After DISD administrators clash over voting cards that some say are insufficient for Latinos, approval awaits
The nine-member Dallas school board has struggled to maintain a three-way balance between Latino, black and white administrators, even as new census data shows dramatic growth in Hispanics in the district.
The resentful redistribution process – spurred by the 2020 census – has led one director to describe the board as the most divided he has ever seen.
Despite that, in a meeting Thursday, the board appeared poised to agree on a new map that will influence who governs Texas’ second largest public school district over the next 10 years. Directors will vote on the proposal at a board meeting in mid-December and the new limits will take effect in time for the May 2022 director elections.
Not everyone was happy with which card was most likely to be approved.
The board failed to create three Latino, Black and White Opportunity Districts, administrator Joe Carreón said. An opportunity district is an area where a group of voters of one race or ethnicity has the opportunity to influence the outcome of an election.
“A Latino candidate will continue to have a tough challenge to be elected in District 7,” Carreón said.
Chairman of the Board, Ben Mackey, who is Caucasian, currently represents District 7, which includes part of Oak Cliff.
Administrator Justin Henry agreed with Carreón’s disappointment on the card. On the goal of maintaining the three-way division of the board, “I really think we haven’t achieved that particular goal,” said Henry.
Hispanic residents accounted for the largest increase in population – nearly half of the total Dallas ISD hump – in the past decade. Since 2010, the district has added nearly 41,000 Hispanic residents, 10,000 Asian residents and 21,000 white residents while losing about 4,000 black residents. The district’s population is approximately 26% Whites, 3% Asians, 22% Blacks, and 46% Latinos.
At the start of the redistribution process, DISD administrators agreed on several rules that would help guide the new cards, including keeping the holder in their district, keeping neighborhoods together, and maintaining ‘communities of’. interest ”. The probable new card keeps all cardholders in their districts.
Federal and state laws place further restrictions on the redrawn maps, such as ensuring that the largest and smallest districts are within 10% of the population of others.
But while the start of the redistribution process began with common goals, directors were frequently divided.
“I have never been as frustrated as I am currently on this forum for two and a half years,” Henry said at a November meeting on the cards.
One of the most painful points of the debate: how to maintain a fair board.
Several directors expressed a desire to maintain a “three-three-three” board, but disagreed on the numbers to consider.
For Latin opportunist districts, it is important to look at the number of citizens eligible to vote rather than the total number of people of voting age, argued several administrators. This is because the Latino community includes a large number of unauthorized immigrants who are not eligible to vote.
While the number of citizens able to vote and the number of people of voting age is a similar figure for white and black residents, this is not the case in Latin American communities, said administrator Edwin Flores. .
Data from the 2020 census show that while 41.5% of the DISD’s voting age population is Latino, only 25.9% of the district’s voting age population is Latino.
“For Hispanics, you have to watch the second issue,” Flores said in November. “And for Hispanics, that’s the big number.”
Several colleagues backed down, suggesting that the district had never relied heavily on that number to fashion maps.
The main card proposal highlights the disparity between these figures. In District 8, where Carreón is elected, about 61% of voting age residents are Hispanic, but 41% are citizens of voting age.
Administrator Joyce Foreman was the only administrator to say she would support a different card. The only change to Foreman’s choice occurred in his own district, where cartographers removed one of the boundaries to include Wilmer-Hutchins High School.
Foreman complained that other districts had more high schools than his. She concluded that it was fair to attract Wilmer-Hutchins to her district, where it was before the 2010 census.
But administrator Dustin Marshall responded, saying the number of high schools had never been part of the criteria for drawing the map.
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