The ABC Unified School District serves students from a variety of Southern California cities, yet that rich geographic and demographic diversity is not reflected in the School Board due to the electoral system in place to elect its members.
The district is comprised of Artesia, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens and parts of Lakewood, Long Beach, Norwalk and La Mirada, however, the seven Board members all reside in Cerritos, which has the fewest Latinos of any of these respective cities.
The election for School Board members is done through an at-large electoral process instead of one based on geographically and demographically distributed zones within the district, which would be more representative of the population. Historically, this system has diluted the minority vote. In this case, 23% of those of voting age in the district are Latinos. Yet, one board member is a Latino.
That is why the Mexican American Education and Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) has joined forces to file suit against ABC Unified School District for violating the California Voting Rights Act. The region’s demographic diversity is completely missing on the School Board.
Elementary education needs parental participation to support children’s academic achievement. It is critical to integrate them into the educational process. An electoral system that dilutes the voice of Latino parents, as in the ABC School District, is a legal hurdle that must be overcome.