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Board Considers Potential Changes to Election of Trustees

July 18, 2017

The Dublin Unified Board of Trustees is exploring options for a potential transition into a new system for electing governing board members.

The District is responding to a letter from Kevin Shenkman, an attorney with the law firm of Shenkman & Hughes in Malibu, California. Mr. Shenkman, who is representing the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, is requesting the Board act to make a significant change to the Trustee election process from at-large elections to a trustee-area model.

Dublin Unified currently elects candidates through the “at-large” process, an election method that permits voters of an entire jurisdiction, in this case, the city of Dublin, to elect candidates to each open seat. The Board is exploring the appropriateness of an alternative system, a “by-trustee-area” model in which the school district is physically divided into separate trustee-areas, each with one school board trustee, who resides in the trustee-area and is chosen by the electors residing in that particular area. The intent of a “by-trustee-area” system is to provide greater opportunity for diverse Board representation among candidates that might not be elected in an at-large system.

Cities and school districts throughout the state have been facing legal challenges to “at-large” systems. More than 140 school districts in the state of California have switched from at-large systems to the “by-trustee-area” model since the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) was passed in 2001.

The Board, in collaboration with legal counsel who has worked with districts around the state on this issue, is reviewing the request. The Board will gather information and act in the best interest of the school community.

A special Board meeting will be held on Monday, July 24 at 6:30 p.m. Legal counsel will outline the options, the Board will hear public comment and after weighing all options and its legal obligations, the Board will make a decision on this matter.

The timing of the special meeting is required by law. On September 28, 2016, the Governor signed AB 350 into law, which attempts to provide a “safe harbor” from CVRA for school governing boards. If a Board receives a demand letter, such as in Dublin’s case, the District is given 45 days of protection from litigation to assess its situation. If within that 45 days, a Board adopts a resolution declaring the District’s intent to transition from “at-large” to “by-trustee-area” elections, outlines specific steps to be undertaken to facilitate the transition and estimates a time frame for action, then a potential challenger is prohibited from filing a CVRA action for an additional 90-day period. During this 90-day period, the District holds a series of public hearings and community meetings prior to finalizing its decision.

You may email us at if you have feedback for the Board on this topic. They will review all correspondence received 24 hours in advance of the meeting.