Prince George's Co. School Board discusses paying chair's legal fees

The school board for Prince George’s County Public Schools spent hours in executive session Thursday discussing FOX 5’s reporting that revealed the board chair’s legal fees are being paid by the school system, even though the board never approved the expense.

Sources say the board discussed and even voted on paying additional legal fees for Board Chair Dr. Juanita Miller though the vote failed. Some board members said it was a discussion that should have taken place in public.

READ MORE: PGCPS paying board chair's legal fees to fight removal

Miller refused to speak to FOX 5 as she was leaving the late-night executive session Thursday. We asked if she owed the public an explanation of how their money is being spent.

"I asked you to stay away from me! I don’t have an obligation to talk to you," Miller said.

Miller is facing removal by the state board of education amid allegations of misconduct.

She’s fighting removal in court, and FOX 5 found out through a public information act request that the school district has paid over $32,000 of her legal fees. 

Board members said it was Board Vice Chair Sonya Williams who signed off on the payments and sent them to the school district to be paid. One invoice says, "Ok to pay," and is initialed SW. 

Williams also refused to answer questions Thursday. She did not run for re-election and Thursday was her last board meeting.

Prince George’s Co. Council Member Edward Burroughs is now requesting a criminal investigation into the matter, writing a letter to the Maryland State Prosecutor.  

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Burroughs, a former school board member, wrote in the letter that there "appears to be a misappropriation of taxpayer funds" by Miller and Williams. He references FOX 5’s reporting and calls Miller’s attorney fees a sole source, no-bid contract. Burroughs said it was deeply concerning that the PGCPS accounting department paid the fees without board approval.

A PGCPS spokesperson said the payments were not authorized by the school district, but by the board, although the bills were paid by the PGCPS financial department. She referred us to board leadership, which would be Chair Miller and Vice Chair Williams, to answer questions.