SD Unified Should Elect Members by District

The San Diego Unified School District has been considering changes to its election process.  The NAACP San Diego Branch gave them some input at the April 23rd Town Hall meeting at Mission Bay High School.

Based upon the recommendations of the San Diego County Grand Jury Report, and our research, it is the position of the San Diego NAACP, that it is indeed time for a change with regards to San Diego Unified School District Board elections. We concur that the San Diego Unified School District should transition from the current at-large election system to a by-district or by-trustee election system. In addition, we concur that there should be an increase in the number of seats for the board.

We find several reasons that the district should make this transition which include, but are not limited to, compliance with the California Voting Rights Act of 2001, the recommendations of the Grand Jury Report, and the fact that several districts in San Diego County, and throughout the State of California, have already made this transition.

As pointed out by the San Diego County Office of Education, “Adopting a by-trustee-area election system ensures that a district is compliant with the California Voting Rights Act.” School Districts within San Diego County, such as the Carlsbad Unified School District, and the Poway Unified School District, have already adopted this system. In addition, according to the National Demographics Corporation, 131 school districts in the state of California are changing to by-district elections, as a result of the California Voting Rights Act.

As for the size of the school board, as previously mentioned, it is our position that there should be an increase in the number of board seats. According to our research, there are several school districts throughout the state of California, which have fewer students than the San Diego Unified School District does, but have more board seats. These districts include, but are not limited to the Fresno Unified School District, which according to the California Department of Education is the fourth largest district in the state, has an enrollment of 73,460 students, and seven board seats, according to Ballotpedia; the San Francisco Unified School District, which according to the California Department of Education, has an enrollment of 58,865, and seven board seats, according to Ballotpedia; and the Capistrano Unified School District, which according to the California Department of Education, is the eighth largest district in California, has an enrollment of 53,878, and seven board seats, according to Ballotpedia.

Lastly, we would like to conclude by strongly urging the board to adopt the recommendations of the Grand Jury report, to ensure compliance with the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 by transitioning to a by-district or by-trustee election system, to establish term-limits, and to increase the number of board seats. Changes are already underway with regards to school board elections, and attempts to maintain the status quo, or to resist such changes, is not only unacceptable and counterproductive, it simply will not stop a tide, which has already begun to turn.

Thank you.


Dr André Branch
President
NAACP San Diego Branch