8 Investigates: MCSB race calls qualification laws into question

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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - A few weeks ago KNOE got a tip that one of the candidates in the District Four race for Monroe City School Board may not be living in that district.

Courtesy: KNOE 8 News

After that viewer tip, KNOE looked at District Four, the area surrounding Carroll High School. The two candidates are Don Hopkins and the incumbent Daryll Berry.

From there, KNOE checked in with the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office. That website lists every candidate's name, address and phone number, all of which must be submitted to qualify for elections.

The qualification deadline was July 20th, 2018.

Hopkins' address is listed on Chester Street, right around the corner from Carroll High School. Berry's is listed on Harvey Street, on the other side of US Hwy 165. Both of those addresses are in District Four. But the questions is do they live there?

So, we went by.

KNOE started at Berry's address. He met us at the front door. We then went to Hopkins' address. We were met with chains on the front gate.

A next-door neighbor told us Hopkins' mother-in-law is the one who lives at that home, and she had not been there for quite some time.

We kept digging by checking the Ouachita Parish Tax Assessor's website, which includes who owns what property in the parish. Berry's home is owned by Siretha Williams, his wife. Hopkins' home is owned by Frances Jenkins, his mother-in-law. Jenkins' name is also on a lease signed in 2011 at 1001 McKeen Place, at the Shadow wood Apartments.

that complex is in District Three, not District Four.

We knocked on the door to see if he lived there. his wife answered the door, and told us Hopkins was at work, but does stay at that apartment.

So, if Hopkins is living here, is that a problem?

In short, no.

After spending hours on the phone with the Secretary of State's Office, the Registrar of Voters and the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court, we found out that in order to qualify for a school board seat, the candidate must be a Louisiana resident for the past two years, and live in the district he or she is running for for the past year.

But, the day after qualification ends, the candidate can move out of the district. However, if a candidate knowingly lists the wrong address on his or her qualification paperwork, hey can face a $500 fine or a up to a year in jail.

There's a catch though. Candidacy has to be challenged within seven days.

As of now, KNOE does not know if Hopkins lived on Chester St. for the past year, and as of Monday, he legally doesn't have to be living there, or in District Four, to run for this seat.

We finally caught up with Hopkins on Saturday at a campaign event. We asked him where he lived?

"District Four," he said.

We asked where he spends most of his time.

"District Four," he said.

Later in the interview, we asked him, percentage-wise, where he spends a majority of his time.

"I'd say 55-45 or maybe 60-40 in District Three."

I asked him to clarify where he spends a majority of his time.

"District Three," he said.

We also asked why there were chains on the front gate at the Chester St. address?

"We've got to secure the place when I'm not there," he said. "I work at night, as you know."

Lastly, we asked why he wanted to run for the Monroe City School Board.

"I've had issues with the school board for years," he said. "But I knew that I couldn't devote the time that it needs. Now that I'm retired, I have the time to do so."