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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, May 29, 2014

King, Spry Advised Not to Report School Sexual Abuse

Last week, I told you that the King, Spry law firm firm billed the Bangor Area School District $178,000 in 2013 and $202,000 in 2012 even though it was involved in no outside litigation. Don Spry even charged to fill out his Ethics Act statement. These annual payments seem excessive to me. More importantly,they seem excessive to some school directors. But the firm has come under criticism for something much more serious than money. The complaining party is not some disgruntled mom or dad, but the Dauphin County Grand Jury. 

According to a report released late January, the Grand Jury investigated why the Susquehanna School District took so long to notify police about a sexual relationship between a teacher, who was later charged, and a 16 year old female student. The bureaucrats looked at it from the perspective that someone was spreading false rumors instead of determining whether there really was abuse. As it turns out, there was, and it continued for months despite the administration's knowledge of these allegations. They refrained refrained from making a report to the police on the advice of their solicitor. The King Spry firm.

According to the Grand Jury, which filed no charges, "This advice unnecessarily delayed discovery of [the teacher's] criminal conduct ... and potentially endangered other students."

Amazingly, King Spry partner John Freund defended keeping police out of the loop, called the Grand Jury's findings "unfounded" and denied that students were at risk. They weren't just at risk. One of them was being abused.

The King,Spry firm, which loves to contribute to the politicians, was promptly fired.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anybody check to see how many school districts have gotten rid of this bunch?

Anonymous said...

They are still with Allentow School Disrict.

Anonymous said...

One of the worst law firms in the valley- average attorneys- at best- with only one motive- money. Don Spry should be in jail.

Anonymous said...

So who was the actual attorney from King Spry involved in this fiasco?

Anonymous said...

Is this the same John Freund that was a member of the Saucon Valley school board? Kind of odd he would sweep such allegations under the rug at another school.

Anonymous said...

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
-Wm Shakespeare

Anonymous said...

Someone got an ax to grind?

Mike Faccinetto said...

BASD has used King Spry for 6 years. In my time they have been extremely professional, provide sound opinions, and charge reasonable rates. I certainly can't speak for other districts but in Bethlehem we have been, and continue to be well served by the firm.

Anonymous said...

The firefighters and police in Bethlehem have to be drooling over having this firm represent the City in the upcoming contract negotiations. All the hard work the Callahan administration did in getting contracts under control will be gone. Hello 70% pensions again!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Someone got an ax to grind?"

Oh, You would prefer not to know that the Solicitor to many local school districts, including Allentown and Bethlehem, was advising school administrators NOT to report allegations that a teacher was sexually abusing a student. Pointing that out means I have an ax to grind. OK.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mike F,

How much do they charge the school district? I don't do school districts as a rule, but my guess is the firm is overpaid.

I heard the same thing in ASD. A director there tells me how much he likes the firm, but when I ask how much they are paid, he does not know.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So who was the actual attorney from King Spry involved in this fiasco?"

I linked to the report. You can read it and learn.

Anonymous said...

Attorney Freund appears to very arrogent ln his responses to parents in the past. This current statement seems to bear that out

Bill said...

Act 126 requires school employees to report suspected child abuse. How could they be advised otherwise and it be considered "sound" legal advice? Quite disturbing.

Anonymous said...

@Mike Faccinetto:

Perhaps it's time you did something for the taxpayer instead of raising their taxes and shop around to compare rates?

Anonymous said...

@Mike Faccinetto:

Unless you are their insurance carrier and have skin in the game?

Anonymous said...

There is no excuse for covering up the sexual abuse of a student- period. Freund, like Spry, should be investigated- immediately. At the Bangor School Board meeting, it was disclosed that Don Spry charged the taxpayers $350 for a 3 MINUTE PHONE CALL !!!! When school director Bob Cartwright confronted him, Spry stumbled and fumbled- he needs, as the least, to be fired immediately and at best, be in jail. THE Auditor General needs to investigate this entire firm.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if they were fired as the minutes stated that the board would consider the "resignation" of King Spry blah blah blah so to me, they bailed instead of facing the heat and bad publicity, pussies!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, didn't see it when I first read the post. I figured it was Paul Blunt. It's not the first time he's gotten into hot water as a school district solicitor. Not sure why King Spry would keep this guy around.

Mike Faccinetto said...

Bernie, Below is a link to our current KS contract. We have sought RFP's several times in the past but this year opted to extend another year. Our rates have only been raised once in the past 6 years. They are more than fair IMHO.

https://www.beth.k12.pa.us/District/SchoolBoard/agendas/2013/130520/130520_Reg_Minutes.pdf

Michael Faccinetto said...

Should have mentioned the contract starts on page 147 of 193.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks, Mike. I was struggling to find it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This really doesn't answer my question. It shows you voted to keep them, but I have no idea what they were paid. They bury that sort of thing. That should be front and center on all contracts.

Michael Faccinetto said...

Are you seeing the actual contract? I think it's clear. $16K retainer, nonlitigation $125/hr for partners and $80 for paralegal. Litigatin $150/hr and $80 for paralegal.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I did not see that, Michael. I am missing a lot of things today. But I am correct in concluding this does not really give us an idea what you pay this firm annually? $100,000? $200,000? Also, I realize this is a professional service, but did you seek proposals?

Michael Faccinetto said...

Approx $400,000 total for the fiscal year. We did not seek proposals this year. We have in the past.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That bill is high. The hourly rate, however, is lower than I expected. But you are happy, and so is an Allentown School director that uses this firm.

Anonymous said...

If BASD is charged $125/hr., which is a fair rate, why was the Bangor School District charged $350 for a 3 minute phone call? Outrageous!!!

Mike Faccinetto said...

You have sparked my interest now. I want to see what other districts similar in size to BASD spend. $400K sounds like a lot but with 14,000 students and a $230 million budget I'm not sure it is?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mike, It does seem high, but there could be lots of reasons like litigation.

Anonymous said...

EASD and WASD also use that firm...what have they paid?

Bernie O'Hare said...

It might be RTK time.

Anonymous said...

The Bangor school Board is right on the money with this one. Why would we ever pay such an ungodly amount of money for legal service when you could hire someone in house or set a set amount for legal fee's and let them bid on it. It seems in "professional" services that the client's checkbook (in this case the taxpayer) are at the mercy of the professional.
WAKE UP BANGOR you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that we are paying way to much for legal services. Now lets see where the "Good Ole Boys" go with this. The legal fees are outright SKETCHY! Doesn't our school Administration and School Board Members have any integrity?
I for one will watch the papers to see how this plays out.
For god sakes you cut SEWING and let your lawyer take you to the cleaners?