BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A Kern High School District trustee says the board voted unanimously Monday to begin the process of redrawing voting districts.
Trustee Jeff Flores told Eyewitness News that the district lines will be examined to "avoid costly litigation and better serve our students.”
The district laid out a timeline Tuesday afternoon that gives the board until May to adopt new voting districts. The process will include numerous public hearings.
The Dolores Huerta Foundation had planned to file a lawsuit against the KHSD, accusing it of gerrymandering and suppressing Latino representation. The district's student population is roughly two-thirds Hispanic and the foundation says the proportion of Hispanic decision-makers should be similar.
Gerald Cantu, who oversees education policy at the foundation, said Tuesday they are pleased the district agreed to make changes.
"We figured they were going to fight tooth and nail," he said. "But we are very delighted they did the right thing."
Flores, a Hispanic, dismissed the gerrymandering claims, noting that two of the five districts are comprised of mostly minority voters and that the board has an extensive history of minority trustees.
Trustee Mike Williams issued a statement about the vote on Facebook Tuesday, saying that the foundation's efforts are more about electing Democrats than they are about electing Latinos.
"Let's be honest here. Dolores Huerta wanted to sue the district because she and her folks couldn't get their candidate elected," he wrote.
Asked about the possibility of an ideological shift on the board, Flores downplayed the idea of a major political swing, noting that he believes not all Latinos think and vote the same way.
In a similar case, a federal judge recently ruled in favor of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund in a lawsuit against Kern County that claimed the supervisors' districts are drawn in a way to dilute the Latino vote.