CVRA By-Trustee Area Election
Update - April 16, 2021
Board Approves Settlement Agreement with Shenkman & Hughes
The Board of Trustees reported that on April 1, the full Board in closed session unanimously approved a settlement agreement with the law firm of Shenkman & Hughes regarding the District’s transition to by-trustee area elections. Shenkman & Hughes has since also approved that settlement agreement. Under the agreement, the District commits to make the transition to by-trustee areas by the 2022 Board election, and to pay Shenkman & Hughes a total of $27,000
Update - February 26, 2021
Board of Trustees Adopts Resolution
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to adopt the resolution to declare the intent to transition from at-large to by-trustee area Board elections at their February 25 meeting. The presentation can be viewed here.
Update - February 22, 2021
Board of Trustees to Consider Resolution for By-Trustee Area Board Elections at February 25 meeting
The San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees is currently elected under an “at-large” election system, where trustees are elected by voters of the entire District. In January 2021, the District received a demand letter from a law firm, asserting that the District’s current at-large elections violate the California Voting Rights Act (Elec. Code, § 14025, et seq.) (“CVRA”), and demanding that the District change its method of election. Under the CVRA, at-large elections are impermissible if they result in racially polarized voting. Racially polarized voting is defined as “voting in which there is a difference in the choice of candidates or other electoral choices that are preferred by voters in a protected class, and in the choice of candidates and electoral choices that are preferred by voters in the rest of the electorate.” (Elec. Code, § 14026, subd. (e).) The only election system that provides the District complete protection from a CVRA claim is a “by-trustee area” election system. In a by-trustee area election system, each trustee must reside within the designated trustee area boundary, and is elected only by the voters in that trustee area.
When a District receives this type of demand letter, the District is given 45 days to demonstrate its intent to transition to by-trustee area elections. If the District does not adopt a resolution signaling its intent to transition from at-large to by-trustee area Board elections within this 45 day “safe harbor window,” the law firm, or any other plaintiff, may file a lawsuit against the District under the CVRA.
The Board will review its current Board election system and consider adopting a resolution declaring the intent to transition from at-large to by-trustee area Board elections at the February 25 meeting.
Please see the full meeting agenda and information on how to join the meeting and comment.