DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A group representing thousands of residents and voters in Bucks County filed a petition in Downingtown District Court Friday opposing the Central Bucks School District's proposed plan on changing the district's voting regions for the election of board members.
The group known as Central Bucks School District Fair Votes has a proposed map of its own.
The lawyer for the group, Brendan Flynn, filed on behalf of more than 3,600 residents and voters in the district.
The group is opposing the school district redistricting plan, proposing nine one-member districts. Flynn says the Fair Votes group wants three district groups with three directors each.
"It would allow for every resident of the Central Bucks School District to be able to vote for at least one director every two years,” said Flynn. “In the previous system, you were only able to vote for one school director every four years."
Flynn says the school board’s map would essentially lock in a 7-2 Republican majority in the near future, and says it's clearly a Republican gerrymander.
“The United States Supreme Court has, in a long series of decisions, made clear under the one-person, one-vote principle, there can not be more than a certain amount of deviation between the smallest district and the largest district … and they set that at 10%,” said Flynn. “The Central Bucks plans deviation from the largest and smallest district is approximately 17%.”
He adds the Fair Votes plan establishes districts where the population is made up of about 50% Republicans and 50% Democrats.
“The citizens’ map, the Fair Votes plan, is a fair map that either side will be able to compete for and win,” he said.
“Because our school district is a 51-49 Republican lean, and to have a fair map, it needs to be reflective of our community,” said CBSD parent Shannon Sticker, who signed the petition. “That’s what this map does. It gives our community a voice in our elections that is consistent with what our voter registration is."
Tracy Suits is a resident of Chalfont Borough, a Central Bucks parent, a voter, and a former member of the Central Bucks School Board. She supports a three-district plan where directors’ views are reflective of the voter registration makeup of the district.
"We are tired of not being heard,” said Suits. “We are tired of them making policies that negatively impact our children, especially because they don't protect queer children in the district.”
Controversy surrounded the district board earlier this month when it approved a revision to a policy that prevents teachers from displaying specific items in their classrooms.
The revision added language that bans staff from having flags or other displayed items that take a side in a political or social issue.
Parents and students opposed to the policy disagreed with some of the language of the revision, saying it is harmful to LGBTQ students because the rule would prevent teachers from displaying pride flags.
The hearing on map proposals is scheduled for Feb. 9.
A spokesperson for the school district says the board isn't commenting on the matter and will see it play out in court.