A class action lawsuit filed last month in federal court (San Francisco) states that the law that stops the University of California from using race as a factor when it comes to admissions of students does not meet the requirements of those who are Latinos, blacks or Native Americans. These groups, the lawsuit claims are underrepresented in the school and are unable to seek redress through the school’s governing board.
The pro affirmative action group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) brought the lawsuit against the school against Proposition 209. That ballot measure was approved in 1996. The allow prohibits anyone from giving preferences to individuals based on race or gender in any type of employment, education or contracting position.
This law has been challenged before, and the California Supreme Court has held it strong. However, the group believes that the new class action lawsuit is ideally suited for the current times stating that the United States Supreme Court has recently provided two rulings that uphold some school desegregation programs. The lead counsel for the group, Shanta Driver, states that since the law was put into place, the number of Latino and black high school graduation rates and United of California rates have dropped.
According to the complaint, The University’s Board of Regents has been unable to set admission policies that include ethnicity and race, as well as gender as factors. The complaint states that this positions parents and students at a disadvantage.
President of the school, Mark Yudof has criticized the law in the past and the university’s legal team is looking into the lawsuit, but would not provide a comment about it.
The lawsuit states that Latino, Native Americans and blacks comprise about 25 percent of the freshmen that are enrolled in UC’s nine undergraduate campuses this year. This number is higher than in 1996. However, these minorities comprise a much larger percentage of the public high school graduates from 1996, from 39 percent in 1996 to 48 percent this year. This shows that the minority students are still sharply underrepresented in the school.
In 1997, a three-judge panel upheld the measure. The measure was originally passed by 56 percent of California voters. California is not the only state with these laws, though. Washington, Michigan and Nebraska currently have similar laws. In the state of Texas and in Florida, the legislatures have since banned similar laws that banned the use of race in school admissions within those states.
If you are a California school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, feel free to call Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district issue.