Manatee County School Board Attorney John Bowen has stated Trenam Kemker, the Tampa law firm hired to investigate the cause of the $3.4 milion budget deficit from the Manatee County schools 2011-12 school year, is billing beyond the scope of its work.
According to Bowen, the firm billed the district $39,000 as of Nov. 8, some for activities they shouldn't have participated in.
Trenam Kemker invoices to the district include charges when the firm sat in on Navigant interviews with former superintendent Tim McGonegal and former assistant superintendent of district services Jim Drake, along with other district staff.
Trenam Kemker had hired Navigant, a national consulting firm, to conduct the investigation into the district’s finances in mid-October.
But Bowen said Navigant was fully capable of handling those interviews themselves.
“There are questions about the items on their bills that appear out-of-scope with what they’re supposed to be doing,’” Bowen said. “They shouldn’t be attending conferences with witnesses.”
Trenam Kemker also billed the district for more than four hours to determine whether interview notes are public record.
School board members have been calling Trenam Kemker with questions regarding time for which the district is billed.
“School board members should not be calling them,” Bowen said.
The district hasn't paid the invoices yet.
Navigant will reveal its audit findings Jan. 14.