By: Krystle Crossman
The Ferguson-Florissant School District in Missouri is being sued by the ACLU. The lawsuit claims that the voting system that they use to elect school board members undercuts the black votes severely so that the black voices are not heard during school board meetings. Over 75% of the students that attend the schools in this district are black but there is only one board member out of seven who is not white.
This school district has had plenty to deal with over the last few months on top of this lawsuit. They were forced to push back the start of school a week because of the protests after Michael Brown was gunned down in the street by Officer Darren Wilson. They again had to shut the school down once the grand jury stated that they were not going to indict Officer Wilson on any charges in the incident and the protests became violent.
The district uses an at-large voting system for picking its board members which the ACLU says leaves black voters underrepresented. The voting-age population in the area is white for the most part which means that the number of black voters is severely undercut. The ACLU states that this violates the Voting Rights Act which is why the lawsuit is being filed. They want the voting system to change and want it to be broken down by sub-regions within the district. Each sub-region would have one representative on the school board. They feel that this will help with the black vote as the districts in Ferguson are still very much segregated. This way the sub-regions where the majority of minorities live would have representatives that would make up more of the school board members.
They are hoping that with more black representatives on the school board the needs of African-American students will be attended to. There is a large educational gap between black and white students but the ACLU states that these issues are not being brought up because there is only one black representative on the school board. The spokesperson for the school district stated that they were looking into the issue and reviewing the lawsuit carefully.
The ACLU also states that there wasn’t enough responsiveness by the government when it came to dealing with the militarization of police in the area. They said that the officers displayed an extreme disregard for African-Americans when it came to the incident with Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson, especially when it came to handling the protesters.