A contract entered into by the Beaumont Independent School District with HRE Inc. of Houston has been essentially voided by U.S. Judge Ron Clark, who entered a permanent injunction enjoining the district from doing any further construction work on the West Brook High School field house.
The order came after Judge Clark found BISD did not follow its own guidelines and competitive bidding laws by skipping over the No. 1 company assessed by its review committee to hire HRE, the No. 4 company.
Local attorney Mike Getz, along with attorney David Vann de Cordova, filed the case on behalf of their client L&L Construction of Beaumont on April 1. The board of trustees was served with the lawsuit the same day.
To remedy the problem, Getz said BISD will likely have to re-bid the project.
“This did not have to happen,” he said. “They could have and should have put this thing out for bid as soon as football season was over, but they didn’t. This thing was tabled twice in January, and at both times Parson’s was recommending L&L.
“This is only the first part of this case because we believe our client was passed over because of race, which is a violation of the equal protection clause, that states you can’t discriminate on the basis of race, period.”
Cordova said he believes the company overseeing the district’s $389 million bond initiative, Parson’s, and BISD conspired together to move HRE to the top of the list. One reason for that might have been because of an outburst by BISD board president Woodrow Reece relating to the ethnicity of contractors in BISD.In January, Reece threatened to fire Parsons for not hiring “black folk.”
“You have a board that feels uncomfortable with what going on. You know? Parson’s, yeah we hired them but the same way you hire, you fire,” Reece said.According to the judge’s ruling, HRE Inc. is allowed to secure the site and remove its property but cannot do any more work.
BISD’s attorney Melody Chappell told local media outlets the board selected HRE because it knew its background and because HE was the lowest bidder.HRE’s history with BISD was sketchy, with Parson’s stating HRE had stopped work on a project and not followed program guidelines, which unnecessarily cost BISD taxpayers money.
“Notwithstanding the above, BISD and HRE may, without violating this injunction, take action to secure the job site and remove any construction equipment therefrom, and BISD may take such actions as are necessary, and in accordance with state law, to award a proper and lawful contract,” Clark wrote in his ruling.