Lawsuit costs school district $240K in attorney fees - WSMV News 4

Lawsuit costs school district $240K in attorney fees

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GALLATIN, TN (WSMV) -

For more than three years, the Sumner County School Board has engaged in a legal battle with activist Ken Jakes over whether the district should have to accept public records requests via email.

The legal battle is now over and the district has changed its records request policy.

According to The Gallatin News, the district spent more than $240,000 in attorney fees.

State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, believes it was a waste of money.

“It’s unfortunate because who are the victims in this? The victims are the kids and the classrooms and schools and the taxpayer,” Weaver said.

“The questions need to be asked. Number one, why so long? And number two, what could we have done to avoid the funding of $250,000? That’s a lot of money,” Weaver added.

News 4 took those questions to Sumner County School Board member Jim Hawkins. He was the only board member who agreed to speak about the lawsuit.

“The board did not seek the lawsuit. The board was targeted by the plaintiff in this case,” Hawkins said.

It’s unclear whether Jakes was willing to settle out of court. Judge Dee David Gray said Jakes seemed prepared to file a lawsuit “as soon as he got out of the starting blocks.”

According to Hawkins, the lawsuit was unavoidable.

“I am not happy it ended up costing the money that it did. But we were sued by the individual and we had to answer the lawsuit. And lawsuits, when you hire attorneys, they tell me it takes money,” Hawkins said.

The Sumner County School Board has budgeted $600,000 for legal fees in the current fiscal year.

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