Movement on Dripping Springs ISD’s $132 million bond has ground to a halt as a local group is contesting the outcome of the May referendum.
On June 18, the Citizens for Excellent Education in Dripping Springs (CEEDS) filed a lawsuit contesting the outcome of the May 5 election and a May 19 recount. One week after the litigation was filed, Dripping Springs ISD’s Board of Trustees on June 25 unanimously approved to retain counsel for a lawsuit to validate the outcome of the election.
CEEDS, a specific purpose Political Action Committee (PAC) against the district’s bond, filed the election contest after a recount of the May 5 bond election, which was initially approved by a narrow 31 vote margin.
The recount, which was canvassed by Hays County Commissioners in late May, showed the bond passing by a margin of 37 votes.
However, members of CEEDS believe the final canvass “is not the true outcome of the election,” and allege an election officer or other person involved in the administration of the election prevented eligible voters from participating, according to litigation documents.
CEEDS also alleges not all eligible voters were notified of the election or had the opportunity to participate. They cite 51 voters who reside in DSISD boundaries, but live in Travis County, who received no notice of the election, according to the lawsuit.
The suit also alleges officials mistakenly categorized an unknown number of voters in the county, including those who were not eligible to vote in the election, but did participate. The group also cited discrepancies in election numbers, primarily with early voting results.
According to a press release, CEEDS filed the lawsuit after the recount, which they believe had multiple procedural violations that “made it impossible to ensure that every ballot was present and that every vote was properly counted.”
Jerad Najvar, a Houston-based attorney, said in a statement that CEEDS is seeking a new election so the “dozens of voters who were apparently disenfranchised can have the opportunity to vote” on the bond measure.
“This election proves again that every vote matters – every qualified voter deserves the opportunity to cast a free and fair ballot,” Najvar said.
Bruce Gearing, Dripping Springs ISD superintendent, said the district could not comment on the litigation, but that all work on bond projects has stopped. In a statement, DSISD officials hope to “quickly and decisively resolve” the disputed allegations.
“Certainly we are cognizant of the fact that if we delay too long, that will impact students because of how soon we can get projects complete and facilities that are necessary to student growth,” Gearing said.