A U.S. district judge dismissed a lawsuit against Frisco ISD that claimed its at-large voting system prevents minority candidates from getting elected to the board of trustees.
The Aug. 4 ruling by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant dismissed Frisco resident Suresh Kumar’s case with prejudice, stating FISD’s at-large electoral system does not violate the Voting Rights Act.
“Invidious discrimination must be stomped out in this nation,” Mazzant wrote in his opinion. “No reasonable argument exists that could support a system that permits such evil. Yet simply because someone claims discrimination exists does not make it so.”
The suit, filed in April 2019, called on FISD to alter its at-large system of board representation into single-member districts for board members. Under the current system, every board member represents the entire school district rather than specified geographic areas of the district.
Brewer Storefront, the law firm that filed the suit on behalf of Kumar, has sued other local school districts, including Richardson and Lewisville ISDs, in an effort to change their at-large systems. LISD’s suit was dismissed last week by a separate U.S. district judge. RISD reached a settlement that has the district converting five of its seven board seats to single-member districts.
“Frisco ISD is glad the court recognized that the district’s at-large election system does not result in discrimination against our minority community members,” FISD board President Chad Rudy said in a statement. “The district’s mission is to know every student by name and need, and the at-large system ensures our board members represent every family in the community."
Kumar's attorney William A. Brewer III, who is also a partner at Brewer Storefront, said his law firm is "committed to participating with communities of interest who lack representation" as a result of at-large voting systems.
“Frisco ISD’s outdated election system denies minority voters a fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choosing,” Brewer said in a statement. “We believe the evidence presented at trial, which includes the existence of racially polarized voting by white voters, itself, demonstrates the need for change."
A four-day trial on the civil suit concluded May 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Courthouse in Sherman. The plaintiff’s attorneys called eight witnesses during the trial. Those included Kumar and former candidates for the FISD board who were defeated, including Grace Wang and Muni Janagarajan, among others. Previously filed court documents showed the plaintiff’s case involved experts stating minority candidates would have a greater chance of getting elected to the board if the district created single-member districts.
FISD’s attorneys called 11 witnesses, including Superintendent Mike Waldrip, board President Chad Rudy and board Vice President John Classe, among others. Previously filed court documents show FISD’s experts planned to argue that the methodology being used by the plaintiff’s experts was inconsistent.
FISD was represented by the firm of Abernathy, Roeder, Boyd & Hullett, P.C.