School Board President Voted Out
HARRISBURG, Aug. 2, 2011
BY MELANIE HERSCHORN
For The Patriot-News
The president of the Harrisburg School Board was stripped of his title Monday night.
A majority of board members, responding to a motion by former president Lola Lawson, voted to remove Roy Christ from his post.
“We need new leadership for this board, leadership that will pull us all together,” Lawson said.
Esther Edwards, Sonja Houston, Jeunetta Lewis and Patricia Whitehead-Myers supported the coup.
At the next meeting on Aug. 15, board members will likely choose a new president.
Christ said the ouster does not upset him.
“It’s fine,” he said. “This is a democracy.” What concerned Christ more is another issue stirred up by Lawson, which violated the state’s Sunshine Act, he said.
Lawson presented a motion, not on the agenda, to hire a new solicitor for the district.
The same five members who voted to overthrowChrist approved hiring Samuel T. Cooper III of the Harrisburg law firm Dilworth Paxson LLP for the post.
Christ says the five members openly admitted to getting together privately, before themeeting, meaning they had quorum.
He thinks the action also “violated a multitude of school codes.”
Christ said he doubts that Cooper will accept the offer without going through the proper channels and meeting with the Human Resources Committee.
“Mr. Cooper is a man of integrity,” he said.
Lawson said she believed Cooper, a product of the Harrisburg School District, would be on board no matter how his appointment as solicitor came about.
“We need someone we can trust that understands this community,” Lawson said. “We don’t have anybody, quite frankly, that is watching our backs, and that’s what we need.”
Edwards was equally adamant about the district’s need to hire a solicitor.
“Now listen and hear this: It’s time we voted a law firm in,” she said in a raised voice. “It’s time we made a decision collectively.”
The goal of Lawson’s motion was to ensure that a solicitor is present at all meetings.
The motion calls for utilizing Cooper’s services “pending approval of a financial agreement.”
The district has worked with Saul Ewing LLP in the past, but that contract has expired.