Former Richardson ISD school board trustee files discrimination suit

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A former school board trustee is suing Richardson ISD with claims of discrimination in school board elections. The lawsuit could affect school board races scheduled for May.

The lawsuit says Richardson ISD is like the tale of two of two school districts. Affluent schools, like White Rock Elementary, are well represented by the school board while low performing schools don't have any school board members from their neighborhoods, the suit claims.

David Tyson says he's suing Richardson ISD to bring diversity to the currently all-white school board.

“I'm the one and only minority to ever serve on the Richardson ISD school board,” he said. “I guess I am living proof that a minority can be elected unopposed. It's not prudent to run a district the size of RISD without those voices being heard."

Each Richardson ISD board member is elected to serve the entire district rather than single-member districts that represent individual neighborhoods. The lawsuit contends that's why there are no minorities on the board despite minorities making up 70 percent of the district.

RISD would not comment on the case, saying it is district's practice to not comment on pending litigation.

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson says recent court rulings have struck down at-large voting systems.

“This is very late in the game for Richardson to still to be fighting this battle,” he said. “The courts almost always favor single-member districts, and I believe they will in this instance as well.”

Tyson grew up attending segregated schools in Louisiana. He hopes his lawsuit will prompt change.

“When you have people that are part of that community, they will be a voice for that community, be able to speak up more in the boardroom, helping their colleagues understand better what is happening in a particular school,” Tyson said.

The lawsuit is seeking to have the May election postponed so the system can be changed. The attorney on this case has succeeded with similar lawsuits in Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Grand Prairie and Irving.