You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

Wolf Point to redraw districts for school board

- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Wolf Point school district has agreed to redraw its voting areas for board elections after an ACLU lawsuit argued the district favored white voters in the predominantly Native American area.

The settlement approved by District Judge Brian Morris on April 9 calls for reducing the total number of school board members to six and creating five districts with nearly the same number of residents, the ACLU said.

One board member will be elected on an at-large basis.

"Native American voters in Wolf Point will now have the representation they are due under the federal Voting Rights Act," Jon Ellingson, attorney for the ACLU of Montana, said Monday.

Superintendent Joe Paine did not immediately return a phone call on Monday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit in August after learning that members of a majority white voting area with 430 people had been electing three board members, while a predominantly Native American voting area with 4,205 people elected five members.

"The old districts clearly violated the principle of one person, one vote by creating a school board where the political power of the Native American community was diluted by the unconstitutional imbalance of the voting districts," Ellingson said. "Now every person's vote will count equally."

The Wolf Point school website says 80 percent of its students are Native Americans.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.