The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA’s) Council of School Attorneys (COSA), the national network of attorneys representing K-12 public school districts, recently elected new leaders and directors at its annual meeting in San Diego, California.

COSA supports school attorneys and provides leadership in legal advocacy for public schools. COSA’s 22-member Board of Directors oversees its continuing legal education programming and working groups for its nearly 3,000 members across the United States and Canada.

“Promoting and defending public education is a prime focus for NSBA,” said Francisco M. Negrón, Jr., NSBA’s Chief Legal Officer. “COSA’s new slate of officers and directors, experienced and committed law practitioners from across the country, will play a pivotal role in both strengthening and expanding our legal advocacy efforts in the coming year.”

Joe Scholler became Chair: Joe Scholler is a member with Frost Brown Todd, LLC, in West Chester, Ohio, where he leads the Government Services practice group, serving schools and other public sector entities. Joe was selected to 2012 Ohio Super Lawyers list and was named to the Cincinnati Business Courier list of Forty under 40, which recognizes professional success and community involvement.

“I have always been impressed by COSA’s ability to effectively foster collaboration between school lawyers across the country,” said Scholler. “This collaboration, along with the many resources available to COSA lawyers, indirectly provides important contributions to the academic success of our nation’s students. I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve the board and this outstanding organization.”

Debra Silk became Chair-elect: Debra Silk is the Associate Executive Director and General Counsel to the Montana School Boards Association (MTSBA). She is involved in every aspect of MTSBA from assisting its member school districts, oversight of its staff, programs and services, and assisting the Executive Director with Board and Association matters.

Tiffany Richardson became Vice chair: Dr. Tiffany Richardson recently joined South Carolina’s Berkeley County School District as the district's first general counsel. Prior to working for the district, she was with the South Carolina School Boards Association as the General Counsel and Director of Policy and Legal Services where she advised and trained school boards and special schools across the state on legal and policy matters and wrote school district policies. Tiffany has a doctoral degree in Education Leadership and Policies, which she received, along with her J.D. and MBA, from the University of South Carolina.

Andrew Manna became Secretary: Andrew Manna is a partner with Church Church Hittle + Antrim in Noblesville, Indiana.  He represents clients in matters associated with labor and employment law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and other matters.  He also defends school corporations against claims under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), First Amendment and other constitutional and civil rights law matters.  Prior to practicing law, Andrew taught social studies in both urban and rural districts.  He received his J.D. from Indiana University School of Law. 

COSA elected five new directors to their first two-year term: Katie Anderson, Clark Hill, Dallas, Texas; D. Scott Bennett, Bennett & DeCamp in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Haley Percell, Oregon School Boards Association; W. Douglas Thorne, Elkhart Community Schools, Elkhart, Indiana; and Jacqueline Gharapour Wernz, Thompson & Horton, Dallas, Texas.

In addition, COSA elected three directors to a second two-year term: A. Lynn Himes, Himes, Petrarca & Fester, Chtd., Chicago, Illinois; Heidi Maynard, Vandeberg, Johnson & Gandara, LLP, Tacoma, Washington and Terry Harmon, Sniffen & Spellman, P.A., Tallahassee, Florida.

Outgoing COSA Chair Joy Baskin presided over the COSA business meeting and elections and congratulated the new officers and directors. “We are grateful to have a diverse team of experienced school attorneys ready to lead our association. Public schools are facing significant changes and challenges, and now more than ever, they need to be able to rely on COSA’s leadership.”

Jim Keith, past COSA Chair and head of this year’s nominating committee, agreed.  “This group of new leaders brings extensive experience and involvement with COSA. They all share our passion and commitment for supporting public education and will work hard to ensure the continued success of COSA’s efforts in supporting school attorneys and providing leadership in legal advocacy for public schools.”

For more information about COSA, visit www.nsba.org/cosa

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