Mingus sues to stop November consolidation election

Late Thursday afternoon, Mingus Union High School District filed a lawsuit to keep voters from deciding whether its school district should merge with Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

Late Thursday afternoon, Mingus Union High School District filed a lawsuit to keep voters from deciding whether its school district should merge with Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

COTTONWOOD -- Late Thursday afternoon, Mingus Union High School District filed a lawsuit to keep voters from deciding whether its school district should merge with Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District.

At 5:15 p.m., Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter was served, as were the Yavapai County Recorder, Yavapai County Election Director, and the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors and the Committee for Better Upper Verde Valley Schools.

The lawsuit “challenges the constitutionality” of the recently passed consolidation statute, A.R.S. § 15-459.

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Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter

The lawsuit "alleges that consolidation proponents circulated petitions to place the question on the November 6, 2018 general ballot without any legal authority,” according to a news release sent out by the district.

The news release cited the Committee for Better Upper Valley Schools, which was the forefront in circulating petitions.

“The Committee paid circulators to gather signatures and filed its petitions with the Yavapai County School Superintendent on June 4, 2018,” the news release states.

The news release states that the statute authorizing consolidation does not become effective until Aug. 3, 2018, “thus, there is no legal basis to hold this election.” It also states that consolidation “would trigger instability” in the Valley Academy of Career and Technology Education programs since the new district would not be part of the academy’s charter.

Carter said his office is named as a defendant in the suit “because we’re parties to the process.”

“It’s a process they have to go through because they want to stop the election,” Carter said. “Suing me, suing the board of supervisors, suing the recorder, suing the election director.”

According to Carter, plaintiffs in the suit are the Mingus Union High School District, as well as three Yavapai County electors Michael Westcott, Cyndi Ricca, and Kassidy Thagard.

Presiding Yavapai County Superior Court Judge David Mackey will hear the case on Tuesday, July 31, Carter also said.

Mingus Union Superintendent Penny Hargrove could not be reached for comment.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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703s10 1 month ago

This is a good way to spend our education dollars. I guess the electors in the Verde Valley are not smart enough to make a rational decision. The MUHS Board knows better than us.

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centurion75 1 month ago

The process of getting consolidation on the ballot was haphazard at best, illegal at worst. But the legal arguments in my mind are outweighed by the greater fight. There is no doubt that a consolidation would severely damage the high school; it could even be catastrophic. These board members are fighting for their teachers, their staff, their families. Gotta respect that.

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