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Trustee Area Elections


**NEW**  Trustees Area Election FAQs


The Carlsbad Unified School District intends to seek a waiver of the Education Code Requirement that the Establishment of Trustee Areas and Adoption of a By-Trustee Area Election Process be put to a vote by the Electors of the District, eliminating the need to go through the expense and uncertainty of a ballot measure on this subject. The Public Hearing will be held at the September 20, 2017 Regular Board meeting.

Notice of Public Hearing - Intent to Request Waiver 


Past Postings:


The trustee area map selected by the CUSD Board of Trustees (the “green” map) was approved by the County Committee (San Diego County Board of Trustees) at its September 13 meeting. The CUSD Board of Trustees will hold a Public Hearing on September 20 requesting that the California State Board of Education (SBE) waive the requirement that by-trustee-area election methods be approved at a districtwide election.  During the next 20 days, various groups will be contacted (including bargaining units, school site councils, DELAC, PSAC, and TSAC) to obtain feedback/position on the waiver request. On October 18, the CUSD Board will vote to  approve or reject the Waiver Resolution and, if approved, the Waiver will be submitted to the State Board of Education by October 20. The last step will be when the State Board of Education votes on the matter on January 18-19, 2018.


The San Diego County Office of Education held a Public Hearing regarding the Proposed Change of Election System and Establishment of Trustee Areas for the Governing Board of the Carlsbad Unified School District, at 6:00 p.m., Monday, August 21, 2017, at the CUSD Board Room/Resource Training Room. Notice of Public Hearing CUSD 8-21-17


CUSD Trustees took action at the July 19, 2017 Board meeting to approve the "Green Map" and Resolution No. 05-1718 to adopt the Trustee Area Elections Map and Establish Trustee Areas from which CUSD Board Members will be elected in a By-Trustee Area Election process.


CUSD Trustees took action at the May 17, 2017 Board meeting to approve Resolution No. 39-1617 to Initiate the Process of Establishing Trustee Areas and Elections By-Trustee Areas. 


Draft Map Now Available for Review and Public Comment


National Demographics Corporation has generated a draft Trustee Area map. It can be accessed in two ways:

  1. In an interactive online format, available by clicking here

  2. As downloadable PDF: Green Map

At the June 21, 2017 Regular meeting of the Board, CUSD Trustees decided to seek public comment on one Trustee Area Map, rather than multiple maps. The "Green" draft map was chosen for consideration. 


Community feedback is encouraged. Comments can be submitted in writing via email at votingarea@carlsbadusd.net or in person at upcoming public hearings (see below for times and dates).


Public Hearings Schedule, Updated


The Carlsbad Unified Board of Trustees approved, on June 8, the following updated schedule of public hearings:

Trustee Area Elections to Proceed


The Carlsbad Unified School District Board of Trustees has voted to voluntarily move to trustee area elections, taking advantage of a legal protection that enables school districts to have a say in trustee area boundaries and avoid costly litigation. This protection applies only to school districts that pass a resolution within 45 days of receiving a demand letter alleging a violation of the California Voting Rights Act. The resolution must indicate the school district’s intent to move to trustee area elections and the plan to make the change.


CVRA and Trustee Area Elections


The CVRA (California Elections Code section 14025 et seq.) went into effect January 1, 2003, and was enacted to prevent the use of an at-large election method where such method impairs the ability of minority voters to either elect a candidate of their choosing or otherwise influence the outcome of elections. An "at-large method of election" under the CVRA is a system where voters of the entire jurisdiction elect the members to the Board of Trustees. Carlsbad Unified School District has utilized an "at-large method of election" since its inception.


In April 2017, the District received a letter from the law firm of Shenkman & Hughes claiming the school district is violating the California Voting Rights Act (Elec. Code §§ 14025-14032) because Trustees are elected at-large rather than by trustee areas. Dozens of local government agencies in California have faced similar challenges in recent years, including the cities of Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista and San Marcos and the school districts of Oceanside Unified, Vista Unified, and San Marcos Unified.


Almost without exception, other school districts and cities have either voluntarily, or been forced to adopt changes to their method of electing Trustees and/or City Council members. Many have settled claims out of court by essentially agreeing to voluntarily shift to trustee area elections. Others have defended challenges through the courts. Those agencies that attempted to defend their existing “at large” system of elections in court have incurred significant legal costs because the California Voting Rights Act gives plaintiffs the right to recover attorney fees.


To date, no public agency that has fought a lawsuit has prevailed, with some paying legal fees in the millions.


Related Information


The City of Carlsbad webpage, “District Elections Explained”