Ninth Court of Appeals declares November BISD election illegal

A Ninth Court of Appeals ruling announced Thursday morning says that the November Beaumont Independent School District board of trustees election planned for November would be illegal.

The decision makes it clear that the board must go with a 5 single member district, 2 at-large seat plan instead of the 7 single member district plan that was scheduled.

BISD attorney Melody Chappell told 12News it is not yet clear whether the election will go forward.

Chappell said the Court of Appeals decision, "...denied to place (attorney Mike) Getz candidates into office but said BISD must go to a 5-2 election plan now that voting rights act preclearance is gone. Victory. We will decide whether election goes forward after digesting opinion."

Attorney Mike Getz was baffled that Chappell would call the ruling a victory. 

"How can it be called a victory when it is... saying that any type of 7 single member district election that BISD attempts to run, is illegal?" Getz told 12News Thursday.

Getz said he was happy about the ruling, but would have been happier if it did not prevent his clients, trustee candidates Donna Forgas, Linda Gilmore, and Marcelino Rodriguez, from being eligible for election in November.

The team of attorneys representing Forgas, Gilmore and Rodriguez spoke at the Press Club of Southeast Texas meeting held Thursday the Cafe del Rio in Beaumont. It was a meeting at which BISD officials were also scheduled to speak about district policies, but they abruptly left before the meeting began saying they were not prepared to discuss the court's recent ruling.

If the election does take place, the only contested seat would be that of District 7 Trustee Janice Brassard, who would go up against challenger Joey Hilliard. Hilliard says the situation is disappointing.

"It's almost heartbreaking," Hilliard told 12News. "Here we go, we're back on hold again, and again, and again."


Judgment issued:

THE NINTH COURT OF APPEALS, having considered this cause on appeal, concludes that the order of the trial court should be reversed and the cause remanded to the trial court. IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the trial court's order on motion for temporary injunction is reversed, and the matter is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent wiahthis Court's opinion. All costs of the appeal are assessed against theappellees.

Opinion of the Court delivered by Justice Hollis Horton

October 17, 2013


This is a developing story.  Check back for updates.


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