NAACP wins settlement: District voting for education comes to Fayette

Fayette County is about to get district voting after all, at least when it comes to the Fayette County Board of Education.

A resolution to the portion of the redistricting lawsuit filed by the Fayette County Branch of the NAACP that pertains to the Fayette County Board of Education has been settled. The Dec. 15 Consent Decree awaits formal approval from the school board tonight (Jan. 9). Preliminary indications are that the vote may not be unanimous.

Both parties in the case agreed to avoid further litigation and settle out of court.

The paperwork indicates the proposed settlement was agreed upon Dec. 15, but was not publicly revealed until today in an obscure posting on the school system’s website.

There is also no indication in the paperwork who directed the school board’s attorney to draw up the proposed decree back before Christmas. But the publishing of the proposed decree indicates that the school board attorney knew the school board had at least three votes in favor of settling with the NAACP. How and when that preliminary decision occurred is not on the public record.

The Consent Decree states that “The parties have agreed upon a single-member redistricting plan that provides an equal opportunity for Blacks to elect candidates of their choice to the Board of Education in District 5, in which Blacks comprise 48.68 percent of the total population and 46.2 percent of the voting age population.

The decree also states that, “Each member of the Board of Education shall be elected by a majority of the votes cast by qualified electors residing within the boundaries of each respective single-member education district.”

The decree also notes that candidates for election to the school board must have resided in the district at least 12 months prior to the election date.

A further condition in the Consent Decree states that newly appointed District 5 board member Leonard Presburg will be up for election in November. The winner of that special November election will serve two years, the remainder of the Post 5 term through December 2014.

Presberg was appointed Nov. 14, 2011 to fill the unexpired term of the late Sam Tolbert.

School board members Terri Smith (District 2), Marion Key (District 3) and Janet Smola (District 1) are also up for reelection this year. Qualifying for the seats will be in April with the primaries coming in July.

The decree also requires that the Fayette County Board of Education, as defendants, must pay the defendant’s attorney costs and expenses amounting to $5,000.

The remaining defendants in the lawsuit — the Fayette County Commission and the Board of Elections — have not announced a settlement.