The San Rafael City Schools (SRCS) Board of Education approved a
in March that indicates its intention to transition Board elections to by-trustee area elections. Board members are currently elected in "at-large" elections, where each member is elected by voters throughout the District. Under the new system, the Board members will be elected by-trustee-area; they will be required to live in the area they represent and will be elected only by the registered voters of that area.
At its meeting on April 15, the Board approved
National Demographics Corporation
(NDC) for demographic services pertaining to this process. Since 2002, NDC has established a reputation as the state's leading demographic expert on California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), having performed demographic assessments of potential CVRA liability and/or moves to by-district elections for over 350 jurisdictions. NDC recently performed these same demographic services for the City of San Rafael.
At the next Board meeting on April 30, 2019 at 6 pm in the SRCS Board Room at 310 Nova Albion Way, the Board will have an open session to review the upcoming community process. The meeting is open to the public. There will be discussion on topics such as:
- Why is SRCS transitioning to trustee area elections?
- What is the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA)?
- What is going to happen over the next several months and how can the community be involved?
- How will trustee areas be created?
- What does this change mean for all SRCS voters?
- And more!
The California Voting Rights Act's (CVRA) purpose is to ensure that the use of at-large elections does not prevent minority groups from electing candidates of their choice to the elected boards of local agencies. The CVRA allows an individual to file suit over an alleged violation, allows a successful challenger to recover their attorneys' fees from the agency and provides courts with broad authority to impose remedies to prevent the dilution of minority votes.
In February 2019, the District received a letter from the attorney Kevin Shenkman alleging that current District Board elections are in violation of the CVRA. The letter indicated that litigation may result if the District did not make a transition to by-trustee area elections and suggested the District would be liable for his fees if it did not make the transition. The Board's adoption of the resolution limits the fees that Mr. Shenkman may request once the Board completes the transition. The District's liability for any fees are subject to Mr. Shenkman making a request for a reasonable amount of fees incurred in sending the letter to the District.
The resolution approved by the Board also provides a general outline of the public process for developing the trustee area boundary map which would be used to implement by-trustee area elections. Note that the trustee area boundary map will include all voters in the San Rafael Elementary School District and San Rafael High School District boundaries; this process will not impact the elementary school attendance areas.
A subcommittee of the Board and the District are currently coordinating with National Demographics Corporation (NDC) to finalize the timeline, but there will be a minimum of five public hearings as part of the process, including two public hearings prior to the development of any draft maps. A tentative schedule is posted online at www.srcs.org/trustee-elections; it will be finalized at the May 13, 2019 Board meeting. To meet legal requirements, SRCS must complete the process by September 11, 2019. The new system would be in effect for the next SRCS Board of Education election in November 2020. Click here to view the resolution.