Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

27 Oct 2021

Lawsuit against Durango School District 9-R Board seeks special election

Posted by Adam Howell


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A lawsuit filed against Durango School District 9-R Board of Education and its election official seeks to force them to hold a special election following their illegal cancellation of an election for an abandoned Board of Directors seat, the petition said.

For the petitioners, the problem arose when Andrea Parmenter, a former board member in District D, allegedly abandoned her residency in District D more than 90 days before the election without notifying the board.

Colorado Revised Statute 22-31-129 (3) says “If the vacancy occurs within the ninety-day period prior to a regular biennial school election and the unexpired term is for more than two years, an appointee to the office of school director shall serve until the next succeeding regular biennial school election when a successor for the remainder of the term is elected and has qualified.”

One result of the board thinking that Parmenter vacated District D within 90 days of the election, was that they illegally cancelled the election in District D and instead appointed a board director (Katie Stewart) to it.

Then, while allegedly living in a different district (District E), Parmenter allegedly voted on board business at board meeting(s) (5/11/2021, 5/25/2021, 6/22/2021, 6/28/2021), according to Board of Education records.

Lawsuit a response from concerned parents

The lawsuit comes from parents Christina McMunn, Cam Formby, Cathy Patterson and Stanley Patterson, all concerned parents residing in the school district.

In response, their lawyer Scott Gessler filed the lawsuit in district court with two objectives in mind. One, to ask a judge to order a special election for District D and to order the 9-R board and its election to accept proper nomination petitions from eligible electors seeking to run.


Multiple indicators of residency in District E prior to notifying Board of Education

Several pieces of evidence suggest that Parmenter lived in District E prior to her notifying the Board of her vacancy in District D. Here are some of the claims of the plaintiffs:

  1. United States Postal Service records show that Parmenter changed her mailing address to 440 County Road 239, Durango, CO 81301 (District E) in May 2021.
  2. Also in May 2021, Mr. Barney Siegel, a person who cohabitates with Parmenter, also changed his mailing address with the U.S. Postal Service to 440 County Road 239, Durango, CO 81301 (District E).
  3. Corroborating information about Parmenter and Siegel moving is the fact that the previous occupant of 440 County Road 239 also filed a change of address in May 2021, showing that he moved out of the property.
  4. Texts and picture messages sent via cellular phone from Parmenter to her kids on May 14 while living at 440 County Road 239, in Durango.
  5. The property manager of 2341 Forest Ave said that Parmenter and Siegel vacated the property on 5/7/2021.
  6. On October 3, 2021, the owner of 2341 Forest Avenue said that he had lived at that location for “about a year.” He said that Parmenter had not lived there during his residency, and that she moved out of that location before he moved into the residence.


If the lawsuit against the Board of Education doesn’t get dismissed, more evidence of this residency status will be uncovered. Subpoenas and testimony given under oath could show where Parmenter was indeed living.

Parmenter failed to return my phone call seeking comment for this story.

Official response from Public Information Officer Julie Popp

lawsuit

This is Andrea Parmenter.

Durango School District 9-R Public Information Officer Julie Popp responded to my questions about Parmenter’s residency during her alleged absence from District D.

“The board was notified on August 10, 2021 that Andrea Parmenter would be moving out of her director district (D) on August 16, 2021. The law (see link below and accompanying attachments on said link) states that a board must claim a vacancy (cannot run an election) if the vacancy occurs within 90 days of an election.  The August 28, 2021 meeting was cancelled, so Ms. Parmenter’s vacancy was announced at the September 7, 2021 meeting, and she vacated her seat immediately. The board then announced the vacancy and began the steps for an appointment.”

“We have consulted our attorneys as well as the legal team at the Colorado Association of School Boards regarding recent allegations pertaining to the school board election and the recent appointment of the District D seat. We have not found any evidence of wrongdoing and are committed to ensuring a lawful election.”

Board President Kristin Smith on board elections and vacancy

Board President Kristin Smith mentioned the vacancy at the Board of Education special meeting on September 7, 2021.

“This is a very exciting election and we’re really excited for the opportunity that the 9-R school district has to invite more new board members to our school board.

Alright, the next up is our new agenda item number five, and we have a resolution of vacancy.  We have a resolution declaring vacancy on the board of directors.  Board of Director, Andrea Parmenter became a non-resident of her Director District D August 16, 2021 resulting in vacancy of the Durango 9-R School Board.

Be it therefore resolved that a vacancy is hereby declared on the board pursuant to CRS-2232-129 for the remainder of term ending November 7, 2023.”



Lawsuit and website created to promote transparency, accountability

A website was created in conjunction with the lawsuit to promote a special election and raise awareness. The founders desire leaders with integrity who are committed to transparency and accountability.

Specifically, their website is called Durango School Watch and it can be found at https://www.durangoschoolwatch.com.

21.10.25 Civil Case Cover Sheet

21.10.25-Petition-1

21.11.16 Answer – Durango SD

Adam Howell is a writer who believes in free press and the importance of the constitution. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.


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