Boston parents seek to overturn exam school admission decision

Schools

Last year, a temporary admissions policy allocated places at exam schools by postcode.

Boston Latin Academy. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

A group of Boston parents is suing to try to get at least five students admitted to various exam schools, The Boston Globe reported. Under a temporary admissions policy last year, these students were unable to find places at Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy and O’Bryant School of Math and Science.

The Parents’ Coalition for Academic Excellence filed papers in federal appeals court on Tuesday, saying the students met the admissions requirements but were turned away because the schools failed to allocate enough seats to their students. postal codes.

The policy in question was intended to increase diversity by limiting exam school seats for each Boston zip code, World reported. It is no longer in use, but a new policy put in place this year also divides exam school places geographically. Territories with similar socio-economic profiles are now grouped together.

The Boston parents who filed the papers are part of a larger push for the First Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling by a lower court judge last year that upheld the legality an admissions policy that assigned seats based on student grades and zip codes.

The policy allowed more black and Latino students to secure places. Fewer Asian and white applicants were accepted, World reported.

“Because these students were denied places in examination schools because of their race, the judgment . . . should be set aside,” the plaintiff’s brief said.

The debate over exam school places in Boston echoes conversations surrounding affirmative action nationwide.

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear two cases later this year regarding the use of race in selective college admissions. A case focused on admissions policies at Harvard could also impact how K-12 admissions are conducted.

As these cases come to the Supreme Court as they move right, colleges and universities are already devising ways to continue to diversify their student populations without considering race as a factor, World reported.

This spring, the Supreme Court weighed in on a lawsuit centered on admissions to a magnet school in Fairfax, Va. The court did not intervene, sending the case back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The number of similar lawsuits is increasing across the country.

In the Fairfax case, a federal district court judge already ruled in favor of parents who said the admissions policy unfairly discriminates against Asian Americans. The judge ruled that Fairfax Schools cease using the policy, but it remains in place while an appeal is filed, the World reported.

Matt Cregor, staff attorney for the Committee of Mental Health Counsel and an expert on school desegregation cases, told the World that there are essential differences between the two cases. Most notably, a judge last year in Boston ruled the admissions plan was constitutional, and the appeals court said in another ruling that the plaintiffs’ appeal would be unsuccessful.

“It’s a long way from where this case is until the Supreme Court of the United States potentially says something different than what our federal courts have already said about this,” Cregor told the World.

The Boston parents behind the recent appeal hope that new evidence that was not present when the court first issued its decision will help argue that the school board intended to discriminate against Asian applicants. and white.

The evidence includes text messages between two school board members who made racially insensitive remarks about white parents in West Roxbury, the World reported.

Lisa Green, a member of the Boston Coalition for Education Equity, said the plaintiffs’ desire to pursue this lawsuit is tied to a nationwide effort to undermine affirmative action, the World reported.

“Given the recent actions of this Supreme Court, many [in Boston] who initially viewed the plaintiff’s lawsuit as a joke, now see the very real potential for national civil rights regression that it presents,” Green told the World. “Maybe another trial will come first, but it would be a tragedy if such a stain on this country were to be unleashed by a handful of people here in Boston. That would take us back to the days of Louise Day Hicks.

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