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President Earnest keeps constituents informed on lawsuit developments

Last Friday, October 21, new SBISD Board of Trustees President Chris Earnest published a letter to SBISD parents, staff and the community at large. President Earnest's letter was the first proactive, unprompted step to inform the community on Elizondo vs. SBISD since the lawsuit was filed.

In his letter, presumably written on behalf of a majority of the board, Mr. Earnest gave a brief history of the lawsuit, a procedural update, and most importantly, expressed the board's commitment to "zealously" fighting the lawsuit.

Mr. Earnest briefly described the history of the lawsuit, saying:

"...Plaintiff seeks a court order that would require SBISD to change its system for electing school board trustees. SBISD currently utilizes an “at-large” election system, meaning that trustees can live anywhere within the District. The Plaintiff argues that the at-large system violates the Voting Rights Act by depriving Hispanic voters of an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice. The Plaintiff wants the court to require the District to adopt a “single-member district” system wherein SBISD would be divided into seven voting districts, and each voting district would elect a trustee to the Board."

Mr. Earnest cointinued:

"SBISD maintains that its at-large system does not violate the voting rights act, and is the most appropriate and effective means of governance for the District." later adding, "SBISD continues to prepare for trial and will do all it can to zealously defend our “at-large” system."

We at Save SBISD are quite pleased to see this initiative from the current leadership of the Board of Trustees. It is a stark contrast to earlier this year, when prior leadership not only initiated settlement talks with the plaintiff, but also attempted to remain in power past the expiration of their terms. Had they been successful in their power grab, they would still be leading the district today!

Procedurally, things have slowed it seems, according to this information from Mr. Earnest:

"The case was set for a possible trial on October 3, 2022, before Judge Kenneth Hoyt in Houston. However, only a few weeks before the potential trial, Judge Hoyt recused himself and the case was transferred to Judge Charles Eskridge who also recused himself from the case. The case was then transferred to Judge Sim Lake. These transfers erased all scheduled court dates for the case. SBISD is awaiting instructions from the new judge to determine when trial will happen."

So, with the case in front of its third Judge in as many months and no prescribed trial date, there is little specificity on when there may be resolution on this matter. We at Save SBISD will continue to monitor the situation and update our readers as the timeline becomes more clear.

Regardless of when that may be, we again reiterate our appreciation to President Earnest and the new Board of Trustees for their unwavering commitment to this fight, and the newfound transparency they are bringing to the process.

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You can read Mr. Earnest's letter here.


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