Castaic Union School District Moves To Cumulative Voting -- October 21, 2014

Castaic Union School District board members voted Thursday to use cumulative voting in their next election.

“We believe that we’re currently in compliance with the (California Voting Right Act), but because of the past schools’ litigation the best way to move forward is with cumulative voting,” said Castaic Union School District Board of Trustees Board President David Huffaker, “Individual districts would diminish the voting impact.”

Sulphur Springs School District officials, along with several other governing boards in the Santa Clarita Valley, have recently been involved in allegations of California Voting Rights Act violations.

The allegations claim at-large elections disenfranchise Hispanic voters in the Santa Clarita Valley by denying them a chance to elect their candidate of choice, due to racially polarized voting. In court documents, the party who sued three governing boards — the Santa Clarita Community College District, the Sulphur Springs School District and the city — claimed racially polarized voting exists by looking at how voters cast ballots in several previous elections.

Castaic Union School District board members all agreed to used cumulative voting and there was no public comment on the issue, Huffaker said.

Cumulative voting is a type of voting system that helps strengthen the ability of minority shareholders to elect a director, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website.

This method allows shareholders to cast multiple votes for a single nominee for the board of directors compared to regular voting where each shareholder has one vote to any single nominee.

All three parties are in various phases of settling the lawsuits alleging the district’s at-large elections violated the CVRA. No CVRA lawsuit has been successfully defended.

Huffaker added board members based their decision off a survey done about a year and half ago by all of the school districts in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The CUSD currently serves about 2,500 students in the Castaic area.

“Our direction to (Superintendent Jim Gibson) was to proceed to negotiate with city of Santa Clarita to run the election,” Huffaker said, and added that the elections may go to even-numbered years, which depends on the city of Santa Clarita.