Pine-Richland’s solicitor retires after 30 years on the job
Sunday, June 23, 2019 | 12:01 AM
The Pine-Richland School District bid farewell to longtime solicitor Patrick Clair, who retired at the end of the school year after serving the district for nearly 30 years.
Paraeducator Barbara Sullivan also retired after 27 years working for the district and middle school learning support teacher John Haddad retired after 25 years.
Clair joined Goehring, Rutter & Boehm in 1981 as a member of the School and Municipal Law Group and began working with Pine-Richland in 1989. He was appointed solicitor in the early 1990s.
Superintendent Dr. Brian Miller praised Clair’s passion for the law and how he framed it around what’s best for students and the district as well as his knowledge, humor and ability to counsel administrators and board members on the complexities of K-12 education.
“What Pine-Richland as a community looked like in 1991 or in the 1980s and what it looks like today and all those changes, having someone in (his) role with that continuity to bring an awareness, a history and a knowledge and transfer that and be a common point is significant,” Miller said. “It’s not just the issues that arise from time to time, it’s being able to help thread together that history and continuity so the school can continue to operate at a high level and I don’t know that people understand or appreciate that about a solicitor.”
Board president Peter Lyons said that Clair’s role as a counselor and advisor was invaluable to the board members and he always appreciated the respect Clair showed for their work. He mentioned Clair’s ritual of citing what he called Thomas Jefferson’s dream of people coming forth to give freely of themselves to help manage our republic when administering the oath of office to new board members.
Clair said that was genuinely heartfelt each time he did it.
“We’re not just here for those kids, we’re here for our country so our country can continue to lead the way in self government,” Clair said. “Go back to Washington, Jefferson, all those guys, what they talked about was you have to have an educated public if the people are going to govern themselves. If you don’t educate the people, the people are going to fall victim to kings and the princes and the nobles and the priests and be dominated from above and we can’t afford that.”
The board and administrators also expressed their gratitude to Sullivan for her hard work, dedication and attitude. Sullivan began as a playground assistant at Washington Elementary in 1992 then moved to Richland Elementary, where she worked for 16 years before moving to Eden Hall Upper Elementary to work as a paraeducator.
“My time with the school district has been wonderful and rewarding,” she said. “I take many, many fond memories with me. The children I worked with over the years have given me more than I could have ever imagined. I learned so much from them and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”