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Second attorney threatens lawsuit over school elections in Dublin

DUBLIN — The school district this week was hit with a second letter from another attorney threatening to sue over school board elections.
Attorney Stuart Flashman sent a letter Wednesday on behalf of five Dublin residents who argue that the district’s use of the 2010 U.S. Census is outdated if the board decides to move forward with district elections and draw trustee boundaries.
Earlier this week, the school district announced it will hold a special meeting to decide if it wants pursue elections of its board members by district, or keep at-large elections as it has now.
First, Kevin Shenkman, who represents Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, sent the district a demand letter to urge them to switch to district elections. At-large elections often result in “vote dilution” or the impairment of minority groups to elect their preferred candidates, Shenkman said.
Shenkman claimed the district’s current elections system impairs Latinos from electing or running candidates of their choice. Latino’s make up 12 percent of the district students, Asians 48 percent and white 25 percent.
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Then Flashman followed up with his letter, saying if trustee elections are chosen, school officials need to use the most current Census date, not data from 2010.Flashman said Dublin has had so much growth in the last seven years, especially on the east side.
“If they use that (Census), then all those people magically disappear,” he said.
In his letter, Flashman said using old data would “result in an improper and unfair enlargement of the trustee areas for East Dublin, resulting in the under representation of East Dublin’s residents.”
One of the district’s biggest controversies is the construction of a second high school, and Flashman said people in east Dublin feel as if the school board has been stone-walling them.
Flashman represents residents, Margaret Liang, Stephen Beyer, Raja Prasanna, Dan Scannell and Jegadheesa Murugesan, who want to make sure an east Dublin representative has the best interests of the area in mind.
“They’re concerned that what’s going on here is gerrymandering,” Flashman said. “The feeling they have is that this isn’t accidental.”
Scannell, the only one among the five who does not live in east Dublin, said he does not see data that justifies the switch to district elections at all. He pointed out that the Dublin City Council uses the at-large system, yet in November voters elected a Latina, Melissa Hernandez.
“This just struck me as bad policy,” he said. “There’s a huge gap in the logic in his lawsuit.”
He worries that changing to district elections could still result in racial inequality, especially if using out-of-date data.
Michelle McDonald, spokeswoman for the school district, said the board hasn’t yet decided if it will opt for district elections. If they do, there will be a 90-day period for public comment on the district-drawing process.
“Should the board proceed with a transition by trustee-area election, we anticipate the board is going to look at up-to-date data that is legally permissible for us to factor into the process,” she said.
On Monday, when the school board takes up the matter, districts demographers are expected to speak about current enrollment data. Attorneys also are expected to be present to discuss what is admissible.

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