A school district in southeastern Los Angeles County is illegally diluting the voting clout of Latinos and barring them from elective office by using an at-large electoral system for school board races, according to a lawsuit filed this week.
No Latino has been elected to the seven-member board in the ABC Unified School District since 1997, although the ethnic group makes up nearly one-fourth of adults of voting age, according to the lawsuit filed by MALDEF, a leading Latino legal civil rights organization, and the Los Angeles law firm of Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho.
The district encompasses 30 schools in Artesia, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens and portions of Lakewood, Long Beach and Norwalk. Its students are 42% Latino, 26% Asian, 11% Filipino, 10% African American, 7% white and 1% native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
Under the at-large system, candidates can run from any part of the district and be selected by any voter. All seven current school board members reside in Cerritos; three are Asian, two white and two Filipinos. The lawsuit demands a change to a district electoral system, in which board members would be elected to represent particular areas.