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Dublin Unified School District Exploring Change to How Trustees are Elected

July 18, 2017

DUBLIN, CA–The Dublin Unified School District just announced a potential change to how Board of Trustees are elected, moving form at-large elections to a trustee-area model. The goal would be to ensure more diverse representation on the Board. Below is the press release received from DUSD:

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The Dublin Unified Board of Trustees is exploring options for a potential transition into a new system for electing governing board members.

The District is responding to a letter from Kevin Shenkman, an attorney with the law firm of Shenkman & Hughes in Malibu, California. Mr. Shenkman, who is representing the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, is requesting the Board act to make a significant change to the Trustee election process from at-large elections to a trustee-area model.

Dublin Unified currently elects candidates through the “at-large” process, an election method that permits voters of an entire jurisdiction, in this case, the city of Dublin, to elect candidates to each open seat. The Board is exploring the appropriateness of an alternative system, a “by-trustee-area” model in which the school district is physically divided into separate trustee-areas, each with one school board trustee, who resides in the trustee-area and is chosen by the electors residing in that particular area. The intent of a “by-trustee-area” system is to provide greater opportunity for diverse Board representation among candidates that might not be elected in an at-large system.

Cities and school districts throughout the state have been facing legal challenges to “at-large” systems. More than 140 school districts in the state of California have switched from at-large systems to the “by-trustee-area” model since the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) was passed in 2001.

The Board, in collaboration with legal counsel who has worked with districts around the state on this issue, is reviewing the request. The Board will gather information and act in the best interest of the school community.

A special Board meeting will be held on Monday, July 24 at 6:30 p.m. Legal counsel will outline the options, the Board will hear public comment and after weighing all options and its legal obligations, the Board will make a decision on this matter.

The timing of the special meeting is required by law. On September 28, 2016, the Governor signed AB 350 into law, which attempts to provide a “safe harbor” from CVRA for school governing boards. If a Board receives a demand letter, such as in Dublin’s case, the District is given 45 days of protection from litigation to assess its situation. If within that 45 days, a Board adopts a resolution declaring the District’s intent to transition from “at-large” to “by-trustee-area” elections, outlines specific steps to be undertaken to facilitate the transition and estimates a time frame for action, then a potential challenger is prohibited from filing a CVRA action for an additional 90-day period. During this 90-day period, the District holds a series of public hearings and community meetings prior to finalizing its decision.

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2 Comments
  1. July 18, 2017 1:54 pm

    Moving to area election with 2010 census data doesn’t reflect an accurate representation of Dublin demographics. Dublin has grown significantly in the last 7 years and the latest census data compiled in 2016 has 29% increase as one can see from here
    https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/dublincitycalifornia,CA/PST045216
    Almost all of this 29% is east of Arnold and drawing a district area based on 2010 data is plain simply incorrect.
    Using an incorrect data is not the right representation of the community.
    If we can use the right data for taxation why not for representation?
    Fremont faced the law suit from the same firm and they are approaching it to include the latest data even though they took the 2010 census as the basis.
    All the relevant information is available here :
    https://fremont.gov/districtelections
    https://fremont.gov/DocumentCenter/View/33374

  2. Manas permalink
    July 18, 2017 6:08 pm

    Adopting California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), may be a good thing, but it needs to be done with the right intent. As the data indicates, Dublin has grown 30% in the last 7 years (from a population of 46000 in year 2010 to 62000 in 2017), and all those new tax payers will lose representation, if the latest census data of 2017 is not used. DUSD should use the services of a demographer before drawing boundaries, so that it accurately presents today’s picture. At the same time, the Community should be invited to be involved in the proposal to decide on the boundaries. The process should be transparent and the Trustees should not decide for themselves, else it will look like a ‘conflict of interest’.
    There are new schools such as Kolb, Amador and Cottoncreek are opened after year 2010.
    If recent and accurate data is not used, then the DUSD may be subjected to further law-suits.
    As given by Jega above, Fremont city has gone through the same process and they have extensive public hearing and used the recent demography for drawing their boundary.
    Here is the 2016 data available in the Dublin city website:
    http://www.dublin.ca.gov/1811/Demographics
    Also, there should be “term-limit” set for the DUSD trustees, as we are a growing population with diverse ethnicity, The new election method by ‘trustee-area’ should represent the best interest of all the community.

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