Settlement talks between Fernandez & Ed. Board attorneys reach impasse

(PNC photo)

Superintendent Jon Fernandez’s legal counsel argued that the AG’s Office is bullying the education board.

Guam – It appears settlement talks between the Guam Education Board and Superintendent Jon Fernandez have reached an impasse. Although both parties have expressed their desire to settle, their legal counsels today in the District Court of Guam could not agree upon the terms for which to do so, meaning the entire lawsuit could head to a hearing.

In court today, Lujan-Wolfe told Chief Judge Francis Tydingco-Gatewood that board members seem ready to settle the lawsuit. But she believes they cannot move forward because the board’s legal counsel will not even allow them to preview the settlement.

Attorney Delia Lujan-Wolfe argued that the Education’s Boards legal counsel, represented by the Attorney General, is being unreasonable.

In fact, Attorney Lujan-Wolfe argued that the AG’s Office is bullying the board with threats of lawsuit if board members seek outside counsel other than the AG.

This, she says, has created a chilling effect on the entire board.

But Deputy Attorney General Kenneth Orcutt didn’t agree.

Although he did admit that the AG’s Office has warned the board not to seek outside counsel, he believes they were doing so with the board’s best interest.

At this point, he says the AG is protecting the client –which is not just the board of education, but the government of Guam. Further, Orcutt argued that the settlement presented to them was “illegal” and his office is simply trying to avoid a taxpayer lawsuit.

In response, Chief Judge Francis Tydingco-Gatewood said it appears both parties are headed towards a hearing on September 22nd. If that happens, the district court judge said the whole ordeal would have been “such a waste of time” as both parties have expressed their desire to settle in the past.

In the meantime, Tydingco-Gatewood recommended that Deputy Attorney General Orcutt speak with both Speaker BJ Cruz and Senator Joe San Agustin to determine if legislative approval is needed in the settlement talks.