BAINBRIDGE --The North Putnam School Board has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for "depriving a woman" of her right to have her vote treated equally.
Brooke Cox, a voter in Floyd Township, contacted the ACLU to file the suit.
The North Putnam board is made up of seven members, one from each of the district's townships, and one at-large selection.
Voters living in a township are only eligible to vote for candidates from their own township.
The voters in Floyd Township, population 4,011, elect one member, just as the voters in Russell Township, population 823, elect one member.
The lawsuit argues that a voter in Russell therefore has around five times more power than a voter in Floyd.
Indiana law requires that when a school board chooses its members through this process, "the districts shall be reapportioned and their boundaries changed ... before the election next following the effective date of the subsequent decennial census."
Every 10 years, the school board was required to examine the population and divide it equally.
North Putnam is the only remaining local school district to use this type of voting.
South Putnam and Cloverdale use residential school board districts, which opens seats from each district to voters throughout the corporation.
Greencastle has an appointed school board.
Kelsey Kauffman, a university studies professor at DePauw, said in May that when her students researched the subject last year, they discovered that "the local district that is most maldistricted -- in the entire state of Indiana -- is North Putnam."
Kauffman sent an email to the Banner Graphic on Friday.
"North Putnam has known for months that they were required by law to redistrict," she wrote. "They missed the mandatory deadline last year, but still had time before this election to get the job done.
"South Putnam was also required to redistrict and they did so with little fuss or fanfare."
North Putnam received notice from the Indiana School Board Association in the fall of 2011, stating that "districts in Indiana by law are obligated to have their redistricting plans completed by December 31, 2011."
The school board had attorney Gene Hostetter begin researching ways to divide the district on April 25, and he returned with limited solutions on May 2.
At a special meeting on Tuesday, June 5, the board revisited discussions of redistricting.
Board attorney Hostetter said attempts to divide the voting districts more evenly could get no closer than 20 percent, which was well short of their goal of 10 percent.
With no changes being made, board vice president John Hayes said he wanted to make sure that the redistricting issue was not forgotten about.
There has been no mention of redistricting at any public meeting since and, when asked Friday if he knew of any discussion on the subject privately since then, Noel said "not to my knowledge."
The ACLU released a statement about the suit on Friday:
"The case challenges the school corporation's failure to maintain voting districts for school board positions that conform to the one-person, one-vote principles required by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the Constitution of Indiana."
The suit, Brooke Cox v. North Putnam Community School Corporation, was filed on Thursday.
"It was something that needed to be done, and this is the way to get it done," Cox said, stating that her hope is that North Putnam will begin to "follow what the law is saying and could all votes the same."
Cox said she has two children, ages 3 and 6, with the elder child attending school in the Greencastle corporation.
Four of the seven seats on the North Putnam school board are up for election next month -- Monroe Township, Russell Township, Franklin Township and the at-large seat.
Were the single-member districts divided equally by population, it is likely that Floyd Township would have at least three spots on the board, which might have been open during this election.
Cox, a librarian at DePauw, said she was made aware of the situation by Kauffman, who also put her in contact with the ACLU.
North Putnam's attorney failed to return a phone call prior to press time Friday night.