A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Lewisville ISD that had claimed that the way school trustees are elected prevents minority groups from winning a seat on the board.
The July 31 ruling by U.S. District Judge Sean D. Jordan granted the school district’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed all claims for lack of jurisdiction.
The plaintiff, longtime Lewisville resident Frank Vaughan, sued the district in February 2019 over its at-large voting system for trustees. The suit alleged that the district’s election system violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by denying Hispanic, African American and Asian voters a fair opportunity to elect a person of their choice.
The suit pointed out that while more than 58 percent of Lewisville ISD students in the 2017-18 school year were minorities, all of the school board members are white.
“The problem is that Vaughan, a white male voter, is not a member of any of these minority groups,” the judge wrote in his 15-page memorandum opinion and order.
And because Vaughan is not a member of any of these minority groups, he could not “have suffered the alleged race-based vote dilution” described in his claims, the judge wrote.
LISD board president Katherine Sells released a statement July 31. “We just received this information and have not yet had an opportunity to review the ruling, but we believed all along the facts were on our side,” she stated. “We are pleased the court agreed.”
William A. Brewer III is a partner at Brewer Storefront and counsel to Vaughan.
“We are disappointed that the court allows a stacked-deck voting scheme which enthrones an all-white school board in a diverse district to escape trial,” Brewer said in an email. “We salute our client for stepping forward to redress this injustice. Naturally, we will press forward to rid the community of the at-large voting scheme employed by the Lewisville ISD, which disenfranchises far too many. ... In our view, there is no question that our electoral systems work best when they are inclusive – and representative of the entire community.”
Brewer Storefront has been successful with similar claims over the years involving Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Irving and Grand Prairie ISDs as well as the cities of Irving and Farmers Branch.
Richardson ISD, which settled its legal claims brought by Brewer Storefront, is in the process of switching five of its seven school board seats from at-large representation to single-member districts. Two of the single-member districts were created to have a majority of eligible minority voters, according to officials.
A trial before U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant was held in May over claims in a separate lawsuit related to Frisco ISD’s school board representation. A ruling in that case is pending.
See below for the judge's ruling in the Lewisville ISD case.