Euclid Agrees to Change School Board Elections Because of Bias Allegations

Peter Krouse, Plain Dealer, November 25, 2008

The Euclid city schools will not fight the U.S. Department of Justice over claims about the discriminatory way in which the board is elected.

The Justice Department is expected to file suit against the school board, perhaps as early as today. The lawsuit will include an agreement that the election procedure violates election law.

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The Justice Department’s involvement in Euclid politics goes back to 2003 when it began investigating why no blacks had won election to Euclid’s City Council or school board since 1995, despite a growing African-American population in the city.

After a two-day trial in 2007, U.S. District Judge Kathleen O’Malley forced changes to the system for electing Euclid’s council. Federal prosecutors argued the process prevented blacks from forming a bloc behind a candidate of their choice.

As a result, O’Malley abolished Euclid’s system of four ward seats and four at-large seats. The city now has eight wards. Earlier this year, Kandace Jones, an African-American, was elected to council.

The Euclid school board has five members, all elected to at-large seats. In odd numbered years, either three or two seats are up for election for four-year terms. The top vote-getters win the seats.

Smith, the school attorney, said one remedy could be switching from an at-large system to a ward system.

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