School board votes against settling lawsuit after discussions collapse

RAPID CITY, S.D. — On Wednesday the Rapid City Area Schools Board of Education met to decide whether they should settle a lawsuit brought on by a disqualified school board candidate. The school board says discussions collapsed during the meeting and it was unable to reach an agreement on the matter — meaning the case will now proceed to court.

“Our settlement discussions have just collapsed and cannot be resuscitated,” the school district said in a letter addressed to Judge Karen Schreier, who will now be ruling on the case.

Lafawn Janis filed the suit against the school district’s Assistant Superintendent David Janak at the beginning of April after he disqualified her from the race.

The disqualification happened after Christopher Green, an associate of her opponent Brian Johnson, challenged her petition form because she didn’t specify her electoral area on one part of the form.

Janis argues that her electoral area was still clearly listed on a different area of the petition.

In response to the challenge, Assistant Superintendent Janak consulted with the Secretary of State’s office about the error and then later disqualified her.

Janis says she then counter challenged Johnson’s own petition over a similar error, but Janak chose to dismiss it without consulting with the Secretary of State’s office.

The lawsuit argues that had Janak gone to the Secretary of State he would have been told that if Janis was being disqualified, Johnson should be treated the same way.

Janak argues that he didn’t disqualify Johnson because the required information was on his petition form, just not in the right order.

The school board ended up voting 6-1 against settling the lawsuit.

Janis is now asking that the court either put Janis back on the ballot or take the ‘less favorable remedy’ and disqualify her opponent.

The court is being asked to resolve the case before the end of April in order to ensure that the lawsuit doesn’t interfere with the June 4 elections.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News