The Lee’s Summit School R-7 School District will keep its contract with a law firm even though one of the firm’s attorneys is dating the district’s top administrator.
In a 4-3 vote, the district’s board of education approved a motion Thursday to continue using the legal services of the Guin Mundorf law firm. One of the firm’s principals, Shellie Guin, is in a romantic relationship with district Superintendent David McGehee.
Board member Bill Baird was one of three board members to vote against continuing the business relationship with Guin Mundorf. Julie Doane and Phyllis Balagna were the others. Baird has publicly raised concerns about the board’s handling of the contract.
Several members of the public, including a state representative, told the school board they had concerns about McGehee’s relationship with Guin.
One person asked the board to discontinue its contract with the firm, while another commented that she thought both McGehee and board president Terri Harmon should resign for allowing the relationship to become the focal point of recent media reports.
Neither McGehee nor Harmon were available for comment after the meeting.
McGehee’s 2015-16 compensation package, including annuity and allowed expenses, totaled an estimated $397,000. The total includes items such as business expenses, travel and mileage.
His base salary was $276,286 with $80,500 more coming in deferred payment.
The compensation package is the highest in the state, according to a report from Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri.
The school board has offered McGehee a contract extension. The terms have not yet been publicly disclosed.
Rebecca Roeber, a Republican state representative for Missouri’s 34th district, was one of several speakers to address the board. Roeber, a retired educator, cautioned the board about the appearance of a conflict of interest between Guin’s firm and her relationship with McGehee.
“I think Guin Mundorf should have been discontinued tonight,” Roeber said after the nearly two-hour meeting.
Randy Scarborough is a parent of two children in the district. He said the future of his children depends on the success of the schools. Scarborough called on the board to remember they work for the voters.
“I wanted to see the board acting in a fiduciary manner to the people that they represent,” he said. “My takeaway is that didn’t happen.”
Guin Mundorf is one of several law firms that provide services to the district.
Before the vote to keep Guin Mundorf as one of its legal service providers, Harmon said that the firm voluntarily submitted that Guin would no longer personally benefit from the firm’s contract with the district.
Guin, Harmon said, has not worked on district business since Feb. 18. She added the district has had two outside experts determine that the relationship does not cause a conflict.
“She’s the owner of the company,” Baird said. “Just because the money is not going to her directly — the money that goes to staff frees up money for her. That’s definitely not good enough.”
Baird said that despite the majority vote to retain Guin Mudorf, he is ready to positively move forward with McGehee and the rest of the board.
“I’m going to work with them to be as open and transparent as possible with the community and district employees,” he said. “That’s all I can do.”