Taxpayers charged $200,000 so far in 'Yes for Schools' lawsuit i - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Taxpayers charged $200,000 so far in 'Yes for Schools' lawsuit in Berkeley County

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Taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $200,000 so far because of the "Yes for schools" lawsuit investigation in Berkeley County. Taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $200,000 so far because of the "Yes for schools" lawsuit investigation in Berkeley County.
BERKELEY COUNTY, SC - Taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $200,000 so far because of the "Yes for schools" lawsuit investigation in Berkeley County and that number is expected to continue to grow.

News 2 filed a Freedom of Information Act request, and learned that a lot of money has been paid to several people due to this investigation.
  1. $57,613.87 in legal fees paid to the district's attorney's at the law firm of Child's and Halligan due to the initial investigation that resulted in a grand jury indictment of the district's Communications Director, Amy Kovach.
  2. $48,385.81 in legal fees paid to Kovach's attorney, Jerry Theos. In his first interview with the news media, Theos told News 2 that his client does not dispute the majority of the facts in the case, but he says everything she did was within the scope of her employment.
  3. $30,000 paid to Debbie Barbier, the attorney who represents deputy superintendent Archie Franchini, who was also investigated during the case.
  4. $45,195.39 paid to district attorneys Child's and Halligan to pay their costs of defending the lawsuit filed by former school board member Terry Hardesty and others against board chairman Dr. Kent Murray claiming he violated their rights by not allowing the public to talk about the yes for schools investigation during the public comment portion of board meetings.
In total, the amount already paid by taxpayers in this case is $181,195.07.

Related: SLED delivers report on Berkeley County's 'Yes For Schools' campaign to SC Attorney General

But that is only part of what has been paid due to the case. Another significant amount of money has been paid by the district's insurance company.  The district says their insurance company paid for Murray's attorney fees in that secondary lawsuit. The insurance company also paid the full settlement amount once the district reached a settlement in that case. Sources tell News 2 that the settlement amount is believed to be $65,000.

The district did not release the exact dollar amount paid on the district's behalf by the insurance company.

The costs will continue to increase. The school board recently voted to hire former Circuit Judge Vic Rawl to do research and give them more information. That information will be used to help determine whether the board should continue paying Amy Kovach's attorney fees now that she has been charged with a crime.

The district tells News 2, "The district expects to pay a reasonable and appropriate fee for Judge Rawl's services."

While he couldn't give an exact dollar amount that he would be paid, News 2 spoke to Judge Rawl just before he was officially hired, and he told us his usual rate is $250 per hour. He was not sure how many hours he would need to work on this project News 2 spoke with Terri Banks, owner of Ova Yonder Restaurant in Moncks Corner. She said that kind of money going to a lawsuit is sad. "I think it's a shame that taxpayers money is going towards something… that's not benefitting our children."

Another cost that has not been paid at this point by taxpayers is any attorney fees for Superintendent Rodney Thompson's attorney. He was also investigated as part of the investigation.

No word on how much those fees are, or whether the district will ever be paying those fees.
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