On October 17, the Sweetwater Union High School District board voted 3-2 to move forward on electing trustees by area. Over the protest of teachers, parents, and ex-students, the board chose to seek from the state board of education a waiver that might allow for public meetings in lieu of a public vote.
Sweetwater trustees are elected as at-large members. However, following legal consultation, interim superintendent Ed Brand expressed concern that under the current at-large election process, the district might be exposed to litigation.
Though many speakers during the public communication segment of the meeting favored the concept of redistricting, all of them opposed the motion to divide up the district for the 2012 election. Speakers called the action “political” and urged the board to put it on the scheduled ballot and “let the people decide.”
The board has rejected calls for district elections in the past. Speakers pointed out that drawing up districts now would impact two outspoken boardmembers — Bertha López and Pearl Quiñones, who are up for reelection in 2012.
Stewart Payne, a parent and one of the activists who was instrumental in ousting former superintendent Jesus Gandara, said, “I’m for it [redistricting], but not for the way you’re doing it. The public needs to vote on this. You’re telling the people that you want to get rid of Ms. Quiñones and Ms. López.”
Pictured: Bertha López, Pearl Quiñones