“What this means is that our case is proceeding exactly as plaintiffs originally pled it last summer,” said SPLC attorney Poy Winichakul in an emailed statement.
A group of voting rights organizations, led by the SPLC, sued the district last year over the redrawn map that decides which portions of the county are represented by which school board members.
The group alleged in the suit that the map intentionally discriminates against communities of color by “packing” them into a small number of districts to dilute their voting power.
School boards can create new maps every 10 years in line with new U.S. Census population estimates, and the maps are approved by state lawmakers. The school board endorsed the map in December 2021 in a split vote. The board’s four Republican members, who are white, favored the map; the three Democrats, who were Black, opposed.
Attorneys for the elections board argued that the school board, as one of the map’s creators, should also be liable. But the judge disagreed, arguing that the school board was not proven to have a longstanding pattern of constitutional violations when it comes to redistricting maps.
The suit against the board of elections will continue, though the district has encouraged it to move to dismiss the case. The district will continue to participate in the case as an intervenor because it has “great interest in the outcome of the case,” and “wants to make sure the appropriate defenses are raised,” said Bob Mathis, an attorney representing Cobb schools.
The SPLC’s Winichakul is pleased the case is moving forward.
“We look forward to proving our case on the merits,” she said.