In March of 2017, PQE initiated a local San Diego initiative called “Community Voices for Education” (CVE) to bring accountability, transparency, and real representation in San Diego’s public education system so that every child receives a quality education.
CVE began its effort advocating for San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) School Board Election reform at the San Diego City Council. The council has no authority over SDUSD, but changes to school district elections require voters to amend the City Charter.
CVE asked the City Council numerous times to place a Ballot Initiative on the November 2018 Election to amend the City Charter for SDUSD Board Member Elections to:
a. Sub District Only Elections – follows City Council Elections.
b. Two (2) four (4) year term limits – follows all San Diego elected officials.
To date, City Councilmember majority voted to place three (3) four (4) year term limits on the November 2018 ballot and the same majority voting against placing Sub-District Only Elections on the November 2018 Ballot so the voters can decide. These two votes by the City Council were not what 60% of the citizens asked them to do.
In 2016/ 2017, the City of San Diego received enough complaints and concerns from the community regarding SDUSD board elections that they asked the San Diego Grand Jury to investigate the current election process for SDUSD trustees. The Grand Jury findings of May 2017 state that “sub-district elections alone would assure voters of each district would receive a fairer representation than an “at-large” election.” Council President Myrtle Cole agreed with those findings however she still voted against.
On July 23, 2018 Community Voices for Education sent a demand letter to City Council requesting they place District Only Elections for SDUSD on the November 2018 ballot by the August 6th deadline or face a lawsuit violating the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). The CVRA states at section 1407. “An at-large method of election may not be imposed or applied in a manner that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election, as a result of the dilution or abridgment of the rights and the privileges of members of a protected class.” The City Council did not respond to our request by the August 6, 2018 deadline.
Since its inception, the SDUSD has had a total of three (3) Latino and one (1) Asian trustee. The student population for SDUSD is 45% Hispanic and 30% African American, Asian, Chinese, Asian Pacific and multi-racial. As a result of the abridgment of voter rights, over 75% of the family populations currently in the SDUSD have been deprived of voter representation.
On behalf of all residents within the jurisdiction, CVE is proceeding with all available legal remedies to ensure the City Council and SDUSD comply with the California Voting Rights Act.
Please visit CVE website at http://communityvoicesforeduca