New Haven Unified School District

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Board Briefs for Tuesday, March 30, 2019

Board Briefs for Tuesday, April 30, 2019

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Board approved Dr. John Thompson as the District’s new Superintendent effective July 1.  Dr. Thompson is most recently from San Leandro Unified where he served for nine years as that district’s Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services.  Before joining San Leandro Unified, Dr. Thompson served in a number of leadership roles in the South San Francisco Unified School District. Welcome, Dr. Thompson!

The Board heard a presentation from Peter Fagen, of Fagen, Friedman, and Fulfrost LLP, who shared information regarding the California Voting Rights Act or CVRA.  The CVRA prohibits the use of “at-large” elections when such an election system “impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election”.  An “at-large” election refers to elections where individuals are elected to represent the whole of a city, state or district. New Haven Unified elects its school board members through an at-large election process.  Mr. Fagen explained that if at-large elections prevent a “protected class” of citizens to elect a representative member, then the system is prohibited. One way to address the challenges of an at-large election is to move to an election by “trustee area” which means that a district would be divided into individual areas where registered members of those areas can elect their own representative.

New Haven Unified was recently informed that our current at-large election process was preventing a protected class of citizens from electing a representative to the school board and that the district must move to a “by-trustee area” election system.  Mr. Fagen shared that cities and school districts throughout the state were all being served with similar notices. He went on to explain that government agencies (cities and school districts) who have gone on to fight these notices in court were losing routinely and were obligated to pay not only their own attorneys’ costs but those of the organization that were demanding the change in the legal system.  Mr. Fagen went on to give examples of government agencies that had fought, lost, and the millions of dollars that they were being forced to pay.

Mr. Fagen went on to explain the process and timeline for moving from an at-large election to a by-trustee area election system.  The Board voted to begin the transition to a by-trustee area election system beginning with the 2020 Governing Board Election. Mr. Fagen’s presentation can be found here.

The agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting can be found here.  

The Board will hold their regularly scheduled meetings on the first and third Tuesday of the month. Please see the list of dates below:

May 21, 2019

June 4, 2019

June 18, 2019