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Pasadena School Board Denies Ballot Proposal Which Would Have Allowed Noncitizens to Vote on District Measures

Published on Friday, July 31, 2020 | 4:39 am

With less than two weeks before a ballot measure would need to be ready for the November 3 ballot, the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board Thursday voted down a proposed ballot measure that would allow all PUSD parents to vote on school district measures, regardless of citizenship.

The vote effectively kills the measure for at least two years.

Pasadenans Empowering Parental Participation in Educational Governance (PEPPEG) originally brought the issue to the PUSD board last year and garnered some interest but, board member Michele Richardson Bailey told PEPPEG advocate Brett Shears in the online meeting, “You had our support, but you did not do the work to get signatures, and now you are putting this on our backs, and that is not okay.”

Board member Scott Phelps also said during the at-times testy discussion that both he and PUSD Board President Patrick Cahalan were originally on the ballot measure “bandwagon.” But in the end, Phelps voted to table the measure, and Cahalan abstained.

The consensus among the Board members was that the measure did not have enough community support. Shear did not visit City Council over the past year, or present any signatures to the PUSD Board.

“I don’t think there’s any other way to interpret the vote but as a rejection of the proposal,” said Shears in an email to PEPPEG members following the vote. “Many board members expressed sympathy for the cause, but they ultimately used their time and their vote to express their disagreement with the proposal more generally.”

Shear added, “Needless to say, this is a big setback. But I think I speak for many (if not most) of us by saying we are committed to moving this forward in the next election cycle.”

PUSD Resolution 2578 would have “supported efforts” to place a City Charter amendment on the November 2020 ballot to grant voting rights in PUSD elections to all parents or guardians of PUSD children, regardless of other disqualifying factors such as citizenship, and would have requested the Pasadena City Council agendize the item for their meeting scheduled August 3.

The San Francisco Unified School District successfully passed a measure to ensure parental voting rights for their Board of Education regardless of citizenship status in 2016, according to the resolution.

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