SF Board of Education to Initiate Transition from At-Large to By-Trustee Area Elections

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Press Release

San Francisco (February 6, 2024) - San Francisco Board of Education President Lainie Motamedi announced today that the Board of Education will introduce a resolution at its Feb. 13, 2024 Regular Meeting affirming the Board’s intent to transition from at-large to by-trustee area elections.

Commissioners of the Board of Education are currently elected at-large, meaning that each commissioner is elected by voters of the entire San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). San Francisco is both a city and a county; therefore, SFUSD administers both the school district and the San Francisco County Office of Education (COE). This makes SFUSD a “single district county.”

The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) of 2001 “prohibits the use of an at-large election in a political subdivision if it would impair the ability of a protected class, as defined, to elect candidates of its choice or otherwise influence the outcome of an election.” Under the CVRA, at-large elections may be challenged if those elections result in racially polarized voting and vote dilution. 

“The Board of Education has received notice that our current citywide at-large elections may be challenged,” Board President Motamedi said. “While we believe our elections are in compliance with the intent of the law, we value fair and just elections and do not wish to engage in a costly lawsuit on this matter. The Board of Education’s focus will continue to be on ensuring educational excellence for our students and a sustainable future for the District.”

Commissioners are elected in even-numbered years and serve staggered, four-year terms. The next election for four commissioner seats is scheduled for November 2024, and the election for the other three commissioner seats is scheduled for November 2026. The adoption of by-trustee area elections will not affect the terms of any commissioners serving or elected during this transition, each of whom will serve out their term.

Pending passage of this resolution, SFUSD will engage a demographer to begin a public hearing process to gather community input regarding potential trustee area boundaries pursuant to Elections Code section 10010. Trustee area boundary lines would be developed based on the most updated federal decennial census data.

The resolution will be posted to SFUSD Board Docs by 5:00 pm Friday, Feb. 9.