Dallas School Superintendent Mike Moses Will Stop His Consulting For Houston Law Firm; Are There Other Skeletons?
Should we believe that Superintendent Moses is now "cleansed" of all conflicts of interest"? Or should we check his closets for other skeletons one more time?
Moses to end financial ties with law firm used by DISD
Superintendent voluntarily quits trustee-OK'd consulting
By SCOTT PARKS, The Dallas Morning News, May 20, 2004
Dallas school Superintendent Mike Moses told his Board of Trustees on Wednesday that he will no longer work as a paid consultant for a Houston-based law firm that also works for the district.
School board President Hollis Brashear emerged from a closed-door meeting at district headquarters and said Dr. Moses had voluntarily decided to end his financial relationship with Bracewell & Patterson, one of Texas' largest and most prestigious law firms.
Mr. Brashear said he and other board members knew that Dr. Moses was going to consult with private companies from time to time and approved of his activities.
"We concluded there was nothing illegal, sinister or devious in that relationship, and we thank him for coming forward at this point and informing us that this situation will no longer continue," Mr. Brashear said.
Mr. Brashear said he has "seen civility brought back to the district" since Dr. Moses joined DISD. He also praised Dr. Moses for his administrative skills and his ability to attract grant money to the district.
Mr. Brashear characterized questions about the superintendent's relationship with Bracewell & Patterson as "a distraction."
Dr. Moses declined to comment. He and the school board went directly into a regular board meeting after Mr. Brashear's announcement.
Late in 2000, DISD trustees hired Dr. Moses away from Texas Tech University, where he was deputy chancellor. At the time, he was consulting for several companies, including Bracewell & Patterson.
School trustees agreed to an employment contract that allowed Dr. Moses to spend up to 10 business days a year on consulting activities. Dr. Moses pledged not to consult with companies that do business with DISD.
On Jan. 25, 2001, less than a month after taking over as superintendent, Dr. Moses formally recommended to trustees that they add Bracewell & Patterson to the district's stable of outside law firms. Trustees unanimously approved his recommendation.
DISD has paid Bracewell & Patterson more than $700,000 in legal fees since February 2001, according to district records. And Dr. Moses has continued to function as a paid consultant for the firm.
This year, Richardson ISD paid Bracewell & Patterson $20,000 plus expenses to conduct a superintendent search. Dr. Moses and law firm partner David Thompson worked on the job together. The men describe themselves as good friends as well as professional colleagues.
Dr. Moses has said he expects to receive "about half" of that $20,000 fee.
Conflict of interest
Mr. Brashear and other trustees said they saw no problem with Dr. Moses' financial relationship with the law firm because they all knew about it and approved his consulting activities ahead of time.
But some experts on professional ethics said the relationship had the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Dr. Moses, while acknowledging his friendship with Mr. Thompson, said he hired Bracewell & Patterson because he believed the firm provides superior service in special-education law and school finance litigation.
Dr. Moses has told trustees that his final business with Bracewell & Patterson will be concluded in one or two weeks.
He is working on a superintendent search for McKinney ISD.
"We are ready now to prepare and plan for the 2004-05 school year," Mr. Brashear said.