FORT WORTH -- School board members are expected to vote tonight on a redistricting map that some people say does not reflect Hispanic growth in the area.
But an advisory committee that helped develop the plan has said the map would actually strengthen the chances of Hispanics electing candidates of their choice for the Fort Worth school district's board of trustees.
The district is redrawing voting districts as required to reflect population shifts in the recent U.S. census.
However, the district's efforts have the additional challenge of creating a ninth voting district from the current eight. Some in the Hispanic community said the proposed map is misleading.
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Although the numbers show that group is the majority in at least three voting districts, the likelihood that they can elect a candidate of choice is severely diminished because three predominantly Anglo neighborhoods are in those districts, those critics say.
Park Hill and Berkeley Place are proposed to be in District 8, and Mistletoe Heights would be in District 9.
Fernando Florez of the United Hispanic Council of Tarrant County said his group will challenge the map in court if it is adopted.
"The evidence is overwhelming that they are ... adding on to our Hispanic-opportunity districts to dilute them," Florez said.
He said the proposed map would mean it is likely that Hispanics could elect only one candidate of choice, even though about 60 percent of the school district's students are Latino.
In the last decade, the school district has gained about 45,000 Hispanic residents and lost about 38,500 Anglos.
Residents from Park Hill, Berkeley Place and Mistletoe Heights had told officials they wanted their neighborhoods to be in District 8 because it includes Paschal High School, their home school.
But because the committee had heard concerns from some Hispanics about including all those neighborhoods, Mistletoe Heights was moved to the new District 9, attorney Lisa McBride told trustees recently.
McBride is a Houston-based lawyer working with the district on redrawing voting maps.
Bert Williams, chairman of the district's advisory committee, said the proposed map meets all criteria set out by the board and was created with the help of Hispanics on the committee.
"What we were concerned about was trying to make sure we were fair and legal," Williams said.
Two Hispanics on the committee opposed the plan.
Federal authorities must still clear the map.
Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700