Hidalgo ISD hires new law firm amid controversy

Members of Community United sifted through dozens of papers on Wednesday--documents they have collected since the formation of the group back in August.

"It's important that everyone in the community has a voice and is informed of what's going on," Member of Community United Fabian De La Pea said.

One of the documents obtained by the group concerns the Hidalgo Independent School District and their decision to hire a new law firm.

"They've taken a route that is three to four times more expensive to the school district then the road they were on prior," Mayor of Hidalgo John David Franz said.

Franz, who is also the president of Community United, said the documents he obtained show the school district is paying the new law firm $15,000 a month--that's roughly $180,000 a year. He said, according to the documents he has, the district's old law firm was paid roughly $46,000 a year. "There could be a valid reason for this move," Franz said. "This is something Community United is trying to get to the bottom of and get some answers."

Action 4 News went straight to Hidalgo ISD and got those answers.

"Right now, with our current attorney, what we are paying includes him attending our board meetings and the price includes litigation fees," Hidalgo ISD Public Relations Specialist Jennifer Villarreal said.

She said they paid the previous attorney a $1,000 retainer fee--that fee did not include other expenses.

"If we needed to go to litigation they charged us," Villarreal said. "They charged us for telephone calls and they wouldn't attend any of our meetings--any of our special meetings or regular school board meetings their presence was never there."

She said, while she doesn't have exact numbers, they would end up paying the old attorney over $100,000 dollars a year.