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Sulphur Springs School District announces settlement in Voting Rights Act lawsuit

Posted: March 14, 2014 11:50 a.m.
Updated: March 14, 2014 11:50 a.m.

The Sulphur Springs School District board has reached a settlement agreement in the California Voting Rights Act lawsuit filed against it, the district’s superintendent said today.

“We have reached a settlement agreement and we’re still in the process of putting it writing,” said Superintendent Robert Nolet.

The agreement addresses the lawsuit’s claim that at-large elections in the Canyon Country school district dilute the Hispanic vote within the district.

Nolet said details of the agreement will likely be available for the public late Friday afternoon.

“Once we get it finalized, we’ll make it available,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clarita City Council announced it had reached a settlement agreement in another suit alleging Voting Rights Act violations due to an at-large election system. A third suit was filed against the Santa Clarita Community College District leveling the same allegation.

The city’s agreement proposes two separate efforts to make changes in city elections to deal with the lawsuit’s claim that at-large elections dilute the Hispanic vote.

The first plan calls for the city to approve an ordinance at some future meeting that would change the Santa Clarita City Council elections from every other year in April to every other year in November when statewide elections are held

The change would take effect in the 2016 elections.

All three lawsuits claim at-large elections — those in which all voters in a district elect all five members of a school district or city governing board — deprive Hispanic voters of equal representation. All three seek to force the government agencies into dividing their district among sub-districts and having voters elect just one representative from each district.

Several Santa Clarita Valley school districts and the Newhall County Water District sought to consolidate their elections with county-run balloting in a bid to avoid such lawsuits, which have been filed against municipalities up and down California. The county declined their bid, saying its outdated voting system limits the number of items it can place on a single election ballot.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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