Delaware Public Media

Chancery judge allows suit questioning Red Clay referendum tactics to move forward

Oct 7, 2015

A Chancery Court judge has rejected Red Clay School District’s request to dismiss a lawsuit alleging it blocked access to the ballot and unduly influenced a recent tax referendum.

 

In a 129-page opinion issued Wednesday, Chancellor Travis Laster said questions about some district “get out the vote” tactics are enough to move the case forward.

 

ACLU Delaware, which brought the suit, says it intends to move ahead with it.

 

The organization accuses the district of blocking access to handicap parking spaces, giving out free pizza to those who voted in a recent tax referendum and illegally targeting certain residents in the district.

 

“Free pizza, people being bombarded with how to vote one way or the other when they walk in the door, none of that is allowable and is not conducive to a fair election,”  said Kathleen MacRae, head of ACLU Delaware.

 

The February tax referendum passed with nearly 900 votes, while two other referendums in neighboring Christina School District failed.

 

The case could now move to trial, though Laster says Red Clay could instead hold another election without using tactics in question to affirm the old results.

 

MacRae didn’t offer a preference on what direction the case takes crom this point, but adds another referendum comes with a price tag.

 

“These elections are put on by the State Department of Elections and each one costs about $50,000 or more, so it’s just putting another burden on the taxpayer,” said MacRae.

 

Red Clay School District responded to the decision in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

 

"We believe the ruling didn't say anything about the facts of the case, but just as a matter of procedure.  We believe we acted in good faith," said the statement.

 

A district spokesperson added there are no plans to hold another referendum.