Judge rules in favor of Basye in lawsuit against Columbia Public Schools
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that Basye's name is not yet added to the ballot.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A Boone County judge on Monday ruled in favor of former lawmaker Chuck Basye in his lawsuit to add his name to the Columbia Board of Education ballot for April's election.
Judge Brouck Jacobs heard arguments over whether Basye, who tried to file before the state-mandated deadline of Dec. 27 but didn't follow district filing instructions, should be added to the ballot that has already been finalized by the school board.
Jacobs ruled the district broke the law by not allowing Basye to file. Basye said he's confident his name will be on the April election ballot. Jacobs ordered Basye's lawyers to file a proposed judgment by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
During an interview after the ruling, Basye told reporters although Jacobs ruled CPS broke the law, he's already at at a disadvantage.
"I've missed at least one forum that I am aware of and until I am officially on that ballot I can't go to any forums, well I can go to them but I won't be able to participate," Basye said.
Basye's lawyer, Brent Haden argued during the bench trial that the district broke the law by not being open on Dec. 27 and should have been since Basye made it clear he wanted to file whenhe reached out on Christmas day. But the lawyers for the school district said Dec. 27 is a district holiday.
The district argued Basye should have asked for an appointment by 4 p.m. Dec. 22. CPS says when it is closed, it still allows candidates a change to file during business hours.
Based on comments made in previous hearing, CPS is most likely going to appeal the ruling.
Columbia Public Schools said in a statement the district follows procedures similar to districts across the state for candidate filing during the winter holiday break.
The state legislature recently changed the filing period dates, creating an issue for districts over winter break, CPS said in the statement. The district said it hopes the legislature will clarify the process this session.
An emergency hearing was held last Tuesday, when Jacobs decided to have a bench trial. The hearing was held to meet Tuesday's deadline for political subdivisions to submit their ballots to the county clerk.
During the hearing last week, the lawyer for the clerk's office said they will obey the decision Jacobs makes.
Basye filed a lawsuit against Columbia Public Schools saying he was not added to the list of candidates for the Columbia Board of Education election on the April 4 ballot.
CPS has said Basye did not make an appointment to file during the open filing period, which he needed to do because schools were closed for the holidays.
The district said its policy requires candidates who wished to file needed to make an appointment by 4 p.m. Dec. 22. The district posted its procedures on its website and says seven other candidates successfully filed.
In the lawsuit, Basye claims he sent an email to board of education secretary Noel McDonald and Superintendent Brian Yearwood saying that he was going to file a declaration of candidacy on or around Dece. 25, 2022. The petition claims Yearwood told Basye that his filing would have been accepted.
Basye's lawsuit claims the district does not have discretion on restricting when a candidate can file, as long as it is before the Dec. 27 deadline. Filing opened Dec. 6.
Jacobs ruled Columbia Public Schools broke the law by not allowing a candidate to file during the filing period.
If added to the ballot, Basye would join six other candidates. A seventh, Dean Klempke, initially filed and then had his name removed.