A group of Lexington-Richland 5 residents lost its bid to prevent a one-time board member from initiating legal challenges to decisions she opposed while on the school board.
The group’s effort ended when the S.C. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that it failed to show how its members were affected adversely by what former board member Kim Murphy did.
That decision overturned a 2-year-old ban stopping Murphy from launching challenges while she was a board member.
Both sides claimed victory after the ruling.
“They haven’t silenced me,” Murphy said Thursday.
The battle was part of an effort “to play hard ball against those who express dissenting views and muzzle people who ask too many questions,” she said.
Her lawyers, Jay Bender and Katie Parham, sounded a similar theme, saying in a statement that the attempt to limit Murphy’s ability to challenge projects is “another example of bullying by some members of the District 5 community.”
But Murphy’s critics said the temporary halt was “a win for the entire community” because it allowed all school improvements authorized by voters in 2008 to proceed without further interruption, said Bill Wolfe, chairman of the group known as D5 Citizens Ensuring the Implementation of the Referendum.
Lexington-Richland 5 officials also thanked the group, saying their actions “removed a significant barrier to making desperately needed infrastructure improvements,” school spokesman Mark Bounds said.
Members of the group were upset that Murphy’s efforts stalled $45.9 million in renovations at Chapin High, a project now under way after she lost other legal battles.
Murphy is free to resume questioning future improvements.
Other school board members ousted her earlier this year from a post as a Richland County member of the panel to which she was elected in November 2010, after questions arose about her residency.
Her removal came after state geographers said her home in the Chapin area is just inside Lexington County instead of Richland County as long thought.
Murphy, a Tea Party favorite, often was at odds with the other six board members on spending and management of schools that are home to 16,000 students in the Irmo, Chapin, Dutch Fork, Harbison and St. Andrews areas.
She is appealing the ouster.
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.