BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - State District Judge Tim Kelley denied a preliminary injunction filed by the NAACP against the East Baton Rouge School Board to stop their July redistricting vote from being carried out. The ruling was made Friday evening.
The suit had been filed by nine plaintiffs on behalf of the NAACP after the board voted to reduce the number of board members from 11 to 9 seats. The NAACP said the new districts diluted minority voters, so the suit challenged how the redistricting plan was approved.
"Everything that they did was in conflict with Louisiana law," said Alfreda Tillman Bester, general counsel for the Louisiana chapter of the NAACP. "The people did not have an adequate opportunity to voice their concerns about what the six members of the school board were doing."
Bester claims the board did not follow proper procedure, and said they didn't give people of the parish enough time to make a decision of this importance.
Bester also challenged the residency of board member Craig Freeman. Freeman accepted a teaching job in Oklahoma for the fall semester, but maintains a home in Baton Rouge. The suit claimed:
"Because Mr. Freeman's seat was VACANT, he was not authorized to vote on the reapportionment/redistricting of the EBRPSB, which means the vote was a 5-5 tie, and therefore, failed."
Board members Dr. Kenyetta Nelson-Smith and Freeman testified against each other during the hearing regarding his place of residence.
The NAACP said the bottom line is you're shrinking the voices of the people.
"This just lessens the opportunity for people to have access to their board members and that's not what we want we want all of the voices in this community heard," said Bester.
Bester said she will confer with her clients before deciding how to move forward. Qualifying for school board elections starts next week.