The San Dieguito Union High School District has begun the process of changing the method in which its trustees are elected.
At a Sept. 27 special meeting, the board passed a resolution to transition from an “at large” election system to a “by-trustee area” election system — meaning the district will divide into separate trustee areas and one governing board member will be elected by the registered voters in that area rather than the community at-large.
The new district map would be effective for the 2018 election.
In 2002, the California legislature enacted the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) which prohibits the use of at-large elections of governing board members if it “impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election.”
Under CVRA, the only way a school district can protect itself from potential CVRA litigation is to divide into the “by-trustee area” system — in recent years school districts and cities have been targeted by law firms for violations of the CVRA.
In the case of Jauregui v. City of Palmdale, plantiffs argued that the city’s at-large method of election resulted in vote dilution for Latino and African American residents. A 2013 trial determined that the at-large method violated CVRA and the city settled for over $4.5 million plus interest and spent over $1.5 million in attorney fees.
SDUHSD Superintendent Eric Dill encouraged the community to be involved in the process as the district creates map options for the new trustee boundaries.
Two public hearings will be held prior to the creation of maps to take in public comment. The first will be held at the board’s regular board meeting on Thursday, Oct. 12, 6:30 p.m. at the district office and a second will be a special board meeting on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. at the district office.
After the map options are created there will be three public hearings throughout November. The board will vote on the area boundaries after the third public hearing, at the regular board meeting on Dec. 14.
Once created, proposed maps will be posted on the district’s website at cvra.sduhsd.net.