Latino groups still upset over lack of representation on Pasadena school board
By André Coleman 08/01/2013
Upset over the lack of Latino representation on the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education, three Latino groups appeared before the board on Tuesday night to air their discontent.
Members of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEA) have been upset since the board decided not to choose a Latino board member in May to fill a vacant position after four Latino candidates failed to win any seats in the local elections.
The losses — to three white incumbents — came in the March election and April runoff. The previous year, voters had approved a plan devised by a special task force that changed voting in the district from at large to district only, with the task force splitting the school district into seven separate voting districts in order to help guarantee more Latinos would win elections.
“We want the board to understand every community needs a voice and their actions are not acceptable,” said NHMC President Alex Nogales. “We don’t expect it to be changed. We want them to know we will be watching and scrutinizing all the policies they make. We deserve a voice, especially when we are over 61 percent of the student body population.”
Nogales said that the groups would be conducting a voter registration drive to guarantee more Latino voters will participate in the next election to help insure different results in the next election. Currently, the board is made of five white members and two African Americans.
Ramon Miramontes, the board’s lone Latino representative — did not run for re-election.
But even after the losses, the seven-member body still had a chance to appoint a Latino board member in an at-large seat vacated by Board member Kim Kenne, who was forced to run in the District 1 election or be termed out in four years.
It was widely assumed that one of a number of Latinos of the 37 applicants for the two years remaining in the board’s empty at-large seat would be chosen. The reason for moving to district elections was based on the assumption that the district would be sued for holding “racially polarized” elections under the old system. But instead, the board voted 4-2, with Board President Renatta Cooper and Board member Elizabeth Pomeroy in the minority, to appoint Learning Works Director and Sierra Madre resident Mikala Rahn.