County approves new redistricting map for struggling San Dieguito school district

San Dieguito Union High School’s controversial school district redistricting process ended Monday night when the county school board approved a new map for the district, reversing the previously approved San Dieguito map that sparked controversy and a lawsuit .

The leadership of the San Dieguito district has been beset with divisions and infighting over the past two years, particularly between Republican and Democratic members of the council. Redistricting is one of the issues that has divided the council. More recently, the district weathered the chaos surrounding its superintendent, who was furloughed last week for making controversial comments about Asian students and accuses a board member of abusive behavior.

In February, the San Dieguito board approved a redistricting map that removed three trustees from the areas they were chosen to represent and drew the boundaries of voting subdistricts around the homes of current trustees. The map was also controversial because it divided some communities, such as Solana Beach, into two or three voting sub-districts.

Two community members sued San Dieguito over the map, alleging it was political gerrymandering. The lawsuit also alleged that the card diluted the voting power of Asians and Latinos in certain sub-districts. The lawyer representing San Dieguito had claimed that the lawsuit contained “numerous inaccuracies” without proof.

Earlier this month, the San Diego County School Board resumed the redistricting process for San Dieguito because the district didn’t hold a public hearing on its redistricting map until a month after the deadline for finalize a map. The county superintendent had also warned San Dieguito that his map potentially violated state law because it reshuffled voting area boundaries, rather than simply adjusting them as required by state law.

Community members who attended Monday’s county school board meeting praised the new county-approved map and thanked the county board for ‘saving’ the district from itself .

The new map received praise from Lisa Montes, a Solana Beach resident and one of two plaintiffs who sued San Dieguito. She said she liked the map because it preserved Solana Beach’s historic Mexican-American neighborhood, La Colonia de Eden Gardens.

“Thank you so much, San Diego County Board of Education, for coming out and saving this district with this map,” Montes said at Monday’s meeting.

Cory Briggs, attorney for the plaintiffs, said his clients are not withdrawing their lawsuit. He said San Dieguito has not officially taken back his approved map, and he said that this map could still become the district map if someone disputes the county-approved map.

The county council had a choice of three draft maps, all drawn by ARCBridge Consulting, an outside firm. Officials said the three maps did not deviate from the old San Dieguito map, but adjusted the boundaries to achieve nearly equal population totals for each voting subdistrict.

The county-selected map received the most positive feedback from community members who attended Tuesday’s meeting. According to Priti Mathur, director of ARCBridge Consulting, the card was also the best of the three options for keeping high school feeding patterns intact.

“It doesn’t sound perfect, but it seems to be the one that meets most requirements,” county school trustee Guadalupe González said at Monday’s meeting.

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