NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys Elects New Leadership for 2017-2018

March 28, 2017

Alexandria, Va. (March 28, 2017) — The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA’s) Council of School Attorneys (COSA), the national network of attorneys representing K-12 public school districts, elected new leaders and directors at its recent annual meeting in Denver, Colorado. COSA supports school attorneys and provides leadership in legal advocacy for public schools; its 22-member Board of Directors oversees its continuing legal education programming and working groups for its more than 3,000 members across the United States and Canada.

Pilar Sokol became Chair of the organization. Sokol is the deputy general counsel of the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) in Latham, New York, and is a graduate of Albany Law School.

Diane Marshall-Freeman became Chair-elect. Marshall-Freeman is a partner in the Sacramento, California, office of Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP and serves as general counsel to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). She received her law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Phil Hartley became Vice Chair. Hartley is a managing partner in the Gainesville, Georgia law firm of Harben, Hartley & Hawkins LLP, general counsel for the Georgia School Boards Association, legal advisor to the Georgia School Superintendents Association, and legal advisor to the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders. He received his law degree from the University of Georgia Law School.

Jim Keith became Secretary. Keith is a partner in the Jackson, Mississippi office of Adams and Reese LLP, and serves as counsel to the Mississippi School Boards Association.  He practices in the areas of employment, education, and administrative law. A focused aspect of his practice involves the representation of educational entities, including school districts, community colleges, and universities. He received his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

“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.”

COSA also elected three new directors to two-year terms: Lisa M. Freiley is General Counsel/Director of the Property Casualty Insurance for Education (PACE) program at the Oregon School Boards Association; Tiffany N. Richardson is the General Counsel and Director of Policy and Legal Services at the South Carolina School Boards Association; and Marc L. Terry is a partner in the Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Group at Mirick O’Connell in Westborough, Massachusetts.

In addition, COSA elected four directors to a second two-year term: Randall G. Bennett is the Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel of the Tennessee School Boards Association in Nashville; Michael J. Julka is a 40-year member of the firm Boardman & Clark LLP in Madison, Wisconsin; Michael E. Smith is a founding partner of Lozano Smith in Fresno, CA; and Jim Walsh is a founding partner of the firm now known as Walsh, Gallegos, Treviño, Russo, & Kyle P.C.  in Austin,

Outgoing COSA Chair Andy Sanchez presided over the COSA business meeting and elections, and congratulated the new officers and directors. “This group of school attorney leaders is made up of not only excellent, accomplished lawyers, but they are also energetic proponents of public education.”

Justin Petrarca, past COSA Chair and head of this year’s nominating committee, agreed. “The Council’s new leaders bring extensive experience and dedication to COSA, and share our passion and commitment for supporting public education. I’m confident of the continued success of COSA’s efforts in supporting school attorneys and providing leadership in legal advocacy for public schools, and welcome our new officers and directors.”

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The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA believes education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children should have equal access to an education that maximizes his or her individual potential. The association represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S.

Formed in 1967, the NSBA Council of School Attorneys provides information and practical assistance to attorneys who represent public school districts. It offers legal education, specialized publications, and a forum for exchange of information, and it supports the legal advocacy efforts of the National School Boards Association.

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