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San Joaquin County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Measure H
Proposal to Change the Method of Electing School District Trustees
Ripon Unified School District

Majority Approval Required

Pass: 2486 / 53.89% Yes votes ...... 2127 / 46.11% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 24 11:48am, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (21/21)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

For the election of one member of the governing board of the Manteca Unified School District residing in each trustee area elected by the registered voters in that trustee area.

Impartial Analysis from San Joaquin County Counsel

Ripon Unified School District Trustee Area Measure

The Ripon Unified School District (the "District") is currently governed by a five-person Board of Trustees whose members reside in one of five geographical regions, or "trustee areas," within the boundaries of the entire District. Each governing Board member, or "trustee," must reside in the trustee area that he or she represents, but he or she is elected "at large" by all of the registered voters residing within the entire District.

If approved, Measure H would change this current system of electing trustees "at large" to a system of electing trustees "by trustee area." Under this "by trustee area" method of election, a trustee would be required to reside in the trustee area that he or she represents, and he or she would e elected only by the registered voters residing within the particular trustee area.

A "Yes" vote on Measure H would change the manner in which District trustees are elected to a "by trustee area" system.

A "No" vote on Measure H would maintain the current manner in which District trustees are elected, an "at large" system.

Passage of Measure H requires approval by a majority of the voters voting thereon.

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Arguments For Measure H Arguments Against Measure H
The supporting argument is adopted out of concern of potential litigation under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) resulting from potentially under-represented minority voters and the large financial risk that comes with a CVRA lawsuit.

2010 U.S. Census figures indicate that students of Hispanic descent are the largest subgroup in the Ripon Unified School District population, yet there is no Hispanic representation on the current school board.

Careful consideration is needed in order to reduce any potential liability under the CVRA due to the exposure to attorneys' fees, costs of dealing with a lawsuit, and potential negative press from the lawsuit being filed. There have been 21 CVRA cases filed since 2003 and 16 CVRA cases were favorably settled or won by plaintiffs. There are four cases pending. More than 118 school districts in California have either sought to waive an election to impose the change or have converted voluntarily from at-large to by-trustee area election systems due to concerns regarding potential violation of CVRA.

The City of Modesto paid $3 million in plaintiff's legal fees and $1.7 million to its own lawyers. The Hanford Joint Union School District paid $110,000 in plaintiff's legal fees plus its own legal fees. Madera Unified School District paid plaintiff fees of $162,500 Plus its own legal team fees. Tulare Regional Medical Center paid a $500,000 settlement to plaintiffs along with its own legal fees. The City of Anaheim has spent $800,000 on its legal defense to date.

A transition to a by-trustee area election process does not change the fact that Ripon Unified School District is still one district with common goals and challenges.

Do the taxpayers in Ripon hae the cash to fight for a potentially unfair system?

Mark A. Thiel, President; Janet D. Dyk, Vice-President; David J. Sorgent, Board Member; Vernon J. Gebhardt, Board member; Peter J. Ottesen, Board Member

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The argument of those who favor Measure H indicates that the action taken by the County Committee on School District Organization is"out of concern of potential litigation under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA)". That is true, but the fact is, the SJ County Committee was slow to act in implementing court decisions,federal and state law.

When little action was taken by the County Committee in 20-11-12 to address the reapportionment of trustee areas, or provide guidance to school boards on how to address California law that allows communities to choose 1 of 3 methods of electing school board members and the CVRA, the Ripon School Board acted in a more timely, good-faith manner.

The Board reviewed the reapportionment process, met with our attorney's, held several public meetings to gather citizen input as to the desired method of election, and selected other criteria that would best represent all citizens and groups in the Ripon USD. There was no request by a single person to change our existing method of election. When we presented a completed plan, the County Committee voted on unilaterally to change our method of election. We objected. Claiming that a significant change such as this warranted a vote of the people.

We challenged the County Committee's action and went to the State Board of Education to secure the right of citizens to decide the method of election that meets our needs. What will work best for all persons of our community? The choice is yours.

Christine Orlando, Donna Parks, Christopher L. Oase, Ernest A. Tyhurst, Mike Fisher,

This ballot measure was adopted by the County Board of Education, acting as the County Committee on School District Organization, out of concern that a potential lawsuit under the California Voting Rights Act might result from potentially under-represented minority voters.

By voting "No" on Measure H you continue the existing method of electing members to the Ripon School Board - a method of election provided for under state law in which candidates run from strict geographical areas of near-equal population, but all voters in the school district elect all Board members.

Every ten years, after the US Census is conducted, changes in population figures require the District to redraw trustee area boundaries. This is called reapportionment. The Ripon USD School Board worked hard to develop a timely reapportionment plan to change trustee area nominating boundaries so they are almost equal in size to support what is known as the "one person, one vote" concept. The District worked to have changes in place before the 2012 election so voters would be treated fairly.

Public hearings were held and a review of the three possible methods of election was conducted. It was determined that District voters like the present method of electing school board members because with our open enrollment systems, all citizens, regardless of where they live in the school district can vote on all Board members. No persons in the district have voiced support for changing the existing method of election, including the District's site and language advisory committees who support the existing system. Based on this input the Ripon School Board unanimously supports maintaining its present system and recommends a "No" vote on Measure H.

The choice is yours - keep the present system or change to election strictly by and from your trustee area.

Christopher"Kit" Oase, Donna Parks, Christina Orlando, Mike Fisher, Ernest A. Tyhurst

Rebuttal to Arguments Against

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Created: July 23, 2015 14:58 PDT
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