Our Staff

Our attorneys, collective bargaining specialists and legal secretaries come to SLS with a wide array of experience and expertise. SLS attorneys mark nearly a century of collective experience in education law. Our collective bargaining service began serving districts from the moment the Educational Employment Relations Act was enacted in 1976.

MEET OUR TEAM

Image of Grant Herndon

Grant Herndon

General Counsel


General Counsel Grant Herndon has practiced law for three decades since graduating from the Georgetown University Law Center. He joined Schools Legal Service in 1994 from private practice, where his work included representation of state agencies such as the Department of Corrections, Department of Health Services, and Department of Parks and Recreation in personnel and related matters. Grant counsels governing boards and administrators on a variety of matters, including Brown Act and governance issues, conflict of interest, administrator contracts, election and voting rights issues, nonprofit formation, and school district organization.

Image of Robert Phillips

Robert Phillips

Attorney


Attorney Robert Phillips joined the Labor and Employment Practice Group.  He comes from private practice at an East Bay Area in-house office for a multi-national insurance carrier focusing on complex civil litigation. The Southern California native is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton, with a juris doctor degree from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. Robert’s trial and negotiation experience serves our districts well. He is a member of the California State Bar and the California Council of School Attorneys.

Image of Bill Hornback

Bill Hornback

Attorney


A graduate of the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, attorney Bill Hornback joined SLS in 1996 from private practice where his construction law experience was immediately put to use in advising and representing school districts in complex construction disputes. Bill has completely revamped SLS’s extensive public works bid documents and provides training to districts in competitive bidding and related matters. His work with the Kern High School District’s building program benefits all SLS clients. Bill is also a statewide expert on charter school issues and coordinates the work of the Business Practice Group.

Image of Christopher P. Burger

Christopher P. Burger

Attorney


Attorney Christopher Burger joined SLS in 2002 from private practice, where he focused on real property and environmental matters. His prior experience as an environmental regulator for the Kern County Department of Environmental Health serves our clients well in the school site acquisition setting. Chris is also an authority on developer fees and administers a separate Kern County-based joint powers program for the collection of developer fees. The California Pacific School of Law graduate is a member of the California State Bar, Kern County Bar Association, California Council of School Attorneys, and an active participant in the Coalition for Adequate Student Housing (CASH).

Image of Alan B. Harris

Alan B. Harris

Attorney


Attorney Alan Harris is a former United States Marine Corps JAG officer who joined SLS from private practice in 2002. Al represents districts and advises governing boards in student discipline matters and a range of other issues pertaining to students such as free speech and dress code issues. He assists administrators in obtaining temporary restraining orders and stay-away orders. He also practices in the areas of special education and school business law.

Image of Melissa H. Brown

Melissa H. Brown

Attorney


Attorney Melissa H. Brown is the Coordinator of the Labor and Employment Practice Group. A graduate of UCLA and Santa Clara University School of Law, Melissa is proud to be in the ranks of education law attorneys as her family has been involved in many aspects of California public education for over 80 years. Melissa advises, represents and trains SLS clients on a wide range of labor and employment issues, including employee recruitment, evaluation, discipline, dismissal and reductions in force, workplace harassment and discrimination investigations, and complex leaves and reasonable accommodation issues. She is a member of the California Council of School Attorneys, the Kern County Bar Association, and has volunteered as an Attorney Coach at local and statewide Mock Trial competitions for local high school students.

Image of Timothy Salazar

Timothy Salazar

Attorney


Attorney Timothy L. Salazar came to SLS from private practice in Torrance with an extensive background in collective bargaining and labor and employment law. The UCLA School of Law graduate and certified mediator focuses on collective bargaining for SLS districts. In addition, he represents clients in employment law matters including employee discipline, investigation of complaints, grievances, arbitrations and PERB hearings.

Image of Darren J. Bogié

Darren J. Bogié

Attorney


Attorney Darren Bogié joined SLS from private practice in Sacramento focusing on civil litigation, and has experience in advising and defending both public and private sector clients. He is a former adjunct faculty member at CSU Sacramento, Deputy County Counsel, Special Assistant in the United States Attorney, and JAG Corps Trial Defense Counsel. Mr. Bogié is a member of the California State Bar, the Federal Bar Association, the California Council of School Attorneys and the Kern County Bar Association. He earned his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Chico and his Juris Doctor degree, with distinction, from University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. Along with his Employment Practice Group duties, Darren Bogié also coordinates the work of the Special Education Practice Group. In that role he advises and represents school districts, SELPAs and County Offices of Education in all aspects of special education law. Mr. Bogié is currently one of the most active trial attorneys representing school districts in in administrative proceedings. During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, he defended school districts in over 5 percent of the due process hearings held throughout California. He has assisted and advised clients in the development of policies related to search and serve, assessments, and educational related mental health services.

Stephanie Virrey Gutcher

Stephanie Virrey Gutcher

Attorney


Stephanie Virrey Gutcher came to SLS from private practice in Bakersfield and prior to that in Sacramento, emphasizing both civil and criminal law. A graduate of the University of California, Davis and the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, Stephanie practices in the area of special education where her trial and negotiation skills serve our clients well. She is a member of the California Council of School Attorneys and the Kern County Bar Association and is conversant in Spanish.

