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Carolyn Bates was sworn in as a member of the Dallas County School Board last week at the central office. -- Ashley Johnson
Carolyn Bates was sworn in as a member of the Dallas County School Board last week at the central office. -- Ashley Johnson

Officials, courts looking into board member’s legitimacy

Published 8:44pm Friday, March 1, 2013

Carolyn Bates, long time educator and autism representative for the Selma Disabilities Advocacy Program, was sworn in as a member of the Dallas County School Board last week, but a judge will determine whether or not she can remain in office.

In November, it was discovered by the school board and other county officials that though Bates had won the election running unopposed, she may not be qualified because she does not live in the district in which she ran for office.

The address she listed in her statement to declare her candidacy states she lives on Kingsley Drive, but school board attorney John Pilcher said that area is no longer part of District 3, but rather is part of District 5.

Now Frank Chestnut Sr., who ran as a write-in candidate against Bates, has filed an election contest that is now in litigation.

“It’s pretty simple,” Chestnut’s attorney Wes Kelley said. “The election contest, it is based purely on the fact that [Chestnut] believes, and we have the information to believe, that Mrs. Bates was not a resident of District 3 at the time that she qualified. The law says that you have to be a resident of that district to qualify.”

He said the case is now in litigation and in the discovery phase, meaning both sides are asking questions of one another and gathering information such as proof of residence like bills and letters.

Kelly confirmed a complaint from his office had been filed for the election contest and there was no court date yet so that the discovery phase could continue. He confirmed Bates had filed an answer through her attorney saying she was a resident of District 3 when she qualified to run for office.

The confusion as to why Bates ran for office for District 3 could have come from a mistake made by the Dallas County School Board in 2009, when they appointed a replacement for a board member who resigned.

The board appointed Freeman Waller to District 3 who lives on Woodrow Avenue, just down the street from Bates on the same side of Summerfield Road.

Pilcher said everything on one side of Summerfield Road is in District 5 and the other in District 3.

When Waller was appointed Pilcher said the board, “didn’t check it, we should have, but we didn’t.” He said Waller did not know he was in the wrong district seat and neither did the board.

“We didn’t know about the problem until we learned about Mrs. Bates’ problem,” Pilcher said.

The confusion was spurred on also by the fact that Bates ran unopposed in the Democratic primary earlier in 2012, so her name did not appear on the ballot until the November election. When her name did appear and those that might have tried to vote for her, failed to do so because of their address on their voting card.

Bates also said the Dallas County Board of Registrars had not updated her voting list and she had to go to the registrar office to update her voting information.

“My voting list information was not updated until Feb. 13, 2013,” Bates said. “I mailed separate cards in and nothing was changed, so I walked into the office and manually got the list updated, and this is where I am.”

Though both sides in the case stand by their argument that Bates was or was not living in her district during the election, the fact remains that for now she is sworn in and has the power to sit in on board meetings while the case is still in litigation.

“The business of the school board will now be subject to the uncertainty of the pending case,” Pilcher said about Bates swearing into office.

Pilcher said he feels questions will come up now that she is sworn in such as, during meetings, will quorum depend on whether or not Bates is present because they are unsure if she is a lawful board member.

Pilcher said she came to a school board meeting earlier this year and told the board members she would not take office until the election contest was settled.

“And that satisfied the board,” Pilcher said.

But last week Bates was sworn into office at the Dallas County School central office.

Bates contends she is rightfully the District 3 representative and said, “The whole process really arrived out of misunderstanding is what I see and interpretations from people and hearsay and I have provided sufficient evidence in regards to the district qualifications.”

She said she ran for office to make sure all children receive an education and that there is, “no child that cannot learn,” despite their disabilities.

  • popdukes12

    Either she lived in the district or she didn’t, prior to the election. Proof should be shown, and put this to rest ASAP. pops

    • aacourtland.ac@gmail.com

      I agree.

  • selmadisability@cs.com

    Selma Times Journal and Ashley Johnson, news reporter it would have been decent and in order to give respect to an elected official office with two separate stories especially if you were not screening your stories for facts and libel, slander and defamation of character. I informed Selma Times Journal news reported and paper prior to your press time about posting libel news against me purported by a liar such as Attorney John Pilcher. You had a duty to verify your facts prior to printing this story. You should have consulted the Dallas Board of Education Chairman or Superintendant referrence to Dallas County Board of Education members, not a bald-face liar and instigator such as Attorney Pilcher.

