Board candidates appeal ruling allowing BISD elections to move forward

David Yates Sep. 25, 2013, 7:44pm

Plaintiffs seeking to stop the Beaumont Independent School District from holding board elections on Nov. 5 have appealed a ruling allowing the elections to press forward. 

As previously reported, three BISD board candidates — Marcelino Rodriguez, Donna Jean Forgas and Linda Marie Wiltz Gilmor — filed a lawsuit April 30 in Jefferson County District Court against BISD, board members Woodrow Reece, Terry D. Williams, Janice Brassard, Gwen Ambres and Zenobia Randall Bush.

The complaint accuses the current board members of rigging the election process to enable them to keep their seats.

In their original complaint, the plaintiffs allege the current board failed to properly re-divide the voting districts before an upcoming election. In turn, the plaintiffs have been unable to challenge the incumbents’ seats and will not be able to do so until 2015.

Court records show on Aug. 28 the plaintiffs amended their petition to seek an injunction to stop the board’s election set for Nov. 5 – which has been called illegal by the District Attorney’s Office.

Without the backing of the county, which is responsible for providing elections, on April 29 the board voted to approve the election, electing to use school funds to pay for the endeavor.

After two hearings on the matter, Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, issued a ruling on Sept. 24, stating that the board’s decision to hold the election on Nov. 5 is proper.

The following day, the plaintiffs filed a notice of accelerated appeal, court papers say.

During a Sept. 11 injunction hearing, lead plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Truncale called the board’s election tactics something that Fidel Castro might do to stay in power.

Chad Dunn, one of the board’s attorneys fired back, saying the plaintiffs were essentially plotting a Soviet-style installation of candidates instead of an election.

Case No. E194-295

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