Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Judge gives county commission, school board six days to respond to lawsuit
In a pair of orders issued this morning, Judge Joe Hensley gave the Jasper County Commission and the Joplin R-8 Board of Education until Monday, June 22, to respond to legal actions filed Friday by attorney Jonathan Pierce on behalf of Joplin residents Joshua Bard, Jon Buck, and Jamie Johnson.
The action against the board asks the judge for a writ of mandamus ordering the board to seat Jim Kimbrough and for board secretary Pat Waldo to administer the oath of office to him. In documentation filed with the petition, Pierce says that when a vote to put Kimbrough on the board during the May 26 meeting ended 3-2 with Board President Jeff Koch, Debbie Fort, and Jennifer Martucci saying "yes" and Lynda Banwart and Mike Landis voting "no," the simple majority was enough to put Kimbrough on the board. Board member Randy Steele had resigned just before the meeting.
Two days later, Landis announced his resignation, saying that his purpose was to send the decision on who the new board members would be to the Jasper County Commission which, according to state law, makes the choice if three or more vacancies exist. The petition says that only two vacancies existed because Kimbrough should have been seated to replace Lane Roberts.
Pierce also filed a petition for writ of mandamus against the County Commission, asking Judge Hensley to rule that Kimbrough had been seated and that the Commission's decision to appoint Gary Nodler, Sallie Beard, and Ron Gatz should never have happened since there were never three vacancies.
The petition also calls for sanctions against the County Commission for violating the Sunshine Law by not posting the meeting or meetings in which they discussed potential board members and by sending Commissioner Darieus Adams to talk to applicants alone so that they would not have to abide by the Sunshine Law.