Investigation into Guilford County Athletics could prove costly

Posted by Andy Durham on April 27, 2009 at 10:31 am under High School | 5 Comments to Read

Did a some yahoo research and came across this piece by Eric Frazier in the Charlotte Observer from March 30th of this year. This is not to say that this will be the case here, but the probe into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools did get very expensive. Be prepared, investigations can prove costly……

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools rang up $1.2 million in legal fees with a prominent law firm last budget year, much of it fueled by lengthy probes of athletics eligibility cheating and possible manipulation of dropout rates.

The fees, paid to the McGuire Woods firm for 2007-08, drew objections from several board members and sparked a billing dispute between the firm and former CMS general counsel Regina Bartholomew.

The $1.2 million paid the firm represented nearly twice as much as it collected from CMS the previous year. The firm’s lawyers have been working off and on for CMS since 1993. One of the lawyers, Gil Middlebrooks, attributed the increase to two investigations the firm was asked to conduct: a look into dropout rates at Myers Park High and a lengthy probe into whether schools and families broke eligibility rules to get athletes on elite high school sports teams.

McGuire Woods lawyers spent two months and at least 480 hours on the Myers Park probe, and found no evidence the school forced struggling students to drop out or falsified attendance records.

The probe of sports cheating, which began in late 2007 and stretched into 2008, scrutinized more than 200 student athletes. At least 20 were declared ineligible. Four coaches resigned or were removed, and at least four high schools forfeited football seasons.

Superintendent Peter Gorman and school board chairwoman Molly Griffin said the firm’s bills reflected the legitimate cost of conducting complicated, expensive probes. At Independence High alone, a five-month investigation cost $96,000.

“McGuire Woods did what they needed to do to represent us,” Gorman said.

Added Griffin: “Those were things we had to have an outside investigation of. I think they did a good job.”

But school board members Kaye McGarry, Ken Gjertsen and Larry Gauvreau questioned either the cost or the need for the probes, which followed reports in the Observer about possible improprieties at high schools.

Gauvreau called the firm’s 2007-08 billing total “outrageous,” and charged that Gorman and other officials called in lawyers to give a public appearance of being tough on the alleged cheating.

“It’s all about image,” he said. “We’ve got too many lawyers floating around CMS.”

Middlebrooks said the firm does superior work and charges accordingly. It bills CMS $275 an hour for most services, which he called a discount from McGuire Woods’ usual corporate rate.

*****for full details, go to www.wcnc.com/news/local/stories/wcnc-033009-al-cms_tab.86b6099a.html


  • Basketball Fan said,

    If baffles me that the county can find the money to investigate things of this nature but cant find the money to hire good teachers, get the books in classrooms, get schools repaired, etc etc. Didnt we just have some layoffs? We are the priorities? There are a whole lot of questions but no answers. I can understand GCS not answering but what about the interim principal @ Northern. The students have yet to see her but new rules are being implemented everyday and no communication to the parents. This is being handled very tacky. My heart goes out to the students and the parents of NGHS as majority of them are not involved in any athletics.

  • Mo's Fan said,

    If this can stop cheating and recruiting(or at least slow it down) it is a good thing.

  • Insider said,

    This principal, Speicer, is just a person the county planted there to find some evidence that NG did wrong. She has no personality and doesn’t care about the kids at all. She is Mo’s personal witch sent to stir the pot!

  • Wahoos1017 said,

    If NG did nothing wrong, then they have nothing to worry about.

  • PEACESEEKER said,

    THE POSTS ON HERE ARE UNBELIEVABLE. IT IS LIKE A BUNCH OF VIPERS WAITING TO STRIKE. THE SADDEST PART OF IT ALL IS THAT THE VICTIMS ARE OUR KIDS. LIVING IN THIS CRAZY WORLD IS HARD ENOUGH WITH A PLUNGING ECONOMY, COUNTRIES AT WAR, AND UNTREATABLE ILLNESSES ABOUNDING. WHAT POSSIBLE REASON DO WE HAVE TO MAKE THINGS MORE DIFFICULT??

    WE SHOULD BE TRYING TO REAPIR OUR ECONOMY, SEEK OUT WORLD PEACE, FIND THE CURE FOR CANCER AND AIDS, NOT SPENDING ASTRONOMICAL AMOUNTS OF MONEY TO FIND OUT IF A KIDS LIVES IN THE RIGHT HOUSE TO ATTEND A SCHOOL!!!!!

    OUR KIDS ARE OUR FUTURE. BE GLAD ANY OF THEM WANT TO DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE LIKE PLAY SPORTS, GET AN EDUCATION,…BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF OPTIONS TO DO OTHER TRULY HORRIBLE THINGS.

    THIS IS LIKE A WITCH HUNT…WITH NORTHERN TIED TO THE STAKE.

    NORTHERN IS A BEAUTIFUL SCHOOL WITH MANY WONDERFUL KIDS, PARENTS, AND TEACHERS, AND OPPORTNITIES FOR OUR CHIDLREN TO GROW AND BE SUCCESSFUL IN MANY AREAS.. WHY MUST WE TRY TO MAR IT WITH UGLINESS AND HATRED.

    IT’S LIKE LOOKING AT A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN AND THEN STOMPING ON EVERY BLOOM.

    GROW UP GREENSBORO!!!!