Thirteen law firms submitted bids to become the new legal counsel for Proviso Township High School District 209 after the school board made a request for proposals in September. After a discussion in closed session on Oct. 16, the board chose five to interview face-to-face on Oct. 26.
The firms chosen were firms who have long and wide-ranging experience in both municipal and school district representation, including Franczek-Radelet P.C.; Hauser Izzo, LLC; Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP; Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn LLP and Robbins Schwartz/Grasso Bass.
The board graded the 13 proposals on a rubric they developed based on references from other school districts and experience in areas of school law like special education, TIF districts, employee grievance and mediation and student discipline. The board also gave points for Spanish-speaking attorneys on staff and racial diversity among attorneys and staff.
The majority of the board has wanted to replace Del Galdo Law Group since the school board election in April.
Michael Del Galdo and, later, Del Galdo Law Group have served as the district’s counsel since 2007. Del Galdo and his firm are prolific donors to political campaign committees. In the most recent election, the firm gave an in-kind donation of $8,200 for printing costs to the losing Proviso Children’s First Party.
The district’s five new five legal suitors are, for the most part, firms that specialize in education law, representing dozens of school districts. All of the firms are located in Chicago, except for Arlington Heights-based Hodges Loizzi and Oak Brook-based Hauser Izzo.
In April, a Chicago Tribune analysis determined Proviso District 209 spent $43.19 per student on school district legal bills in fiscal year 2013. That year, the district paid Del Galdo Law Group $182,877 and paid $32,500 to school discipline hearing attorney Brian Carey, according to watchdog site www.Openthebooks.com, which uses Illinois State Board of Education documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
Firms that submitted a bid but didn’t make the cut were: Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, DiCianni & Krafthefer, P.C.; Del Galdo Law Group; Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd.; Mickey, Wilson, Weiler, Renzi & Andersson, P.C.; Odelson & Sterk; Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo; Whitt Law, LLC and Whitted Tankiff & Hansen.
Settlement on retaliatory firing suit
The Proviso Township High School District 209 board approved a settlement of $75,000 for a security guard who sued the district for an alleged retaliatory firing that took place in 2013.
In a suit filed in April 7, 2014 in Cook County Circuit Court, Robert Taylor III alleged he discovered that Proviso East Assistant Principal for Educational Services Kisha Lang was using school staff to run personal errands for her.
Taylor said in the suit that he was fired July 25, 2013 after he told Proviso East Principal Tony Valente and other supervisors about the situation.
Lang was dismissed from the district in September 2014. The board approved the payment to Taylor at a May board meeting. In October, the Forest Park Review received a copy of the settlement agreement under the Freedom of Information Act.
In the agreement, Taylor agreed not to sue the district again, and said he would not “disparage in any way the board, district or its employees publicly or privately.”