Judge rules in favor of school board; Temporary Restraining Order dismissed

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Carolyn Roy | News Editor

Tenth Judicial District Judge Lala B. Sylvester ruled in favor of the Natchitoches Parish School Board Wednesday morning when she said that a temporary restraining order (TRO) should be dissolved and dismissed the suit against the school board.

Randall Hennigan of Marthaville sought the TRO that was granted by Sylvester June 3 at 2:30 p.m., before the school board was to meet at 5 p.m.

After about an hour and a half hearing and then a recess Wednesday, June 16, Sylvester returned to give her oral decision saying it was not political, sentimental nor populace in nature but was a decision based on law. She said there was no basis to uphold the TRO since the school board had not voted on consolidation and that the plaintiff had “suspected” harm but no action occurred. She said the school board had the power to vote on consolidation, an agenda item, but it was not voted on.

She said that should the school board vote to consolidate, and should Hennigan feel irreparable harm would be done, he could visit the need for more litigation if circumstances change.

During the hearing, school board attorney Robert Hammonds argued that, according to Louisiana law, the school board had the right to consolidate districts and create its own districts without a public vote. He said the citizens of Marthaville were duly represented because they were represented by an elected school board member.

Attorneys for Hennigan, Morgan Briggs and Connor Headrick, argued that according to the preamble to the state constitution, students could not be denied access to equal education. They said riding long distances to a new school would deny that access.

Supt. Grant Eloi said he would confer with board president Steven Harris about the next steps the board would take.