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Berkeley School board votes to hire former judge for legal advice

Berkeley School board votes to hire former judge for legal advice

From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:

The legal process involving the spokeswoman for the Berkeley County School District continues to move forward.

On February 11th, a Berkeley County Grand Jury indicted District Director of Communications Amy Kovach on one count of violation of the ethics act: use of public funds to influence the outcome of an election. The indictment came after a SLED investigation into whether the "Yes for schools" bond referendum campaign was being operated out of district offices.

On Tuesday night, the Berkeley County School Board voted to authorize the hiring of former Circuit Court Judge Vic Rawl to determine whether the school district should continue to pay Kovach's legal fees.

Related: Communications Director for Berkeley County School District indicted

Judge Rawl tells News 2 that he has met with school district attorneys about the issue. He said he expects to be given 2-3 specific questions that he would be responsible for researching for the board.

At Tuesday night's board meeting, the Berkeley County School Board Vice Chair Shannon Lee read a statement confirming the board is moving forward with hiring Rawl. She said in part, "His charge will be to determine whether the facts at this point, based on the information available to the board, suggest that Ms. Kovach was indeed acting in good faith and in the course of her employment, and - if so - whether last week's indictment precludes the district from providing her with legal representation."

If they find that Kovach was acting in good faith, the district says they will continue to pay her legal fees.

Judge Rawl says he is not certain whether he will be presiding over a public hearing of some sort, or whether he will simply research the facts and give the board his legal opinion.

Judge Rawl says he has been hired for similar legal work in the past. One example is work he did after the Graniteville Train Wreck.

As far as how much more money this will cost taxpayers, Judge Rawl could not give an exact figure. He did tell us that his normal hourly rate is $250 per hour.  However, he is not certain how many hours this project may take.

The district has already paid at least $45,000 in legal fees for the three individuals who are part of this investigation, Superintendent Rodney Thompson, Asst. Superintendent Archie Franchini and Spokeswoman Amy Kovach. Kovach is the only one of the three who has been indicted.

If convicted of the misdemeanor offense, Kovach could face a fine of up to $5,000 or up to one year in prison. However, at this point she remains innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Image courtesy of WCBD-TV.

 

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