Never before in the history of Texas had a school district been made to change from seven single-member districts to five single-member districts with two at-large seats as a result of a forced election brought about by the citizenry petitioning the move.
From the outset, Beaumont Independent School District leadership has rallied against any change – forcing voters to gather signatures on a petition to get the measure on the ballot for consideration.
In the May 2011 election, 56 percent of voters decided it was time to change how the leadership was selected to represent the public at BISD.That was the first time in Texas history that such a voting change occurred in this manner, according to the Texas Education Agency, which relayed that information to State Board of Education Member David Bradley.
But the process is not moving about very quickly and several BISD trustees have openly called on members of the black community to write letters to the U.S. Department of Justice decrying racism and asking that the new system not be implemented.
For several months BISD failed to move forward with trying to implement a new system. The argument by some on the board is the new five-member system with two at-large trustees was retrogressive and they do not want to see it implemented.
UPDATE: Board member Woodrow Reece continued his opposition to the new plan during three public hearings held in December. He was joined by a number of people from the black community calling for petitions to stop the plan’s implementation, which they say would disenfranchise minority voters. However, BISD is required to move forward with presenting a plan to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval. That plan is scheduled to be submitted some time in 2012, at which point the DOJ will either grant approval or send BISD back to the drawing board.