With Anaheim Union High School District officials prepared tonight to issue a formal request to state officials for a waiver to institute new maps designed to create more racially balanced district board elections, activists are calling for a delay and demanding more information about polarized voting.
While Anaheim City Council members have been locked in a prolonged court battle over establishing residency-based election districts, school board members seem to be willing to adopt it.
However, the battle lines at AUHSD are being drawn over what kinds of district lines — and election districts — would be created.
To date, activists with the League of United Latin American Citizens or LULAC and Los Amigos of Orange County have been unsuccessfully pushing the district to release the results of racially polarized voting trends from local precincts.
With district board members poised tonight to consider adopting the new system, activists are calling on them to slow down.
“They need to make it clear where there are polarized voting patterns,” said longtime Orange County LULAC leader Arturo Montez. “If you study where the polarization occurs, you can draft a good map.”
As it stands, Montez said, the cities of Cypress and La Palma have dominance over the school district’s board composition and affairs.
And for the first time, Montez said, the results of a decade of testing established by the No Child Left Behind Act can offer real insights on how such racially polarized voting translates into school achievement.
And the results aren’t pretty, Montez argued.
Cities in the district with the highest Latino concentrations — Stanton, Anaheim and Buena Park — also have the lowest incomes. And the worst test scores, Montez noted.
At Thursday's meeting, board members will hold a public hearing on a proposed general waiver request seeking a waiver from the State Board of Education “of the requirement that the establishment of Trustee Areas and adoption of a By-Trustee Area election process be submitted to the electors as set forth in Education Code Section 5020, and portions of Education Code Sections 5019, 5021, 5030.”
Montez argues that the district isn’t ready, saying it has been evasive in terms of sharing voting block numbers and added that the district’s process had not been inclusive.
Montez last month threatened to file a lawsuit if they moved to adopt election lines that don’t result in more Latino representation.
“We have sufficient parents to support us in this action and any action regarding inequities in the process,” Montez said.
Consultants for the board largely echoed, albeit in a more neutral fashion, Montez’s point.
According to federal law, board members have to create a Latino-majority voting district in the district if they can, according to the consultants.
The district's student population is 64 percent Latino, 16 percent Asian and Pacific Islander and 12 percent white.
The debate is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the district’s headquarters.