Five Omaha school board members will serve on a temporary committee that will further examine the board's relationship with its legal counsel.
President Freddie Gray appointed members of the committee at Monday night's board meeting. They are Justin Wayne and three of the following four board members — Marian Fey, Shirley Tyree, Nancy Huston and Bambi Bartek. Gray will serve as an ex-officio member.
Wayne, a labor relations attorney with Union Pacific Corp., originally wasn't appointed to the committee. Gray appointed him later in Monday's meeting, after related discussion and a point-blank request by another board member that he serve on the committee. Gray said she would ask one of her original appointees to step aside to make room for Wayne.
Wayne earlier had asked that the board invite other law firms to submit proposals for handling the district's legal services.
He said he was concerned about the advice that Elizabeth Eynon-Kokrda of the law firm Baird Holm provided to Gray after she and Eynon-Kokrda learned that Nancy Sebring, then Omaha Public Schools superintendent-to-be, had resigned her previous job because of racy emails she sent on a school computer. Sebring resigned from the OPS job on June 2 after newspapers published stories about the emails.
On Monday evening, Wayne repeated his request to solicit proposals from other law firms. He asked why the matter wasn't on the agenda.
Gray said it wasn't board policy to request proposals for legal services. The board doesn't have a contract with its attorney, using legal services only as needed, she said.
After Wayne and Gray exchanged additional comments, and after some board discussion, board member Kersten Borer questioned whether the committee's representation was broad enough.
“Some people were asked, and some people weren't,” she said.
Additional discussion followed, after which Borer asked that Wayne, the lone lawyer on the board, be appointed to the ad hoc committee.
If Wayne wants to be on the committee, he can be, Gray responded. Wayne accepted.
Marian Fey asked last month that an ad hoc committee be formed so members could review board policy about how it gets and shares information with its attorney. The temporary committee also could look at best practices and what policies are in place elsewhere.
It will report back to the 12-member board every couple of weeks and could have a policy recommendations by December.
The committee will not be required to publicly announce its meeting times because it doesn't have a quorum of members.