    If, you do not retract these false statements purported by an Attorney Pilcher who is an unofficial speaking for Dallas County Board of Education members; I will seek relief under legal authority.

    Carolyn Calhoun-Bates does not usually address lies purported by public during legal issues unless it is vicious libel as in Ashley Johnson’s story. “Facts are Dallas County Board of Education voted against all of Attorney John Pilcher’s libel, slander, defamation and lies in the above article such as! “The busines of the school board will not be subject to the uncertainty of the pending case,” “Pilcher said about Bates swearing into office”. “Pilcher said he feels questions will come up now that she is sworn in such as, during meeting, wil quorum depend on whether or not Bates is present because they are unsure if she is a lawful board member”.

    Pilcher entire statements are libel,slander, defamation of character and misrepresentation of the Dallas County Board of Education members and documented that board voted against this questionable attorney John Pilcher that represent the board of education! February 28, 2013, during board meeting; Pilcher is very aware that Carolyn Calhoun-Bates received a welcome from the Dallas County Board of Education by unanimous legal votes.

    Carolyn Calhoun-Bates didn’t come to the school board meeting earlier this year to tell the board member that she would not take office until the election contest was settled. January 31, 2013, through request to be placed on the agenda, Carolyn Calhoun-Bates came to the board meeting to provide evidence that John Pilcher is a liar, including his statement “We didn’t know about the problem until we learned about Mrs. Bates’ problem,” Pilcher said.

    Facts are Carolyn Calhoun-Bates does not know where anyone actually lives and don’t know anything about Pilcher’s allegations. However, during investigation it was revealed and confirmed that Pilcher and the Dallas County Board of Education members were aware of there mistake and violation years prior to Pilcher’s false statement in this news article to purport lies and malice actions against an elected official to the public for support.

    Facts are Carolyn Calhoun-Bates has not been disqualified by any authority Democratic Party or Secretary of State that has the same information and has not receive an official notification Democratic Party, Secretary of State or judge of probate referrence to any such statements purported by Attorney John Pilcher in this article.

    Facts are Pilcher is working in conflict and against the Dallas County Board of Education unanimous legal vote confirming that the board of education is not, and will not become a party or involve with Frank Chestnut, Sr. contest of election.

    Facts are John Pilcher has purported numerals lies on behalf to the Dallas County Board of Education members in violation of the Code of Alabama, and his oath of office as an attorney conspiring to obtain support for a contest of election to assist fellow attorneys through libel, slander, defamation and misrepresenting and involving Dallas County Board of Education members in legal affairs.

    Also, Ashley Johnson you purported fales facts referrence to Carolyn Calhoun-Bates family members voting, voting records are private and sealed. How do you know about family members voting without violating privacy and voting rights? How do you know who are my family members, where they lives, and how they they may have voted? It seen to me that some election official(s) discussed, provided, and/or violated citizens voting and private rights.
    Response by Carolyn Calhoun-Bates, Dallas County Board of Education, State of Alabama Oath of Office

    • popdukes12

      I’m sorry, Is this Selmadisability taking the STJ to task from their web site (as it appears) or a disgruntled candidate for the school board. This is confusing, or is it one in the same? If Ms. Bates has personal opinions, it looks like she would pay the $4.95 a month for a separate account with the STJ, and not put this on the organization.

  • selmadisability@cs.com

    selmadisability@cs.com @f28cfa8e4f82767f95b4de83aa90c64a:disqus I responded to your posting on yesterday, however I don’t see the posting today! I am posting again and responding to your unfounded false posting regarding a person suing and receiving funding from school boards! Please post your evidence of making a living suing school boards with your total! Please post your evidence of receiving funding as I said yesterday make sure that you have your facts prior to posting libel to the public! Only in Selme lies fly…Lord, please help us!!!

  • MO-OF-IT

    Amazing that a person who makes a living suing school boards is actually on one and receives funding from them; only in Selma!

    Thank God for the State Legislators who have recognized the
    failure of the public system and have given citizens the opportunity for a tax credit when spending hard earned post tax dollars to properly educate their children in private schools.

    Keep Hope Alive

    • popdukes12

      The problem with the tax credit is that the school the student is leaving must be declared as “failing”, and the credit is only 80% of the average per student expenditure. Most Selma schools spend about $8,000 per student. As to the new school board member…….OMG!!!!! pops

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