A Bartow County school board member has been ordered to appear in court to answer allegations she's unlawfully and unconstitutionally serving as the District 5 representative.
Following the latest round of budget cuts and the school system's proposal to increase property taxes, individuals and local political parties expressed concerns on the validity of the board's February appointment of Anna Sullivan to fill the unexpired term of Larry Parker, who resigned to head up Bartow's new academy.
As a result, elections officials called a July special election to fill Parker's unexpired term; Sullivan and Greg Bowen have qualified to seek the District 5 seat in both the special election and Republican primary, both set for July 31.
But Sullivan continues to serve as a member of the school board, despite calls for her resignation or removal, including a Bartow GOP resolution urging the board to abide by local legislation. Opponents argue it trumps state law, disallowing appointments and requiring special elections to fill vacancies.
Bartow Tea Party Director Gail Engelhardt and Rydal resident Paul Nally today filed suit against Sullivan, requesting a Superior Court judge intervene and determine whether she legally fills the seat.
In the lawsuit, which is attached as a .pdf, the plaintiffs request a writ "for the purpose of inquiring into the legal authority of Anna Sullivan to hold her office."
They say not only was Sullivan's appointment illegal, but also her acceptance of the position, amounting to "an unlawful deprivation and taking of the property interest of all the taxpayers in the county."
Superior Court Judge Carey Nelson ordered Sullivan to appear June 13 for a 9 a.m. civil hearing in answer to the suit, which also asks that:
- State law allowing board appointments be declared unconstitutional;
- Bartow school board policy "upon which Sullivan has relied" be declared unconstitutional;
- The court find the only lawful process to fill a board vacancy is a special election;
- The court issue its conclusions on the legality of Sullivan holding office;
- All monies paid to Sullivan be ordered returned; and
- Sullivan be disqualified as a District 5 candidate in the July 31 primary "for illegally holding said office."