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Leasure v. Beebe

Court of Chancery of Delaware, New Castle County

August 27, 1951

LEASURE et al.
v.
BEEBE et al.

Herman H. Leasure and another filed a complaint for injunction and declaratory judgment against Dr. James Beebe and others, members of and constituting the State Board of Education, Joseph H. McVey and others, members of and constituting the Board of Education of the Newark Special School District, and Ann Barczewski and others, members of and constituting the Board of School Trustees of Glasgow School District No. 56, seeking to invalidate a referendum election on question of consolidation of the Glasgow School District No. 56 with Newark Special School District. The Court of Chancery, Bramhall, Vice Chancellor, held that the evidence as to nonresidence of challenged voters within boundaries of Glasgow School District No. 56 was insufficient to overcome presumptions in favor of validity of election.

Validity of election upheld.

Where children residing on a particular farm had attended school in a particular school district for more than 40 years and a resident of farm had been a member of the board of school trustees of such district for 20 years, the board of school trustees, having acquiesced for so long a period of time in accepting such farm as a part of the district, would be estopped from claiming that the residents of such farm were not included in district.

Page 118

[32 Del.Ch. 211] Complaint for injunction and declaratory judgment by Herman H. Leasure and Monroe W. Bramble, plaintiffs, against Dr. James Beebe, et al., members of and constituting the State Board of Education, Joseph M. McVey, et al., members of and constituting the Board of Education of Newark Special School District, and Ann Barczewski, et al., members of and constituting the Board of School Trustees of Glasgow School District No. 56.

Defendants filed an answer to the complaint and the case was before the Court on final hearing.

Abraham Hoffman, Wilmington, for complainants.

H. Albert Young, Atty. Gen., and Louis J. Finger, Deputy Atty. Gen., for defendants.

BRAMHALL, Vice Chancellor.

Plaintiffs filed their complaint in this Court, alleging that on November 20, 1950, the State Board of Education requested the Board of School Trustees of Glasgow School District No. 56 to hold a referendum election in that district to determine whether or [32 Del.Ch. 212] not that district should consolidate with the Newark Special School District. Following this request, the Glasgow Board posted notices to the effect that said referendum election would be held on February 17, 1951. At said election the vote was 74 for consolidation and 69 against consolidation, or a majority of 5 votes for consolidation. However, 13 votes cast were challenged, 10 of which were based upon the contention of the challengers that the voters were not residents of the school district and therefore not entitled to vote. Defendants admitted the averments of the complaint with the exception that they denied that the 10 voters so challenged did not reside in the school district and that the State Board of Education arbitrarily and unlawfully declared that the qualified voters of the Glasgow District had voted in favor of the consolidation of the two school districts.

Plaintiffs have requested the Court to determine: first, that the action of the State Board of Education was arbitrary and unlawful; secondly, that the procedure followed by the State Board of Education and the two school districts was highly irregular and not in compliance with pertinent statutes; thirdly, that the defendants are estopped from denying the boundaries of the school district as furnished to the Glasgow Board of Trustees by the State Board of Education; and, lastly, that all of the 10 voters challenged were non-residents of the school district and therefore not entitled to vote at said election.

Defendants have requested the Court to determine: first, that the challenged voters were residents of the Glasgow District and therefore entitled to vote; secondly, that the action of the State Board of Education was in conformity with the Statute and not arbitrary and unlawful; thirdly, that this court does not have the power to review a determination made by the State Board of Education that such consolidation was practical and desirable; and, lastly, that this court cannot invalidate such an election in the absence of fraud or gross unfairness.

[32 Del.Ch. 213] Were the 10 challenged voters properly entitled to vote at this school election?

The challenged voters all resided on farms which were either a part of the school district, or contiguous thereto. These farms will be known as, first, the Laws farm; secondly, ...


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