Image of Kyle W. Holmes

Kyle W. Holmes

Attorney


Attorney Kyle W. Holmes joined the Special Education Practice Group from private practice in a Bakersfield-based firm focusing on civil litigation. The Bakersfield native is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, with a juris doctor degree from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law (Traynor Honor Society) and an LL.M. degree in Environmental Law from Lewis & Clark Law School. Kyle’s experience in advising and defending public and private sector entities serves our clients well. He is an authority on vaccination requirements in the special education setting, and a member of the Office of Administrative Hearings Special Education Advisory Committee, which provides non-binding recommendations for improvements to the special education dispute resolution program. Kyle is a member of the California State Bar, the California Council of School Attorneys and the Kern County Bar Association.

Image of Christina J. Oleson

Christina J. Oleson

Attorney


The newest addition to the SLS special education practice group is Attorney Christina J. Oleson who came to SLS from the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office and was previously in private practice. She is a graduate of California State University, San Marcos, where she majored in business administration with a minor in Spanish. She obtained her law degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. She has extensive trial and hearing experience, which will serve our clients well. She is a member of the California Council of School Attorneys and the Kern County Bar Association.

Image of Eric Alford

Eric Alford

Attorney


Attorney Eric Alford joined the Labor and Employment Practice Group from a state-wide firm focusing on labor law and worker’s compensation. Prior to that, Eric practiced civil and administrative law in San Joaquin County handling juvenile delinquency, adult misdemeanors and felony, and bankruptcy matters. He is a member of the San Joaquin and Kern County Bar Associations, California State Bar, California Counsel of School Attorneys, and is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.

SUPPORT STAFF

Accountant Tamie Triplett provides accounting and billing services to SLS. The San Jose State University graduate previously served as Accountant to the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) and the California Student Information System (CSIS).

Cheryl A. Philley joined Schools Legal Service in May 1976. She worked as a legal secretary for a local private law firm for 2 years and was secretary to the Assistant General Counsel for 6 years. From 1982 to 2011, as Senior Legal Secretary, she served as the assistant to the General Counsel. In 2011 she became the Supervising Legal Secretary and also continues her duties as the assistant to the General Counsel. Cheryl received her AA degree from Bakersfield College in 1974 in the Legal Secretarial Program and graduated from the California State University, Bakersfield, Extended Studies, Attorney Assistant Program in 1988. She also completed the General Management Program at Bakersfield College in 2008.

Rose Aquino joined Schools Legal Service in 1983. She worked for a local private law firm for 4 years, currently works for the special education practice group and assists supervising legal secretary in the area of business administration. She also has experience in the area of collective bargaining; business and construction; and developer fees. Rose received her AA degree from Bakersfield College in 1978 and graduated from the California State University, Bakersfield, Extended Studies, Attorney Assistant Program in 1988.  She is conversant in Spanish.

RoseAnn Franco has been a member of the Schools Legal Service staff since 1980. She attended Bakersfield College and her professional background includes over 8 years experience working for local private law firms and 2 years for the Kern High School District personnel department. RoseAnn has extensive experience in the area of personnel and student discipline. She currently works in the area of business, construction and personnel.

Cathy Rother has been a member of the Schools Legal Service staff since 1983. She worked for local private law firms, including Wagy, Bunker, Hislop & Lewis and the Law Office of Patrick E. Jennison, and currently works in the area of special education, business and construction. Cathy received her AA degree from Bakersfield College in 1976 and graduated from the California State University, Bakersfield, Extended Studies, Attorney Assistant Program in 1988.

Cindy R. Jackson joined Schools Legal Service in 2000. She worked for local private law firms for 13 years and the Bakersfield City Attorney’s Office for 3 years. She has experience in the areas of business, construction and special education. She currently works in the area of personnel and student discipline. Cindy received her AA degree from Bakersfield College in 1983 and graduated from the California State University, Bakersfield, Extended Studies, Attorney Assistant Program in 1990.

Andrea Jones joined the Schools Legal Service staff in May 2004. She attended Cerritos Junior College and her professional background includes over 16 years experience working for local private law firms and 5 years for the Bakersfield City Attorney’s Office. Andrea has extensive experience in the area of civil litigation, business litigation, municipal law, personal injury and student discipline. She currently works in the areas of personnel and special education.

Cindy Cordier joined Schools Legal Service in 2016. She worked as a litigation paralegal for a local private law firm for almost 2 years. She has also worked as a legal secretary for the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. She has extensive experience in intellectual property, corporate, criminal and construction litigation. She is currently working in the area of personnel. Cindy graduated from University of California, Los Angeles Attorney Assistant Program in 1991.

Ana Arias-Gonzales joined the Schools Legal Service staff in September 2010. She attended Bakersfield College for two years. For 6 years she worked as a legal secretary and receptionist for two local law firms. Before coming to Schools Legal Service, Ana was a bilingual secretary in the special education department at the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office.  She is fluent in Spanish.