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Breaking News: ABC Unified School Board Ends At-Large Voting Elections

ABC Unified School District

ABC Unified School District (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Brian Hews

In a stunning announcement, the ABC Unified School District Board of Education confirmed on Tuesday night that it has settled a civil rights law suit that will end at large voting for trustee elections beginning in 2015.

The decision will now break up the school district into seven different voting districts where board members will be selected in smaller, more compact districts.

This decision ensures that voters in Artesia, Lakewood, and Norwalk will be able to have equitable representation on the influential school board that has traditionally be dominated by members who reside in the City of Cerritos.

Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper has learned that the vote to accept the settlement was 5-2 with school board members Sophia Tse and Lynda Johnson opposing the deal.  School Board members Celia Spitzer, Olympia Chen, Armin Reyes, Maynard Law, and James Kang supported the settlement.

It was also announced that the school district will cover more than $143,000 in attorney fees that have been accumulated during the past two years, primarily racked up by a Northern California law firm who was retained by a group of local residents who sought to have the district’s longstanding at-large voting practices abolished.

John Paul Drayer, who is an elected member of the Cerritos College Board of Trustees, told Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper in an interview on Tuesday night that he was “excited that the settlement was reached and now smaller district elections will now become a reality.”

Drayer said that he ABC School Board will now “have representatives from the entire district, not from just one city within the district.”

“This decision gives candidates in Hawaiian Gardens, Artesia, Lakewood and Norwalk the opportunity to finally get a voice on the school board,” Drayer said.

“This law firm sues school districts up and down the state. That settlement cost taxpayers more than $140,000.  This is a shame,” said Richard Hathaway, a longtime member of the ABC Federation of Teachers.  Hathaway made his comments during the school board meeting.

More details to follow.

 

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