A Boone County judge has ruled that Columbia Public Schools (CPS) violated state statute in the Chuck Basye school board filing case. While CPS can appeal Judge Brouck Jacobs’ decision, the Rocheport Republican tells 939 the Eagle that he’s confident and hopeful that name will appear on the April school board ballot.
Judge Jacobs issued his ruling Monday afternoon after a two-hour bench trial at the Boone County Courthouse. The trial was contentious at times.
Former Missouri House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee chair Basye filed a 16-page lawsuit against CPS and the board this month, alleging they broke state law when they didn’t accept his candidate filing on December 27. The district says Basye didn’t follow CPS rules about making an appointment by December 22. Judge Jacobs ruled that requiring an appointment violated state law.
The state law in question reads, in part: “If the closing date for filing a declaration of candidacy for any office in a political subdivision or special district is not required by law or charter, the closing filing date shall be 5 pm, the fourteenth Tuesday prior to the election.” CPS attorney Natalie Ann Hoernschemeyer told Judge Jacobs that there is nothing in that statute requiring Columbia Public Schools to be open up until 5 pm on December 27, saying Basye could have made an appointment by December 22. Counselor Hoernschemeyer also says the district didn’t want to make special rules for one candidate.
Bayse attorney Brent Haden told Judge Jacobs that CPS’ refusal to certify Basye’s candidacy exceeded the district and the board’s authority. The court agreed.
CPS could appeal to the Western District, but the deadline for Boone County clerk Brianna Lennon to prepare ballots for the April election is February 7. Judge Jacobs has given Basye until 5 pm tomorrow (Tuesday) to file a judgment.
CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark has issued a statement about Judge Jacobs’ ruling. She notes Missouri lawmakers in 2022 changed state law, moving the closing date for candidate filing to a date that regularly falls around the Christmas holiday. She says CPS’ procedures aligned with those of school districts across Missouri to set business hours and access when districts are closed. She also says the district remained consistent with current procedures for all candidates “rather than change them for certain individuals.”
“The district is pleased that this issue appears to be on the legislative agenda for this session, with the General Assembly already introducing bills to make the candidate filing process for board elections clearer and more uniform for school districts across Missouri,” Baumstark writes, in part.