrison also said that McDaniel’s second motion, to request an inquiry from the S.C. Bar Association, took everyone by surprise.
“I have no problem with the representation Childs and Halligan provide us, and I don’t want to go into an open session and say I’m going to send anything to the Bar Association to say they’ve done something unethical,” Harrison said.
While Harrison did say that she wasn’t entirely happy with the way Childs and Halligan handled the Board’s process of termination of former superintendent Dr. Patrice Robinson last year, she said that did not meet the threshold of “unethical”.
“Doing something I don’t like and doing something unethical are two different things,” Harrison said. “To overtly demean someone’s reputation in open session was horrible.”
But McDaniel said her motion was not to send a complain to the Bar Association, but to only request an inquiry.
“Several things have occurred that appear as though they may have been a conflict and not handled properly,” McDaniel said. “I think some Board members may have thought it was a complaint, but it was not. It was an inquiry to determine if there was a conflict and if things were handled appropriately.”