Hart district officials announced their intent to look at district-based elections for the junior high and high school district’s governing board Wednesday.
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The report out of a closed-door session announced the William S. Hart Union High School District would take steps toward the adoption of a new method of elections.
Hart district officials will draft a resolution for the board members’ review at their next board meeting July 18, according to a Hart district official.
“The consensus is, we will be looking to districts,” said Hart district board member Joe Messina. “This is the remedy prescribed by law.”
No other changes are being sought at this time, he added.
District-based elections would have a representative from each geographic area designated within a district’s boundaries, whereas at-large elections do not delineate a candidate’s geographic area of representation.
The move comes days after four Santa Clarita Valley school districts were sent letters dated June 14 threatening litigation if officials did not seek a remedy to an alleged violation of the California Voting Rights Act.
The Hart district was one of four receiving letters. The Newhall, Saugus Union and Castaic Union school districts all received similar letters regarding their at-large elections and alleged CVRA violations.
The Hart district, which oversees about 22,000 public junior high and high school students in the Santa Clarita Valley, received the letter sent Saturday on Thursday morning, according to Gail Pinsker, Hart district spokeswoman.
“It also appears that voting within the HSD is racially polarized, resulting in minority vote dilution, and therefore WHSD’s at-large elections are violative of the California Voting Rights Act,” according to a letter from Shenkman & Hughes.
The letter offered a July 2 deadline by which district officials were to let the lawfirm know whether it would voluntarily seek a discussion on a remedy for the claim.
Shenkman & Hughes is one of the firms representing the plaintiffs who recently sued three Santa Clarita Valley agencies.
The city of Santa Clarita, the Sulphur Springs School District and the Santa Clarita Community College Districts were served lawsuits last June alleging a similar violation.
All settled similar lawsuits to different ends.
No California Voting Rights Act lawsuit has been successfully defended, according to officials.
Palmdale recently chose to seek a state Supreme Court appeal of its thus-far unsuccessful fight against a CVRA lawsuit.
The city was ordered to pay $3.5 million earlier this month to settle a lawsuit over an alleged CVRA violation, which is also being litigated by Shenkman & Hughes.
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Source: Santa Clarita News