The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of the NAACP against Ferguson School districts for being “too white” and discriminating against African-Americans.
According to the federal complaint filed against the school district, the system used to elect the members of its school board dilutes the “black vote,” causing African-Americans not to be represented properly on the school board. According to the lawsuit, six of the seven board members are white, although seventy percent of the school is African-American.
The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Missouri NAACP and the district’s black residents, according to an ACLU press release. The complaint charges that the at-large voting system violates the Voting Rights Act, as it “impermissibly denies African-American voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.” (Huffington Post)
While this does seem a little discriminatory the way that it is presented in the lawsuit by the ACLU, as other organizations have pointed out, it is simply not factual.
Well, it turns out the blacks aren’t a majority in the school district at all:
“While more than three-fourths of the district’s students are black, the area’s voting-age population is majority-white. The ACLU suit contends that the district’s at-large system results in the black vote getting drowned out. It calls for a new system where the district is broken down into sub-regions, each of which would elect one person to the district school board.” (my emphasis)
You see, Ferguson-Florissant School District is made up of many communities, not just the embattled town of Ferguson. It was created by a 1975 desegregation order to include diverse communities, and wouldn’t you know it, some of those communities include white people. Even more treacherous is that somehow the whites represent a majority. (Downtrend)
This school district does not just represent the one school, but many schools in the community.
The ACLU is turning this into a battle over what happened with the riots and the militarization of the police, maintaining that the school district does not provide for the “needs” of African-Americans.
“There is also a significant lack of responsiveness to the needs of the African-American community on the part of other local government officials,” it says. “These protests were triggered by a number of events following the shooting that signaled local officials’ disregard for the needs of Ferguson’s African-American residents, including the police department’s initial refusal and delay in releasing the name of the shooting officer; and the police department’s excessive response to peaceful protesters, including the use of tear gas, armored vehicles, assault rifles, and military uniforms.” (Huffington Post)
On the other side of the coin, the school district is reviewing the lawsuit in hopes it is merely a political stunt in light of recent happenings in the embattled city. They plan to have a lengthy response to the press at another time.
Brian Anderson of Downtrend puts it this way:
Besides ignoring the democratic process of holding fair elections, this lawsuit assumes that black people are both interested in public service and vote. The city of Ferguson is majority black and yet the city council is almost entirely white. You can’t chalk that up to gerrymandering or at-large elections. The blacks of Ferguson do not want the low-paying jobs of city council members and they don’t care enough to vote the white people out of office. I’m sure a similar dynamic is in place for the school board. (Downtrend)
IF their candidates were denied the right to run based on the color of skin, or if they were suppressed from running, they would have cause to sue. Neither of those scenarios are represented by this lawsuit. Attempting to discredit the votes of the white majority in that district to provide for a black minority is beyond wrong. Not to mention, this completely discredits the voting system that has been established and has worked without complaint since 1975.
This seems like a case of reverse discrimination. What do you think of this lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below.