CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign school board Monday hired a former board member for a newly created school attorney position.
The board voted 4-1 Monday to hire Tommy Lockman to the new position. Lockman served on the Champaign school board from April 2009 until he resigned in December, citing personal and professional reasons.
Board member Jamar Brown voted against hiring Lockman.
“I don't believe Tommy's the candidate that is in alignment with the direction that the district is going,” Brown said.
The new position has been created to cut down on the school district's legal fees, according to a news release, and Superintendent Judy Wiegand believed Lockman's legal background and board experience “make him an ideal choice for the new position,” the release stated.
“Mr. Lockman will be a great asset to the district,” Wiegand said in the release.
Board President Stig Lanesskog said he didn't believe the board had a conflict of interest in approving Lockman's hire.
He said Lockman was up-front with the board and resigned before applying.
Lanesskog said Lockman will not report directly to the board, but to Superintendent Judy Wiegand.
“I think the board feels strongly that she should be able to select her team,” Lanesskog said.
Lockman will not represent the board's interests, because it has its own legal counsel, Lanesskog said.
He said he also believes Lockman's board experience will be helpful.
“He can put the law into Champaign's context,” Lanesskog said.
Three candidates interviewed for the position, said Ken Kleber, the school district's executive director of human resources.
The school board originally listed the hire as an action item on its regular agenda, but did not act on it at that time.
After its second executive session, the board voted to put the hire back on the agenda, and then voted to hire Lockman.
Lanesskog said the board voted on Lockman's hire when it did in order to have a “thorough discussion” prior to the vote.