“A federal judge has denied the East Ramapo school district’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit demanding that the at-large voting method used to elect the school board be replaced with a geographic ward system.
Filed in November by a group of parents, the suit claims the at-large system has led to a lack of representation for minorities and seeks a system made up of nine single-member districts to be put in place.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit on behalf of parents, said U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel denied the district’s motion on April 13 and that the case will move forward.
“We will continue to work towards ensuring an equal opportunity for minorities to participate in the electoral process,” said Naomi Dann, an NYCLU spokeswoman.
The plaintiffs, including seven black or Latino voters, as well as the Spring Valley branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, claim East Ramapo is in violation of the Federal Voting Rights Act. Two of the plaintiffs — Chevon Dos Reis and Eric Goodwin — mounted unsuccessful school board campaigns last year.
A spokesperson for the school district could not be reached Tuesday morning.
The majority of school districts in New York use an at-large approach, which means voters can select any candidate in the district, though some places have slight variations to allow for a mix of members from wards and those picked at-large.
In East Ramapo, some 24,7000 children attend more than 140 private schools, mainly yeshivas. About 8,500 students, mostly black or Latino, are enrolled in the public schools.
The majority of seats on the school board are held by parents who send their children to private schools.
Despite a number of candidates from the minority community running for school board in recent years, not one has won a contested seat since 2007.”
Read the complete Journal News story here.