Payment of legal fees for Prince George’s school board chair | Media Pyro



County council member and former school board member Edward Burroughs III has asked the Maryland state attorney general to investigate school funds being used to pay attorney fees for the Prince George school board chair Juanita Miller’s legal battle to remain on the board.

The district’s school board revealed the expenses last week after it discovered invoices showing fees paid to Miller’s lawyers who are fighting him from the state board of education for malfeasance in the office, indifference to work and unemployment. Prince George’s school board members said they were unaware of the fees and did not approve of them.

The invoices, first reported by Fox 5 and obtained by The Post, show that at least $32,280 of the school’s money was sent to MarcusBonsib LLC — the law firm representing Miller, and apparently approved by the vice chairman of the board Sonya. William. One of the numbers was marked “SW” and “OK to pay” he wrote.

Miller did not comment on the charges for the legal fees. In an announcement Friday, Miller said he was busy working during early voting and Election Day but will “communicate” now that his schedule is more flexible. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

“There is a lot of information that has not been shared, so if the media investigates, then the information will be revealed,” Williams said in an interview at Thursday’s meeting. “But because this is a legal matter, I am not at liberty to comment.” He declined to answer further questions about the numbers.

Alsobrooks asked Pr. Board of Education chair George Miller resigns

Burroughs’ letter to state investigators, dated Nov. 4, said the actions of Miller and Williams were in “serious violation” of the board’s policy that prohibits all practices that are perceived as fraudulent, wasteful or abusive. The policy defines fraud as “any act for personal gain, without obligation” and mentions “unauthorized signing of documents” and “invoices.” He also cited another board policy that prohibits board members from acting in the name of the board, unless approved by the board.

“The apparent misappropriation of tens of thousands of dollars in tax dollars” should be investigated, Burroughs wrote, and if confirmed, “those in authority should be held accountable and tax dollars paid.”

The federal prosecutor and the inspector general for education did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

The board has no policy that prohibits it from paying members’ legal fees, said Meghan Gebreselassie, a spokeswoman for the school system. The school board provided all the required documents and authorizations for processing the loan, Gebreselassie wrote in an email Friday. “This is a serious matter for the Board of Education and the no it’s an administrative question,” he said.

School board members discussed Miller’s legal fees privately at a board meeting Thursday night, two people with direct knowledge of the meeting said. The people, who were not named because the deal happened during a closed-door meeting, said the charges were related. The issue was not discussed publicly at Thursday’s meeting, although some board members said it should be.

The Maryland State Board of Education’s charges against Miller in May stemmed from a complaint alleging wrongdoing by a group of current and former board members. Miller has also resisted a call to resign from her seat by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who appointed Miller as board chair last year.

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 28 on the charges filed against Miller by the state board of education. The ongoing legal battle could last until Dec. 21, when new state laws allowing local school boards to choose their own leadership are set to go into effect.

Thursday’s meeting was the last for Williams, who did not seek re-election this year.


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