OSBA’s Legal Assistance Trust was established to help districts with the expense of litigation, primarily at the appellate level, which has a statewide impact. It is not intended to assist districts with routine legal services. Dues are based on the participating district’s average daily membership.
The Legal Assistance Trust Board of Trustees determines which cases to support and how much financial support will be allocated using the following criteria:
The district requests assistance through a board-passed resolution;
The legal action does not involve litigation between member districts;
The issue has impact or potential impact on education statewide; and
Trustees’ determination of the quality of the fact situation, the district’s financial resources and cost of the case.
Since it began in 1991, the Trust has provided over $1.2 million in legal costs. A case accepted by the Trust typically receives 50 percent reimbursement for legal fees. In some cases the Trust allocates more when the outcome could have a major impact on other boards, such as litigating the 2003 changes to PERS and the Forest Grove special education case that was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Public Employers’ Defense Alliance was formed to defend various public employers, including school districts, named in lawsuits stemming from the 2003 legislative changes to Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). The Trust contributed over $670,000 toward the litigation costs on behalf of all trust members.
A Board of Trustees, composed of the OSBA president, OSBA executive director, the president of the Council of School Attorneys and four other school board members appointed by the OSBA Executive Committee, administers the Trust.
Information about membership is sent to board chairs, superintendents/presidents and business officials annually.
Kris Howatt, LAT Chair, Gresham-Barlow School District
Christine Cusick Nesbit, LAT Vice Chair, Council of School Attorneys Chair
Jim Green, LAT Secretary-Treasurer, OSBA Executive Director