The board endorsed the map in December. It was favored by the board’s four Republican members, who are white, and opposed by the three Democrats, who are Black.
The map put two incumbents — Democrats Jaha Howard and Charisse Davis — in the same district. Neither of them ran for reelection.
“I believe this map that you’re presenting today is very disruptive,” Davis told then-board chair Randy Scamihorn. “It is, in fact, not a fair map.”
The suit alleges the board’s white members used a “secretive map-drawing process to maintain their tenuous majority.”
The maps up for consideration were not available for public inspection prior to the meeting where the board voted.
The map was later approved by Georgia lawmakers. The lawsuit alleges that the Georgia Legislature bypassed the usual process, which would have required approval by the legislators who represent Cobb County, and instead moved it through the general legislation process.
Cobb County is the third-largest county in Georgia. Whites made up about 53% of Cobb’s population in 2019 — a number that’s been shrinking over the last decade.
Race has been a point of contention for the Cobb County Board of Education in recent years: The board was criticized for not renaming Wheeler and Walton high schools, which were named after a Confederate general and a man from a slave-owning family who signed the Declaration of Independence. It passed an early ban on the teaching of critical race theory in schools. It’s recently been accused by Campbell High School students of tolerating hate speech.
The map in question is in use for the current school board race. Republican Stephen M. George Jr. and Democrat Becky Sayler are still in the running for the District 2 seat. Incumbent Chastain is challenged by Democrat Catherine Pozniak in District 4. And in District 6, Democrat Nichelle Davis does not have a Republican challenger.