No decision made in recall election for Broken Bow school board member
BROKEN BOW, Neb. —
School politics are dividing the Broken Bow community and now the issue is being resolved in front of a judge.
A recall election is coming in a few weeks.
One school board member is challenging whether or not the process to remove him is legal.
A packed courtroom was not where Broken Bow community members thought they'd be when deciding the fate of the school board.
"This whole incident began because we have a school system that is fiscally out of control," said school district board member Randy Jenkins.
Petitioner, Drew Schendt submitted 550 signatures to the county clerk on Aug. 18 and 514 were valid.
But the court petition says the school district failed to set a recall election date.
"So we are essentially saying that they don't have the authority to decide whether or not the petition is valid under the statute when they received notice that there were enough signatures then they had a duty to set the election date," said primary circulator of the recall petition Drew Schendt.
A motion to set the date failed in a 3-to-3 vote after a closed session in which the school board reviewed a letter from Carl French's attorney.
"Based on the way the statutes are written and what the Nebraska supreme court has said in case law that these petitions are not valid and so the recall election as to Mr. French should not proceed," said French's attorney David Bargen.
"A judicial determination was never made. The school board took it upon themselves to make this legal conclusion," said Schendt.
French was one of the members who voted against his own recall because the filing was made three days late.
"My hope is that my client will prevail and that the recall statues will be applied as their written and as the Supreme Court has interpreted them," said Bargen.
His attorney cited this Nebraska Statute 32-1309, "No recall petition shall be filed against an elected official within...six months prior to this incumbent filing deadline for the office."
He says the necessary filing date for French is Feb. 15, 2018.
The Broken Bow school superintendent, through their attorney, told the judge the district would not be taking a position.
"The school district, it doesn't make sense for them to extend resources to fight a political battle," said Schendt.
District court Judge Karin Noakes took the hearing under advisement but said the court needs to make a decision quickly.
The recall stems from accusations in which two board members are allegedly trying to cut property taxes, affecting the students education.
Some voters want to recall J.B. Atkins as well.
That election is scheduled for Nov 14.