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North Texas School District Settles Voting Rights Lawsuit

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The Richardson Independent School District settled a lawsuit Thursday alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act.

The settlement agreement includes a reconfiguration of school board elections.

The district will shift to single-member districts for five of seven Richardson ISD trustee elections. Two remaining seats will maintain at-large election status.

The change comes after former RISD Trustee David Tyson filed suit, claiming the district's at-large election process systematically blocked minority candidates from winning trustee elections.

Tyson is the only racial minority trustee elected to the RISD Board.

"It wasn't working for people of color. The history shows it wasn't happening. I was the only person of color to make it through that process," Tyson said.

Sixty-percent of RISD's student enrollment is comprised of Hispanic and African American students, but minority accessibility to elected representation for RISD remains elusive.

Under the trustee approved plan, two of the five single member districts will be carved from minority dominant sections of the district. The Hamilton Park Pacesetter School area, east of Highway 75 near Forest Lane has been the district's most concentrated minority neighborhood, but since its development 60 years ago, no RISD board member has come from the community.

RISD Board leadership said the lawsuit settlement "a win for equity in education."

Board President Justin Bono said the approved election configuration will benefit the district.

"Our board has openly said we welcome more diversity. We desire more diversity on our board," Bono said.

The settlement agreement pushes slated school board elections to November. Several trustee elections were planned for May.

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