Even though the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education recently approved a $150,000 contract with a D.C. firm to defend the state against a lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department, there are indications the payoff could be much larger.

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Attorney Michael Kirk is the state's lead counsel in the voucher lawsuit filed by the feds.
The feds are suing Louisiana in federal court in New Orleans over its decision to move forward with vouchers in public school systems that are under desegregation orders.

The state Department of Education recommended the contract with Cooper and Kirk, but only listed the $150,000 figure in its agenda documents.

Attorneys familiar with such proceedings say it’s customary to lead with an arbitrary, reasonable-sounding figure on a contract and then extend it when billings get close to or exceed the threshold.

According to department spokesperson Barry Landry, Cooper and Kirk has quoted the state a rate of $495 per hour.

“The contract can be amended as more work is done,” says Landry.

Serving as lead counsel is Michael Kirk, a prominent Beltway attorney who has appeared regularly in desegregation cases involving the federal government.

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