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UPDATE: Judge denies temporary order in state Board of Education lawsuits

UPDATE (9:30): Cole County Judge Jon Beetem has denied the two temporary restraining orders after hearing arguments in court Thursday afternoon.

Beetem’s ruling said Sumners “failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits.”

Beetem said Sumners’ request to bar Jennifer Edwards from participating on the Board was only possible through the Attorney General or an elected county prosecutor or circuit attorney.

The judge also denied a temporary restraining order for Springfield teacher Laurie Sullivan who claimed the Board violated the Sunshine Law by going into a closed session last week.

Beetem ruled Sullivan was unable to point to a decision made by the Board that would personally or adversely affect her.

“At most, she has a mere ‘generalized grievance’ that she potentially shares with other members of the public as a whole, which cannot support standing as a matter of law,” Beteem wrote in his ruling.

Greitens’ press secretary Parker Briden gave the following statement to ABC 17 News Thursday night:

“Today’s decision was a win for teachers and students. It affirms the Governor’s constitutional authority to make appointments as Missouri’s chief executive. Now we need to focus on the Governor’s priorities: raise teacher pay, support public schools, and help students succeed.”

Both cases will be scheduled for future hearings on Dec. 15.

ORIGINAL: Cole County Judge Jon Beetem will decide on two temporary orders in lawsuits involving the Missouri Board of Education and Gov. Eric Greitens.

The two cases were heard in court Thursday afternoon ahead of a state board meeting Friday morning.

On Tuesday, Tim Sumners filed a lawsuit against Greitens and the Board of Education asking the court to determine if he remains a board member and whether Greitens broke the law by rescinding his appointment.

Sumners claims Greitens’ staff pressured him to vote to replace education commissioner Margie Vandeven. The governor withdrew Sumners’ appointment and reappointed a new member, Jennifer Edwards, the day before members voted on whether to keep Vandeven as the commissioner.

Sumners’ attorney James Layton asked Judge Beetem in court Thursday to grant a temporary restraining order to allow Sumners to participate in Friday’s board meeting.

Layton argued in court Thursday afternoon that Sumners was considered a member of the Board of Education with his temporary appointment position. Layton said Sumners wasn’t given a notice or hearing for his removal from the board.

Assistant Attorney General Dean Sauer, representing Greitens, argued Sumners was not a full board member with his temporary appointment status and that Greitens removing Sumners from his position was legal.

Judge Beetem then heard arguments from attorneys representing a Springfield teacher who also filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Board of Education over its closed meeting on Nov. 21.

Laurie Sullivan claims the board violated the Sunshine Law by holding the closed meeting.

Beetem took both cases under advisement Thursday afternoon. It’s unclear if he will grant the temporary orders before Friday’s board meeting, which starts at 8:30 a.m. in Jefferson City.

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