BRIDGEPORT — The city school board has been shopping around for a new attorney and none to soon.

It’s current representation has given notice.

Earlier this month, citing a determination on their part that their firm's representation of the board had been rendered unreasonably difficult by board actions, Shipman & Goodwin gave 90 day notice of its intention to sever its relationship with the city school board.

On more than one occasion this school year, attorneys for the firm have showed up at meetings at the request of the board chair only to be denied the opportunity to speak because they had not been invited by the full board. The board also recently sent a letter to the firm indicating an unwillingness to pay for those appearances.

The firm has represented the school board since 2014 under a three-year contract that has since expired. The school board put out a call for a new attorney on April 5, 2018, after spending several months arguing over city input into a new request for proposals.

Board Chairman John Weldon said late last week that two firms responded to the request by the May 11 cut off date. Neither was Shipman & Goodwin. Separately, board has discussed the possibility of forgoing outside representation in place of hiring an in-house attorney.

Thomas Mooney, a Shipman & Goodwin partner, which is based in Hartford, declined to comment on the situation.

Patrice McCarthy, general counsel for the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, called it unusual but not unheard of for an attorney to sever its ties with a school board.

Maria Pereira, a school board member who led the charge to keep Shipman & Goodwin attorneys from speaking at the last couple of meetings said she was thrilled by the firm’s decision.

In the current school year, the district had $1.73 million budgeted for legal services. In is expected to spend between $1.3 and $1.4 million including settlements and expulsion hearings.

Weldon said Shipman & Goodwin will continue to represent the board through August 9 but would turn over all matters to a successor firm hired before then.

“We are confident of being able to retain successor counsel well before the expiration of the notice period,” Weldon said.