Appeals court denies writ seeking to allow Nov. 5 BISD board election

By David Yates | Oct 28, 2013

The Ninth Court of Appeals will not impede a local judge’s decision to cancel the Beaumont Independent School District’s board elections, which were set to take place on Nov. 5.

Following an Oct. 21 hearing, BISD successfully requested Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, cancel the upcoming Nov. 5 election. 

The district’s request came after the Ninth Court of Appeals found that Judge Floyd abused his discretion by sanctioning the election in violation of Texas state law

Judge Floyd’s order states that it is consistent with the Ninth Court’s ruling and the election should be rescheduled. The ruling orders the parties to agree upon a hearing date by Oct. 28 concerning when the election should be rescheduled.

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 and board members Woodrow Reece, Terry D. Williams, Janice Brassard, Gwen Ambres and Zenobia Randall Bush.

A day after the cancelation order, the plaintiffs filed a writ of mandamus seeking to vacate the judge’s ruling and allow the elections to continue.

On Oct. 22 the appeals court denied the writ, court records show.

“A writ of mandamus may be issued to correct a clear abuse of discretion when that abuse cannot be remedied by appeal,” the Ninth Court’s opinion states. “After reviewing the mandamus record and petition, we conclude that the relators have not demonstrated that they are entitled to mandamus relief. We deny the petition for writ of mandamus and the motion for temporary relief.”

On Oct. 17 the Ninth Court had issued an opinion concluding “the trial court abused its discretion by approving the Board’s order and by sanctioning an election that is designed to be conducted in violation of State laws.”

“The trial court’s order, as well as the trial court’s findings and conclusions that are inconsistent with this Court’s opinion are reversed, and the case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with the Court’s opinion,” writes Justice Hollis Horton.

Soon after, BISD field its Motion for Orders on Election, stating that the appeals court ruled that BISD cannot hold an election on a map that does not include at large-districts, but also reiterated that the district has no power to cancel the Nov. 5 election.

The original complaint alleges 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.

The plaintiffs are represented in part by Beaumont attorneys Michael Truncale and Mike Getz.

Case No. E194-295

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