SF Board of Education Approves Resolution to Address Potential California Voting Rights Act Concerns

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San Francisco (February 14, 2024) - The San Francisco Board of Education approved a resolution at its regular meeting Tuesday, affirming the Board’s intent to review and address potential California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) concerns. 

Commissioners of the Board of Education are currently elected at-large, in what is also known as a city-wide election. Such an election means that Board members may reside anywhere in the City and County of San Francisco and any individual registered to vote in the City and County of San Francisco may vote for any individual named on the ballot running for a seat on the Board of Education.

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 approved amendments to its original resolution Tuesday. The amended resolution referenced the recent California Supreme Court ruling, Pico Neighborhood Association v. City of Santa Monica, that clarified that by-trustee elections are not the only remedy to cure a potential CVRA violation. 

“This is a critical time for SFUSD, and our Board must remain focused on ensuring educational excellence for our students and a sustainable future for the district,” Board of Education President Lainie Motamedi said. “The Board is committed to ensuring fair and just elections. Last night we took the first step to explore and implement any needed changes to ensure full compliance with the CVRA and all relevant laws and court decisions.” 

SFUSD’s next steps are to determine if the current at-large election system violates the CVRA and, if so, the appropriate methods to address it. 

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 or another legal method that was specifically named in the Supreme Court’s Pico decision will not affect the terms of any commissioners currently serving.

Read the resolution here.