Moms for Liberty school board members spent $1.75 million defending book bans, discrimination in Central Bucks

Graphic of Central Bucks High School by Desiree Tapia.

By Sean Kitchen

March 5, 2024

Former Central Bucks School Board members and officials allowed powerful law firm to over-charge on anti-LGBTQ discrimination lawsuit.

A law firm connected to Bill McSwain, a former Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate and US Attorney, was paid $1.75 million by the Moms for Liberty-backed Central Bucks School Board to defend themselves against allegations of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, according to a report published by the Bucks County Courier Times.

The story states that two Central Bucks School District officials, former Board President Dana Hunter and former Superintendent Abram Lucabaugh, were aware in June 2023 that McSwain’s law firm, Duane Morris, was over-billing the school district, and at the time, they were asked to seek a reduction in billing and request that Duane Morris submit documentation of their work performed.

Documents relating to the school district’s chargers were kept from the public until after the school board flipped in November after Democrats swept five seats.

Edward Diasio, a lawyer from an outside firm that previously worked as a special counsel, raised red flags about the over-billing last summer and told Lucabaugh and Hunter that “one could spend countless hours picking apart this bill.”

“The bottom line is, from my standpoint, that it is seriously inflated and should be reduced considerably,” Diasio said in an email.

Central Bucks hired Duane Morris in November 2022 after the school district was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania for discriminating against LGBTQ students and teachers.

WHYY reported that the ACLU of PA sued the district because of multiple instances of LGBTQ discrimination. The discrimination included banning books, refusing to use students’ correct or preferred pronouns, banning pride flags and punishing staff who spoke in support of LGBTQ students and teachers.

The school district hired Duane Morris in response to the allegations and paid McSwain $940 per hour and Michael Rinaldi, a former federal prosecutor, $640 per hour, but those charges skyrocketed after McSwain and Rinaldi had a whole team of lawyers working the case.

“What happened, though, was then an army of attorneys was brought in and any efficiencies that could have been achieved were dramatically outweighed by the inefficiencies associated with managing such a large team and all of the internal communication and coordination that come along with that,” Diasio wrote in his letter to Lucabaugh and Hunter.

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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