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County adds funds for extra legal services

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

At Monday’s Washington County Commission meeting, the commission opted to put $105,000 from the county’s general fund toward the county’s legal services.

Washington County Attorney Tom Seeley said the Washington County Board of Education’s litigation needs have increased the amount of services the county has endured. When Commissioner Lynn Hodge asked how much of the dollars spent in legal fees could be attributed to the department of education, Seeley said he didn’t have a figure, but that half of the total figure is “definitely” from the department of education.

“I don’t think tonight I can put a percentage on that,” Seeley said. “I think it’s a significant part of it because it has had some litigation there and we also had an administrative hearing on a personnel matter that was ongoing and lasted for several days. That created some extra expense because we had to actually hire the administrative hearing officer.”

Commissioner and Budget Chairman Joe Grandy said the county budgeted around $280,000 for legal services for the fiscal year. Commission Chairman Greg Matherly added that the $105,000 added to the county’s legal services is projected to cover the county for the remainder of the fiscal year as well as costs prior to Monday night’s commission meeting.

Matherly also added that the county was covering the school board’s legal fees prior to the board’s hiring of its own attorney not provided by the county.

Among other litigation, a lawsuit for $5 million from the former David Crockett High School coach, Gerald Sensabaugh, is pending against the school board and the director of schools. Sensabaugh filed the suit in January with the U.S. District Court, and claimed administrators treaded on Sensabaugh’s first and 14th amendment rights and retaliated against the coach after he sounded off on social media about various topics concerning the school district. Sensabaugh was fired earlier this month after an investigation report concerning the case was released and recommended Sensabaugh’s termination.

The next county commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 23 at 6 p.m. at the justice center. The next school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington County Department of Education.