LOS ANGELES – Adelanto Elementary School District board members voted earlier this week to switch from an at-large election system to a single-member system in response to a letter from MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) warning that the district was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).

In the letter, sent on March 27 to the board of trustees for Adelanto Elementary School District, MALDEF told the district that the at-large system dilutes Latino voting strength and prevents Latino voters from electing candidates of their choice.

U.S. Census figures show that Latinos comprise 46 percent of the citizen voting-age population in the Adelanto district. Yet, as MALDEF’s letter states, “currently there are no Latinos on the Board of Trustees and historically Latinos have been underrepresented on the Board of Trustees.”

“The enacted resolution is a critical step to achieving a board of trustees that reflects the views of all significant communities within the Adelanto district,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel.  “A representative board is essential not just to compliance with voting rights, but to success in addressing the significant education challenges in our state.”

Under the CVRA, local jurisdictions, including school districts, that show patterns of racially polarized voting that curtail a minority group’s ability to elect its preferred candidates must switch from an at-large election system, in which members are elected by all voters, to district-based elections where voters who live in each district elect the candidate of their choice from within the specific district.

The important resolution passed by the board this week is the beginning of a long process that includes drawing the lines for the new board of trustees election districts.  As it always does in response to an agreement to switch to district elections, MALDEF will remain involved to ensure that the adopted election districts provide an opportunity for candidates supported by the Latino community to be elected.

“We look forward to working with residents of Adelanto Elementary School District during the public hearings to inform the school district of how residents define their communities of interest,” said Tanya G. Pellegrini, MALDEF staff attorney.

Adelanto Elementary School District is located in San Bernardino County and is comprised of 13 elementary, K-7, K-8, and middle schools.

Read MALDEF’s letter.

Read the district’s enacted resolution here.