OPS Faces Legal Fight over Oath of Office
Omaha, NE - The newest members of the Omaha Board of Education took the oath of office three weeks ago, possibly illegally.
The board members were sworn in at the first meeting of the year, January 7. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine says state law requires board members to be sworn in by the first Monday of the New Year or the election is void.
"It's something that could've been complied with simply, but it wasn't," Kleine explained. "It's frustrating from my standpoint in that it's something that shouldn't have to happen. Clearly they're not in compliance with the law and I think it's incumbent that we have to act."
OPS has defended the date, saying it is a long-standing precedent for new board members to be sworn in at the first meeting in January.
Six members took the oath this month including former President Freddie Gray, who resigned last week.
Five other members elected or re-elected in November were also sworn in this month; Jennifer Tompkins Kirshenbaum, Danyelle Baratta, Sarah Brumfield, Nicole Walker-Nash and Mary Morrissey.
"We have always felt that we are operating within the framework of the law, that we are able to continue the business of the district. That's what we need to do and that's what we'll continue to do," said OPS Board President Marian Fey
Kleine's decision to take legal action comes as the Nebraska Legislature prepares to debate the bill to reduce the number of elected board members from 12 to nine. If the bill passes, new election sub-districts will take effect and a school board election will be added to the Omaha city primary ballot in April.
A judge will now decide if he agrees with Kleine's argument.