|2016 MD State Legislative Audit of MCPS|
The media has not reported on the 2016 State Audit of the Montgomery County Public School system, but the Parents' Coalition did follow up on this issue flagged by the Auditor. We have obtained invoices from the Board of Education's outside attorney who handles special education litigation from October 2015 through May 2016.
These invoices show that the outside attorney handling Board of Education special education litigation never accounts for the hours spent on a case unless the matter goes to Federal Court.
The billing arrangement that the Board of Education has approved with this outside attorney enables the attorney to take a minimum fee of $3,150 on every case set to go before an Administrative Law Judge. Even if a case is immediately withdrawn or settled, the minimum fee is $3,150.
If a case goes before an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing, the fee is then based on how long the attorney can extend the proceeding. One day before a Judge earns a $6,300 fee, no matter how much time was actually expended on the case prior to the day of the hearing.
The $6,300 daily fee equates to 26 hours of time based on this attorney's billing rate of $245.
Every day spent before a Judge, earns the attorney another 26 hours of fees, regardless of how many hours have actually been spent on the case.
In this set of bills we see the following days charged on non-Federal Court matters. On non-Federal Court matters, from October through April (7 months) this attorney billed the Board of Education for the equivalent of 904 hours or 23 weeks of full-time work. We know this attorney represents other public school systems in Maryland.
Is the Montgomery County Board of Education obtaining the "best value" for these education dollars?
Here is a list of the cases shown on the invoices obtained by the Parents' Coalition. For each case (shown by #), we have grouped together the charges shown on the invoices below. We have divided up the charges by the hourly rate of $245 to shown how many hours would have to have been billed to have earned the charges shown. The Board of Education has no idea if the charges shown on the invoices are justified, as the BOE does not require the attorney to actually detail the hours spent on each case.
2015 October Case withdrawn #29318 $3,150 = 13 hours
2015 October Attend 1 day #31838 $6,300 = 26 hours
2015 November 1/2 day #31838 $3,150 = 13 hours Total = 39 hours
2015 November 6 1/2 days #28847 $34,650 = 141 hours
2015 December 1 day #28847 $6,300 = 26 hours
2016 January 4 days #28847 $25,200 = 103 hours Total = 270 hours
2015 December 1/2 day #36487 $3,150 = 13 hours
2015 December 4 days #35653 $25,200 = 103 hours
2016 January 3 days #35653 $18,900 = 77 hours Total = 180 hours
2016 February Case withdrawn #18051 $3,150 = 13 hours
2016 February 4 days #41442 $25,200 = 103 hours
2016 March 4 days #41442 $25,200 = 103 hours
2016 April 4 days #41442 $25,200 = 103 hours Total = 309 hours
2016 March Case withdrawn #05236 $3,150 = 13 hours
2016 March Case withdrawn #07725 $3,150 = 13 hours
2016 March Case withdrawn #05278 $3,150 = 13 hours
2016 March Case withdrawn # 04604 $3,150 = 13 hours
2016 April Case withdrawn #08826 $3,150 = 13 hours