Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Face of Local School Boards Could Be Remade

When a group of citizens in Chula Vista tried not long ago to divide the district into geographic areas, the Chula Vista Elementary school board actually paid tax dollars to hire a lawyer to fight the plan. This startled me because I didn't think elected officials were allowed to use public resources for political purposes. Then the San Diego County Office of Education stepped in and nixed the idea. Apparently SDCOE is now worried (as well it should be) that it might have made CVESD and Sweetwater districts vulnerable to lawsuits.

See all posts on CVESD trustee areas.

The Face of Local School Boards Could Be Remade

Voice of San Diego
May 5, 2010

School districts in San Diego County are eyeing legal threats across the state as cautionary tales that could prompt big changes in the way school boards are elected, spurring them to pick leaders from specific areas rather than the district as a whole.

The threats have already generated buzz at the San Diego County Office of Education, which hosted a meeting in April with school district officials from across the region to talk about whether local school systems could be vulnerable to similar, potentially costly suits.

A case last year in Madera, a small city northwest of Fresno, argued that Latino voters were drowned out and disadvantaged by citywide elections there, which put all candidates up before all voters. Such elections can put governments in hot water under the California Voting Rights Act if challengers can prove that there are clear racial patterns in voting that drown out distinct groups.

Advocates say that if more school boards follow Madera and change their ways, they have a better chance of becoming as racially diverse as the cities they cover.

"You're going to see the face of school boards literally changed," said Robert Rubin, an attorney whose San Francisco firm brought the case...

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