School board candidate sues after being disqualified from the race

RAPID CITY, S.D. — A candidate for the Rapid City school board elections is suing the school district’s Assistant Superintendent David Janak after he disqualified her from the race.

Lafawn Janis is running for school board in the Rapid City Area School District 51-4, Area 3. According to the lawsuit, Janak disqualified Janis from the race on April 2 after determining that her petition form was incomplete.

The lawsuit claims that the only other candidate running for the position, Brian Johnson, had the same alleged defect. It also says that the error was the result of a petition that Janak himself gave to Janis, which didn’t conform to the petition form guidelines set forth by the state.

According to the suit, Johnson’s associate Christopher Green challenged Janis’s petition, leading Janak to consult the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office about the error. He then found that the petition was incomplete and thus disqualified her.

After allegedly checking Johnson’s petition and seeing the same error, Janis challenged Johnson back. The claim says that Janak did not go to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office to review the error on Johnson’s petition.

The suit argues that had Janak done so, the Secretary of State’s office would have told him that if Janis was being disqualified her opponent should be treated the same way.

The lawsuit ultimately argues that Janak violated Janis’s rights to due process of law and equal protection laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

The election for school board is on June 4, and lawsuit indicates that the hard deadline for printing ballots is the end of April according to information from the County Auditor. The documents include a request to resolved the case by then so that the ballots don’t need to be reprinted and to prevent potential interference with the start of the voting process on May 20.




Categories: Local News, South Dakota News