BISD to ask appeals court to reverse ruling prohibiting use of bond funds

David Yates Dec. 14, 2010, 9:33am

Demolition of South Park Middle School began in April.

Although the Beaumont Independent School District began bulldozing South Park Middle School in April, the district is still petitioning the Ninth District Court of Appeals to reverse an order prohibiting it from using money from the 2007 bond election.

Oral arguments on the matter have been slated for Jan. 27.

Previously, Beaumont justices dismissed the appeal of the lower court's ruling in May, which was originally filed by the Beaumont Heritage Society and local South Park alumnus Eddie Estilette.

The Heritage Society and Estilette had filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, assuming that appealing a judgment granting a permanent injunction had become moot since the 87-year-old campus is now in rubble.

However, in response to the motion, BISD Superintendent Carrol Thomas and Board of Trustees President Woodrow Reese filed a brief arguing that their cross-appeal "has not become moot" and that they wished continue their appeal of the trial court's ruling to award attorney's fees to the Heritage Society and Estilette.

The district also desires to appeal Judge Bob Wortham's ruling prohibiting the use of bond funds to demolish South Park.

Case Background

The Heritage Society and Estilette sought and received a temporary restraining order last summer, prematurely halting BISD from razing South Park and erecting a more costly structure in its stead.

Judge Wortham, who presided over the litigation, had determined there was enough evidence indicating that BISD may have misled voters during the $389 million bond election held in 2007.

As the Southeast Texas Record previously reported, on Jan. 6 Judge Wortham ruled against BISD, verbally ordering that no bond funds could be spent to demolish South Park.

Nonetheless, the district dipped into its general capitol funds to acquire a permit to hire a demolition crew and bulldoze the campus.

In a previous interview, BISD attorney Melody Chappell told the Record the school board voted on March 18 to use approximately $135,000 from general capitol funds to tear down the building.

The Heritage Society and Estilette are represented by attorney Michael Getz.

Getz is also battling BISD over the district's plans to build a hotel and events center near its new athletic complex.

Appeals case No. 09-10-00155-CV
Trial case No. D184-425

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