In early 2010 the KHSD’s Board of Trustees voluntarily voted to approve a resolution to, beginning in 2012, convert the District from an “at large” voting district to a “by trustee area” voting district. The resolution also demonstrated the Board’s commitment to comply with the California and Federal Voting Rights Acts and to avoid any unnecessary litigation regarding “at large” voting. In mid-2011 trustee areas were established utilizing data from the 2010 U.S. Census.
The Board of Trustees reviewed the 2010 Census data, which revealed that the Kern High School District’s attendance boundaries included a total population of 596,351 people, 50.2% of which were Hispanic, 37.7% were non-Hispanic/White, 5.7% were Black/African American, and 6.4% were categorized as “other.”
However, when evaluating compliance with the California and Federal Voting Rights Acts, the total number of citizens of voting age population (or “CVAP”) is considered, not simply overall population numbers.
In 2010, Kern High School District’s attendance area was estimated to contain 30.7% Latino citizens of voting age or Latino CVAP. The Board selected a trustee area plan map that was designed in accordance with traditional redistricting principles, and included one Latino majority CVAP area (Trustee Area 2, at approximately 52% CVAP) of the five areas established. That plan was submitted to the Kern County Committee on School District Organization and approved.
Since 2011, Trustee Area Two has maintained its status as a majority Latino CVAP area, with currently approximately 60% of Area Two eligible voters being Latino. Further, since 2011 Trustee Area Three has developed into another majority Latino CVAP area at approximately 51% of Area Three eligible voters being Latino. Therefore, the Kern High School District currently has two majority Latino CVAP areas under its trustee area plan of 2011.
Since 2011 there have not been any requests to the Board to amend the 2011 trustee areas. In late 2017 as the Luna v. County of Kern voting rights litigation trial was coming to a close, the District received information that an unidentified group of people planned to sue KHSD over its current trustee areas. However, to date no litigation has been filed against the Kern High School District.
In light of the February 2018 ruling in the Luna v. County of Kern case the District’s Board of Trustees voluntarily directed District staff on March 2, 2018 to present the Board with a timeline, and all necessary resources, to evaluate its current trustee area plan and the currently existing two majority Latino CVAP areas. And, as reported in the regular board meeting on March 5, 2018, the Board unanimously adopted a timeline by which it will review and evaluate adjusting the District’s trustee boundaries and the currently-existing two majority Latino CVAP areas. The Board will also evaluate the current overall population data for each trustee area. During this process the Board will hold public hearings and welcome public input.
The Board of Trustees has proactively chosen to commence and complete this process so as to avoid any and all unnecessary lawsuits that would only serve to strip education funds from the students and staff of the District. The District has since learned that the Dolores Huerta Foundation has, for over three years, been examining the trustee areas with plans to sue the KHSD. KHSD was unaware of this until March 6, 2018 when it was reported in the media.
Although KHSD will be required to review and potentially adjust its trustee areas in 2021 after the 2020 Census data is released, the Board has chosen to engage in this process three years ahead of schedule in order to avoid the unnecessary expenditure of District dollars on attorney’s fees and law suits. The law provides the Board the opportunity to adjust its boundaries at any time without the need for any judicial intervention or costly litigation.
The Board welcomes the public to participate in this process as it moves forward.