By Ruth Ferguson
Members of the Hispanic community have again risen concerns about what they feel is a lack of fair representation in the Irving
Independent School District.
Despite having an overwhelming majority in the student population, the district has an all-white school board. Community leaders have indicated they feel this is a violation of the Voting Rights Act. They took the matter to court and lost, but some believe now is the time to revisit the issue.
Only 12 percent of the students in Irving ISD are white, compared with 71 percent is Hispanic. The Dallas Morning News reports only one Hispanic has served on the school board in the history of the district.
In 2010, a lawsuit challenging the district’s at-large system failed but U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater left the door open to redistricting without a lawsuit once the results of the 2010 Census were announced. When Judge Fitzwater dismissed the lawsuit in January 2010 he wrote, “After the results of the 2010 census are published, [Manuel] Benavidez may be able to obtain the relief he seeks – trustees elected from single-member districts – without the need for another lawsuit.”
On July 14, Hispanic community leaders hosted a meeting at the Santa Maria de Guadalupe Church, located at 2601 S. MacArthur Blvd. in Irving. The meeting was an effort to inform parents of the next steps toward convincing the school board to voluntarily move to a single-member district.
If the school board rejects the request, some members of the Hispanic community are suggesting the possibility of a new lawsuit. Benavidez was the plaintiff in the previous lawsuit.
In response to the Hispanic leadership’s possible pursuit of another lawsuit against the district, Irving ISD board of trustees met in June to discuss its options with attorneys.