On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Ferguson-Florissant School District for undermining the Black vote for school elections. As stated on ACLU’s official website, the suit is also on behalf of the NAACP’s Missouri chapter and Ferguson’s Black residents that have voiced concern that 77 percent of students are of color, but only one Black person is on the school board. ACLU is demanding that future elections have more diversity, to accurately reflect the student body.
As a part of their suit, ACLU is challenging the at-large voting system of Ferguson. When a governing body is at large, it is meant to represent the majority of their client(s), which is clearly not the case here with the FFSD. The press release for the suit reads:
“[the Ferguson school district] impermissibly denies African-American voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.” Further on, from Jeffrey Mittman, the executive director of the ACLU in Missouri: “It is a core American value that everyone has the right to cast a vote that counts. This lawsuit is a positive step toward addressing racial inequities in our education system that will affect not only Ferguson, but all of Missouri.”
What the ACLU wants is an electoral voting system, which would directly involve the Black people of Ferguson who live there. This lawsuit is a reflection of how in recent weeks, the deaths of Black men like Eric Garner and Michael Brown have opened wider conversations on racial equality and justice from the judicial system.
The school system for much of the greater parts of St. Louis have been in disarray since even before the grand jury announced Darren Wilson would not be brought to trial for killing Brown. Prior to the decision, school was delayed for over a week over concerns of rioting, and then classes were delayed again once protests had gotten extremely violent in Ferguson. The heightened tensions have somewhat calmed since December, but the chaos has affected students properly attending school.
The FFSD had nothing to say but this about the lawsuit: “The Ferguson-Florissant School District is reviewing the lawsuit filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). We hope to issue a statement in the near future.”