This case challenges the at-large method of electing members of the East Ramapo Central School District Board of Education. The at-large system unlawfully denies black and Latino citizens in the district an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

Under this system, board members are elected by all the voters of the school district rather than voters from individual geographic areas. This allows the majority community – which is white, lives close together, and tends to vote as a political bloc favoring private school education – to control eight of the board’s nine seats. Communities of color, who tend to vote as a bloc for candidates favoring investment in public schools, have not seen their candidates of choice win a contested seat since 2007.

The lawsuit charges that the school board’s at-large voting scheme violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color or minority status. The suit demands the board hold no further elections until a ward system is in place, calling for nine single-member districts.

Attorney(s)

Perry Grossman, Arthur Eisenberg, Kevin Jason, Kristen Burzynski; also on the case: Maria Rafael (Paralegal)

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Latham & Watkins LLP

Date filed

November 16, 2017

Court

United States District Court, Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y.)

Judge

Honorable Cathy Seibel

Status

Active

Case number

17 Civ. 8943

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