Georgia Senate passes redrawn school board districts, critics claim new map doesn’t fix racial discrimination

The Georgia state Senate has passed a bill to redraw school board districts in Georgia’s second-largest school system after a federal judge ruled they were unconstitutionally discriminatory. But Democrats warn that the Republican-backed map doesn’t fix the racial discrimination that led U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross to order the Cobb County school district to not use the map in the May 2024 election, when four board seats will be contested. The districts had produced a 4-3 Republican majority even though a majority of Cobb voters have backed Democrats in recent statewide elections. The lawsuit, which was filed by a group of Cobb County residents and liberal-leaning political groups, alleges that Republicans illegally crammed Black and Hispanic voters into three districts in the southern part of the suburban Atlanta county, solidifying Republicans’ hold on the remaining four districts. GEORGIA REPUBLICAN HOUSE SPEAKER PROPOSES ADDITIONAL CHILD INCOME TAX CUT Ross agreed, finding the people who drew the map relied too much on race. Republican Sen. Ed Setzler of Acworth said the map would maintain core communities from current districts, calling it “the work of a very thoughtful process.” But Democratic Sen. Jason Esteves of Atlanta, who represents parts of Cobb County, said Setzler and Republicans short-circuited the normal local legislative process to try to maintain a Republican majority. “This map and the proposal in the bill violate the clear provisions of the federal court order that was issued late last year,” Esteves said. “This map continues the packing of Black and brown voters in Cobb County, particularly on the south side of the county, limiting their influence.” The map moves on to the House for more debate. If lawmakers give it final passage, Ross would have to decide if it passes legal muster. If lawmakers don’t act quickly, Ross could draw a map without legislative input. “This is not something we need to wait around until March to do,” Setzler said. “There’s an election coming up in May.” Any new map could upset the Republican majority on the board. The 106,000-student district has been riven by political conflict in recent years, with the GOP majority often imposing its will over the protests of the three Democratic members. The district has alleged the plaintiffs are pursuing a Democratic takeover of the board through the lawsuit and appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a confusing pair of rulings last week, one three-judge panel on the appeals court refused to reinstate the school board, while another three-judge panel on the same day stayed Ross’ injunction.
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