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Community disappointed by FUESD board

 

Last updated 2/1/2019 at 2:22pm



The California Voting Rights Act was enacted as part of the California constitution in 2003. This law deems it illegal to conduct at-large elections where it has been shown that certain populations have been unable to elect a member of their community as a representative on local governmental boards.

Fallbrook’s school districts’ boards of trustees, both the elementary and the high school, chose to ignore it for nearly two decades, resisting transitioning to by-area elections until they were threatened with a lawsuit for non-compliance in the summer of 2018.

With this threat came a short timeline for them to come into compliance. It has put undue pressure on our community to come together to make our wishes known about what these areas should look like in order to have the ability to elect a Latino to the school boards, which in Fallbrook is the protected class as defined by the CVRA.

But come together as a community we did. After seeing maps submitted by the demographers hired by the district, it was clear that the No. 1 priority in creating areas for elections was to protect the ability of the current board members to run more securely by granting them each their own district. See the districts’ website for the map.

The remedy to give the Latino community a chance to field a candidate as soon as possible, in this case in 2020, was never a first and foremost consideration as the CVRA calls for. With maps, adding machines, markers, the law, comments from others going through this transition and most importantly, members of the community, we went to work. We called and texted and talked to people all over Fallbrook.

We listened to what they had to say about what they considered their neighborhoods and how they felt about having a Latino sitting on those boards representing them. We packed the boardroom and community meeting room with parents and Fallbrook residents. We submitted our community map which met all the criteria for consideration.

Every person who spoke at the community “workshop” and at the public hearings supported the community map, aka the Favela/Ortiz/Stamos map, and were against what are referred to as maps 101, 102 and later joining the choices, map 103, primarily for the reason I stated earlier – they each give a trustee her own personal district so they wouldn’t have to run against each other and do not allow the Latino population to field their candidate in 2020.

There was not one community person who spoke up in favor of any other map beside the community map. Yet Jan. 24, the FUESD board voted 4-1 to accept such a disenfranchising map, map 103.

We are disappointed in the decision, and more so for the telling reasons the trustees gave for voting as they did. It’s important to note that the overarching purpose of the CVRA is to create a more democratic and representative government. The board failed in their responsibility to move that process forward. Shame on the four.

Leticia Maldonado Stamos

 

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