The Jasper County Commission is Named in the Third Lawsuit Deali - KOAM TV 7

The Jasper County Commission is Named in the Third Lawsuit Dealing with Joplin's School Board

CARTHAGE, MISSOURI -       The Joplin school board is now the subject of three lawsuits. And a new one names the Jasper County Commission.  Last week a lawsuit was filed in Newton County ordering the school board to swear-in Jim Kimbrough based on a May 26th three to two vote. The same lawsuit is now filed in Jasper County as of Friday.  But now a third lawsuit is against the county commission.

           Three citizens filed it saying the commission's appointments to the school board were not just out of order but also in violation of the sunshine law.  County commissioners clearly admitted to  discussing potential school board members before the public meeting at which they were nominated, approved and sworn into the position.

Western district commissioner Darieus Adams told people at the special meeting June 11th, “We talk about names, put those names out. Typically we will call them or  send them a letter. Whatever it might be and ask them if they would be willing to serve. So, that's the process we used in the vacancies on the school board."

A lawsuit filed by three citizens contends commissioners violated the Sunshine Law by not discussing those being considered during a publicized meeting. The commission does post on its website that its members are "in session" daily.

But it posts an agenda for its weekly Tuesday morning meetings where most public votes are taken.  And there was an agenda for the special meeting.

Eastern district commissioner Jim Honey said when commissioners were asked why rush to fill positions, "We've been at this for two or three months, Koch, them,  trying to find members for the school board since the  April election, its here."

Two or three months ago there was only one vacancy on the board. Randy Steele's happened just before the May 26th vote. Mike Landis' came after that. Board President Jeff Koch says, "We haven't had a single regular meeting since the two other resignations."

And he says the vote for Kimbrough could have been perfected at the next meeting. 

Koch says, "I want to do what is right not what's easiest or fastest. That's where this is a problem, putting the two things together. Lane Roberts is one issue. The two resignations are another issue. "

Koch says he's been actively seeking advice since the failed vote on Jim Kimbrough's appointment from the Missouri State School Board Association.  Susan Goldhammer, from MSBA, says the courts are the best place to resolve this with declarative action.

Those appointed by the commission don't plan to discuss lawsuits against the board. But Sallie Beard says,"I don't have any concerns about it other than I intend to let the legal system play itself out  and leave that in the hands  of the attorneys.  Its really not for us to decide."

   Koch says the district is getting advice from private attorney Guin Mundorf LLC, hired by the district to help with the recent unionization vote. 

     That's because  the board's own, norman Rouse has recused himself, because he works for Jasper county and the school board.

     Koch hopes the courts rule before the boards next regularly scheduled meeting June 23-rd.
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