Onaway school board decides to put Thrun Law Firm on 30-day notice

Some members of the Onaway Area Community Schools board of education have been talking about dumping Thrun Law Firm since late in 2022. 

In 30 days, it could happen with the approval of a motion to show the law firm, that represents hundreds of public schools across Michigan, the door. 

Board member John Palmer’s impassioned speech led up to a motion and final, 4-3, vote to give the Lansing law firm a 30-day notice. 

ONAWAY SCHOOL board member John Palmer is fed up with Thrun Law Firm and made the motion to give them a 30-day notice, and if things don’t get better, he said, the nearly two-decade relationship with the district could be over. Thrun was appointed as the district’s legal counsel in January, but a second firm, Kallman Legal Group, was hired to serve the board a month later.

Voting for the motion were Erin Chaskey, Lorrie Kowalski, Jim Rieger and Palmer, the four who were voted into office in November 2022. The “no” votes came from Mike Hart, Annette Porter and Jeremy Veal.

One of Palmer’s main points of contention during Tuesday’s meeting was that when superintendent Mindy Horn and board president Rieger raised legal questions with Thrun on the same topic, the answers would come back different to each party, Palme

r contends. He also has major issues with the new policy book.

“Throw this (new policy book) out and go back to the old one, put the power back to the parents,” said Palmer. His comments were followed several times by the supporters of the new board members. “I just don’t think it is a bad idea, because it all started after the election.”

Palmer continued, saying, “If it was up to me, I don’t trust Thrun as far as I can pick this table up and throw it. I’d put them on 30-day notice.”

Palmer said the community will stay divided if the board continues to operate the way it is.

(The complete story is published in the Aug. 31, 2023 print edition of the Presque Isle County Advance/Onaway Outlook)