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Elections

DID THE COURT ALLOW THE SCHOOL DISTRICT’S MAY ELECTION TO PROCEED?

Editor’s Note:  This case involves a challenge to the Beaumont Independent School District school board election originally scheduled for May 2013.  The Board of Trustees since cancelled the May election and has ordered an election to be held in November.  The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted an injunction against the district prohibiting the May election generally because the district had not obtained preclearance for its redistricting plan from the U.S. Department of Justice.  The board intends to open a new candidate filing period before the November elections with three board seats open in that election.  The remaining board members will serve until their terms expire in 2015. See, Beaumont Independent School Dist. v. U.S., __F.Supp.2d __, 2013 WL 1932185 (D.D.C., 2013).

Case citation:  In re Jones, 2013 WL 1803626 (Tex. App. – Beaumont 2013) (unpublished).

Summary:  Beaumont citizen, Paul L. Jones, petitioned the trial court to require the Board of Trustees for the Beaumont Independent School District to rescind its order for a May 2013 school board election and to call a trustee election for November 2013.  The record showed that, on February 21, 2013, the board called a regular election for May 2013.  The board also adopted a single-member redistricting plan that altered the boundaries of the trustee districts.  Because the plan was adopted less than three months before the election, Jones argued that the plan did not comply with Election Code requirements and, therefore, was not effective for the May 2013 election.

Ruling:  The trial court denied Jones’s request to order the district to cancel the May election.  In a separate proceeding, the trial court exercised its equitable powers to grant relief that included allowing the May 2013 election to proceed using the voting map adopted by the board on February 21, 2013.  [See, In re Rodriguez, __ S.W.3d __, 2013 WL 1189005 (Tex. App. – Beaumont 2013); Texas School Administrators’ Legal Digest, May 2013].  The trial court observed in Rodriguez that the district had already requested preclearance of the redistricting plan from the U.S. Department of Justice.  Presumably, according to the court, the district would proceed with its efforts to receive preclearance prior to conducting the May election.  Thus, the trial court declined to delay the election unnecessarily and denied Jones’ petition.