Court Leery Of Race Bias Claims Over Boston School Admission Policy
On Wednesday, it appeared unlikely that a U.S. appeals court would uphold accusations that Boston school administrators had discriminated against white and Asian American students by limiting admission to exclusive public high schools to residents of specific zip codes.
The Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence is requesting that a three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston overturn the decision of the judge who dismissed its appeal of the 2021 policy, which is no longer in force.
The case represents a new front in the legal conflict over college admissions practises that involve or have an impact on the racial makeup of campuses. In ongoing cases involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court may abolish affirmative action practises employed by several colleges and universities.
As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, Boston modified its exam-based admission requirements for Boston Latin School and two other prestigious schools in 2021. According to the Parent Coalition, the programme unfairly favoured Black and Latino candidates by basing quotas on zip codes.
Due to the fact that the policy did not use race as a factor in applicant screening, the 1st Circuit last year decided it was likely constitutional and declined to stop it awaiting the result of the case.
Circuit Judge William Kayatta questioned Chris Kieser, an attorney for the Parent Coalition and a member of the Pacific Legal Foundation, on Wednesday about what had changed since the panel’s April 2021 decision.
Kieser cited information indicating that the proportion of white and Asian American students at the three schools decreased from 69% to 41% last year as well as the revelation that members of Boston’s School Committee, which adopted the policy, had exchanged racially offensive text messages with one another.
Kayatta appeared sceptical and questioned the statistical significance of the data.
No one would object if you flipped a coin and got two heads in a row since the results were not random, the judge remarked.
The Parent Coalition is requesting a court order mandating the admission of five anonymous pupils whose applications were denied due to the policy.
The Boston School Committee’s Kay Hodge informed the 1st Circuit panel on Wednesday that Boston’s policy was intended to achieve socioeconomic diversity rather than racial equality.
Hodge said that the appeal was irrelevant as the policy had been discontinued and the court could not grant relief to particular students who were not parties to the dispute.
Circuit Judges O. Rogeriee Thompson and Jeffrey Howard are on the 1st Circuit panel.
The Pacific Legal Foundation has filed a similar lawsuit against an exclusive Virginia high school’s admissions procedure, and the 4th Circuit is presently reviewing it.
Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence Corp. v. The School Committee of the City of Boston, 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 21-1303 and 22-1144, is the case at hand.