IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – An all-white elected school board in Irving voted Thursday to change the election process to give minorities a better chance of serving on the school board.
“There should be no fear. Giving an equal opportunity to all of our community members is the right, just, loving and honorable decision,” said board member Valerie Jones.
Trustees voted to establish five single-member districts, while setting aside two spots for at-large candidates. Single-member districts mean that candidates need only compete for votes in the district they’re running in.
Roughly 85% of students in the Irving school system are minorities. Board members believe that by dividing up districts, it will encourage minority candidates to run in minority districts.
“It saddens me now to come and know that there are no other ideas floating around and no other cultures at our meetings,” said board vice president Ronda Huffstetler.
Currently, Irving school board elections are at-large; meaning that candidates compete for voters throughout the entire city.
Dr. Steve Jones is the only trustee who voted against slicing up districts. Dr. Jones argued that at-large elections give voters a say on the entire school board. “I just don’t think it’s smart for us to limit our candidate pool. I want to have as open a candidate pool as we can.”
Several minorities in the crowd were outraged by the vote. They wanted seven single-member districts instead of five with two at-large seats.
“We’re going to use every means necessary to get their attention. If they don’t go to 7-0, we’re suing them and we’re calling for the kids to disrupt classes,” said Anthony Bond with the Irving NAACP.
A spokesman for Irving ISD says there is no guarantee that the new system will be ready for the May election.
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