There’s no doubt there’s been a drastic spike in legal fees for Blue Earth Area School District the last two years.
The question is how much of the nearly $70,000 spent on attorneys in 2018 and so far this year is tied to four students charged in the October 2017 assault of a football teammate.
Former interim Superintendent Jerry Jensen says researching to determine if the increased legal costs are related to the assault cases would be difficult.
“It would be quite time consuming, if even possible, to break everything down by specific cases,” says Jensen. “Often the invoices include many various activities for which we have engaged the attorney.”
According to monthly billing reports provided in School Board meeting packets, the district has paid Knutson, Flynn, Deans & Olsen $3,783 in 2013; $780 in 2014; $3,869 in 2015; $10,199 in 2016; and $5,011 in 2017.
Following the arrest of the four teens in November 2017, payments to the Twin Cities law firm jumped to $42,326 in 2018.
Billing records show two large payments of $19,360 and $12,710 were made on Feb. 27, 2018 and Aug. 31, 2018, respectively.
So far this year, the district has paid $989 on Feb. 28; $11,351 on March 29; $5,676 on May 31; and $9,395 on June 28.
Tripleanews.com contacted the law firm last month and was unsuccessful in obtaining detailed legal expenses associated with the assault cases.
Minhquang Trang, an attorney with Knutson, Flynn, Deans & Olsen, responded by email saying what was being requested is unclear. A second email to clarify the type of information being sought has not been answered.
Trang represented school district officials who were subpoenaed to appear at a restitution hearing for one of the co-defendants.
Another attorney, Michelle Kenney, attended board meetings immediately following news of the assault to provide advice and answer any questions from the public.