Central Bucks School District residents and parents gathered at the Doylestown courthouse Friday to learn about a court challenge to the school district’s proposed reapportionment of the nine voting regions that currently regulate school board director elections.
Attorney Brendan Flynn of Curtin & Heefner, LLP announced the filing of court documents on behalf of CBSD Fair Votes, a group of local citizens who reside in a variety of municipalities across the district.
“We are filing a petition to re-district today, we will also be filing an emergency petition to intervene in the Central Bucks School District’s petition, and we will be filing a motion to consolidate the two cases,” he said when contacted by The Beacon prior to the press conference.
Flynn explained that the Board’s plan violates the one person one vote principle of the 14th Amendment, among other things.
The current nine regions map affords Central Bucks School District voters one vote every four years for school board director.
The district’s newly proposed map would disenfranchise approximately 6,000 voters by relocating them to a new region and create a six year delay for those electors to cast a ballot for school board director.
The map being proposed by CBSD Fair Votes creates three regions and would enable voters to cast ballots every two – versus four – years without disrupting seated board members.
CBSD Fair Votes gathered 3,600 signatures for their three-region voting map, far surpassing the 840 signature legal requirement to petition the court.
Tracy Suits, a former school board director, spoke at the press conference saying that the new district map appeared as an agenda item for the November 15 agenda and provided members of the community approximately two days to prepare and ask questions about the proposal.
“With full knowledge that their map disenfranchised 6,000 residents of the district, they refused to wait and vote on their map,” she said. “As a former board member, I am appalled. I am appalled that some of the current members of our board gave so little time and care to protecting our right to vote.”
A court filing on December 8 by the district revealed their petition for regions redistricting; the legal brief provided a 20-day period following publication of the proposal to the public. On January 25 the District filed an amended petition to reduce the 20 day period to 10 days.
Calls to the district’s solicitor, Begley, Carlin & Mandio, for additional information about the amended filing were not returned.
The shortened period of time after publication will allow a new map to impact this year’s municipal election for school board directors.
Pennsylvania law requires school district voting regions to have an equal distribution of population. Historically, these voting maps are reconfigured every ten years based on data from the U.S. census.