NSBA Council of School Attorneys Elects New Leadership for 2019-2020

March 30, 2019

Philadelphia, Pa. (March 30, 2019) — The National School Boards Association (NSBA) Council of School Attorneys (COSA), the national network of attorneys representing K-12 public school districts, elected new leaders and directors at its annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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 3,100 members across the United States and Canada.

Phil Hartley became Chair: Hartley is a managing partner in the Gainesville, Georgia law firm of Harben, Hartley & Hawkins LLP which represents many school districts in the state.  He also serves as general counsel for the Georgia School Boards Association and legal advisor to the Georgia School Superintendents Association. He received his law degree from the University of Georgia Law School.

Jim Keith became Chair elect: Keith is a partner with the Jackson, Mississippi office of Adams and Reese, where he serves as the attorney for the Mississippi School Boards Association, the Mississippi High School Activities Association, and the board attorney for twelve school districts. He received his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law.                              

Joy Baskin became Vice chair: Baskin is the Director of Legal Services at the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), where she oversees the division’s activities and informs TASB’s other service areas about legal developments. She received her law degree with honors from The University of Texas School of Law.

Joe Scholler became Secretary:  Scholler is an equity partner at Frost Brown Todd, where he leads the Government Services practice group serving schools and other public sector entities.  He received his law degree from the University of Dayton School of Law.

“Advocating for 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 elected four new directors to their first two-year term:  Bridget Cook, general counsel for the Antelope Valley Union High School District in Lancaster, California; Erin O’Grady-Parent, a partner at Guercio & Guercio in Latham, New York; Gary Ruesch, an attorney at Buelow Vetter Buikema Olson & Vliet in Waukesha, Wisconsin; and Jayne Harrell Williams, general counsel and director of legal advocacy with the Alabama Association of School Boards.

In addition, COSA elected three directors to a second two-year term:  Lisa Freiley, an attorney with Willamette Education Service District, Salem, Oregon; Tiffany Richardson, General Counsel and Director of Policy and Legal Services, South Carolina School Boards Association; and Marc Terry, a partner with Mirick O’Connell in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Outgoing COSA Chair Diane Marshall-Freeman 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 truly accomplished lawyers who are committed proponents of public education,” said Marshall-Freeman.

Pilar Sokol, past COSA Chair and head of this year’s nominating committee, agreed. “The Council’s new leaders bring geographic diversity, a wealth of experience, and dedication to COSA, sharing passion and commitment for public education,” said Sokol. “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.”

For more information about COSA, visit

Go to top