Tensions run high as BISD votes to appeal court ruling

The Beaumont Independent School District board meeting deteriorated into chaos Thursday night with two board members getting into a confrontation and a third board member walking out of the meeting.

It was standing room only as the board considered the controversial move of appealing a decision by the Ninth Court of Appeals, a decision that could possibly oust three incumbent board members.

The board members, Woodrow Reece, Zenobia Bush and Terry Williams did not file to run in the May 11th election because they were under the impression their term was not up.

However, the appeals court ruled that under the most recent redistricting map, all seven seats were on the ballot.

On Thursday night, in a 4-to-2 decision, the board voted to appeal that ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.

But the final say is up to the U.S. Department of Justice, which must pre-clear any action to make sure it does not violate voting rights.

The DOJ has until May 20th to make a decision, which means the May 11th election could be jeopardized.

Board attorney Melody Chappell asked the board to hire a law firm that specializes in these type cases to represent the district. She recommended the Houston firm of Brazil & Dunn.

In another 4-to-2 vote, the board voted to hire the firm.

But before the votes took place, the meeting got chaotic.

During the public comment portion, citizens spoke for and against appealing the decision. Those for it said the ruling was a scheme by those who had lost the previous board election to steal the seats from the incumbent.

But those against appealing said the board had to respect the rule of law.

Some members of the audience resorted to name-calling and racial allegations.

BISD police had to escort one man from the podium who had exceeded his speaking time limit.

Then, during executive session, board members Terry Williams and Mike Neil got into a heated exchange. That led to board member Janice Brassard leaving the meeting in frustration.


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