Monday, March 25 2013, 11:18 PM CDT
BISD board hires attorneys for election concerns
BEAUMONT - By Megan Dillard
The scheduled Beaumont school board elections are less than two months away.
The board held a special meeting tonight to address concerns raised at last Thursday's board meeting.
May 11 is the scheduled date for that election but many parts of the plan are still up in the air.
Here is a timeline: People who live in Beaumont voted for a 5-2 redistricting map instead of the current 7-0 plan.
The Justice Department wouldn't pre-clear a 5-2 plan because the DOJ says it would dilute minority voting strength.
In March the board rescinded a 7-0 redistricting map trustees approved in February.
This is because the board adopted it 10 days past the election deadline.
Then, a Beaumont attorney representing three people stated because of redistricting, all seven seats shound be up for election in May.
The 9th court of appeals ruled against the district meaning those three people are slated to be on the ballot.
Last Thursday, in a five-two vote, the board passed action to appeal that court ruling.
Tonight, in a five-two vote, the board approved the hiring of a law firm to work on the district's behalf.
Board member Tom Neild asked for a cost estimate. An attorney from the firm explained he could provide the hourly rate but couldn't give a ballpark estimate for the overall cost of services.
We approaced those attorneys for comment but neither man agreed to speak with KFDM.
Both Mike Neil, who voted against hiring the firm, and Board President Woodrow Reese who voted in favor, voiced a shared hope this is a step in the right direction.
The board also voted to file a declaratory judgement action for immediate pre-clearance of the 7-0 map.
The district released a statement after the meeting saying BISD is taking this step to comply with the 9th Court of Appeals decision that requires BISD to seek pre-clearance.
State law mandates the district holds a May election.