GALVESTON

Controversy is brewing after school district officials apparently rejected a former trustee’s application to run again for a post from which he resigned.

Beau Rawlins, who occupied the District 6-F seat for nine years, resigned Feb. 9, citing difficulties in his personal life. He said he filed to run again for the post a half-hour before the window closed Aug. 21.

As it currently stands, Rawlins was not listed on the county’s tentative ballot for the November election, officials said.

Rawlins at the time he resigned said that because of a divorce, he had to moved out of the district.

Galveston school district policy requires candidates to be in the office’s territory for six months before the filing deadline, which would have been Feb. 21.

District 6-F covers the West End of the island.

District officials apparently rejected the application, citing comments about moving out of the district as a primary season for the denial.

“Unfortunately, this is in direct opposition to your previous statements to the public and me, that you had left that address and had moved elsewhere,” said Emily Fortune, secretary of schools, in a letter released to The Daily News.

While a series of letters exchanged between Fortune and Rawlins discuss the topic of Rawlins’ residency, district officials have declined to directly address Rawlins’ application.

“The district is responsible for reviewing applications for statutory compliance only and sending accurate information to the county,” Superintendent Kelli Moulton said.

“If a candidate’s application is rejected, it is up to that candidate as to their next steps, there is not an internal district process and I cannot speculate as to what a potential candidate may or may not do. Galveston ISD has not filed any type of administrative or civil action contesting any candidates’ application to run for a seat on the board.”

County officials said they just receive names to put on the ballot from district officials and that Rawlins isn’t currently listed on the November ballot.

Rawlins, in an email sent to board President Matthew Hay, asks him to reconsider the decision to reject the application before the matter becomes legal.

“It really saddens me that I have to consider filing a suit to simply and fairly run for the position I should have never resigned from,” Rawlins said. “I did so out of being in a horrible position of not being able to fight back, as you know.”

While Rawlins temporarily moved out of the district, his permanent residence never changed and therefore he is eligible to run in the election, the letter asserts.

Julia Hatcher, the attorney representing Rawlins, said Rawlins only resigned under pressure.

“From what I understand, the board’s attorney, Erik Nichols, forced him to resign because he moved out of the district,” Hatcher said. “I don’t understand his legal reasoning.”

Furthermore, district officials don’t have authority to investigate outside the application to determine whether a candidate is eligible to be placed on the ballot, Hatcher asserts in a letter to the district.

If district officials don’t agree to place Rawlins’ name on the ballot by 5 p.m. today, then Hatcher and Rawlins will pursue all legal remedies, the letter asserts.

“I’ll file an emergency petition with the appellate court and ask them to order the district to put Beau on the ballot,” Hatcher said. “There’s no legal reason to keep him off.”

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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(3) comments

Don Ciaccio

Does Texas law allow a staff member(s) to determine election eligibility? I don't think so.... And if the Board determined Beau was ineligible with input from their lawyer, they did so without any posting of it on an agenda. Did a minority of the Board ask the staff member to draft the letter - trying to put distance between themselves and the potentially unpopular decision? Or was it a decision made in violation of walking quorum rules? One may reasonably ask - So did the staff member(s) commit a crime or did the Board?

Don Ciaccio

btw - This is Norman Pappous - Not Don.

Raymond Lewis

Phew. Thanks for clearing that up, Norm.

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