Law & Courts A National Roundup

New Orleans Board Seeks Order to Force Hiring of Consulting Firm

By Jeff Archer — June 07, 2005 1 min read

The New Orleans school board has voted to seek a court order forcing the board’s president to approve the hiring of outside consultants to fix the district’s finances.

At issue is an agreement drafted by state education officials that would put a private contractor picked by the state in charge of the Orleans Parish school system’s fiscal management for two years. State Superintendent Cecil J. Picard called for the arrangement after an audit questioned the district’s spending of $70 million in federal Title I aid. (“State Vows to Fix Finances in New Orleans,” March 9, 2005.)

Mr. Picard has said he plans to hire the New York City-based Alvarez & Marsal, a corporate-turnaround company that temporarily ran the financially strapped St. Louis public schools.

Although the school board voted 4-3 for the plan late last month, board President Torin Sanders said he would not sign it until a state ethics panel reviewed the document. He said it doesn’t allow for school board oversight of the contractor, for which the 70,000-student district would pay.

Last week, the same four board members who approved the state’s plan agreed to seek a writ of mandamus in state court that would order Mr. Sanders to sign the agreement.

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