Ontario School Board chooses attorney in the wake of allegations

Members of the Ontario School Board discuss an issue during a recent meeting. The board selected an Oregon City law firm to represent it Thursday night in a special meeting. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez).

VALE – The Ontario School Board picked an Oregon City law firm to represent it regarding allegations made against two of its members recently.

After about an hour-long executive session Thursday night the board picked Hungerford Law Firm from a list of four potential prospects.

The firm will charge $270 an hour for its services, said school board member Eric Evans. The district will cover the costs, he said.

Blackaby said choosing Hungerford Law Firm marked a turning point in a saga that began in July.

“We can start to get some clarity,” said Blackaby. “We want to move as fast as we can.”

The meeting was triggered by allegations in an unsigned letter – that claimed to represent 14 of 18 Ontario School District administrators – that called for the resignation of board members Eric Evans and Derrick Draper. The complaint was delivered to school board members in early July. No administrator attached their name to the documents but most of it focuses on claims made by Jodi Elizondo, the Ontario High School principal, that included detailed accounts of private meetings and email excerpts.

The letter asserted that the “behavior of Eric Evans and Derrick Draper exposes the district to liability and is hurting student achievement and success.”

The two board members’ conduct, the complaint said, has caused “significant damage” to the school district relations with the community.

Evans said this morning he is pleased the school board is moving forward.

“I look forward to the legal counsel we get and a fair and objective investigation in order to clear my name,” said Evans.

 Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.

SUBSCRIBE TO HELP PRODUCE VITAL REPORTING — For $5 a month, you get breaking news alerts, emailed newsletters and around-the-clock access to our stories. We depend on subscribers to pay for in-depth, accurate news produced by a professional and highly trained staff. Help us grow and get better with your subscription. Sign up HERE.