The Cherokee County School Board has denied a request from District 1 member Kelly Marlow for taxpayers to pay for her legal representation in an upcoming ethics hearing.
The board voted 5-2, with Kelly Marlow and Michael Geist opposing, to reject a request from Marlow to have the board — thus, the public — to vouch for the attorney.
Marlow initially wanted the board to approve earmarking $150 per hour, which is the same rate School Board Attorney Tom Roach charges the board for his services.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo noted he felt the issue was two-fold: whether the board should approve paying for legal representation and, if it chose to do so, what amount would it set aside for Marlow's attorney.
School Board Attorney Tom Roach agreed, adding his $150 per hour is based on board meetings and it would be hard to gauge how much time his services would take with regards to the hearing.
The audience for the meeting was nearly standing room only, as many Cherokee County School District teachers and supporters were joined by those who've also voiced their support of Marlow to hear the outcome of the request.
Geist told the audience he was initially surprised at Marlow's request. However, as he thought about the request, Geist said he came to support the request as a way to bridge the "political divide" that's hit Cherokee County in the last 18 months.
He noted that no matter how the outcome turns out, both sides would eventually say that Marlow had "fair representation."
Frankly, he added, Marlow "is probably not in the best position to represent herself."