In a recent ruling on the method used to send children in the Berkeley Unified School District to school, the school system was found not to be discriminating. The American Civil Rights Foundation who believed the method of selecting children for schools was unfair challenged the system.
States have implemented affirmative policies that help to foster diversity within the school systems. Courts are often faced with making decisions on whether these policies have gone too far and in themselves are now discriminatory based on race.
The policy in question was one, which had the goals of achieving social diversity. The school system uses a unique process to determine the location of the child’s school. They base this on the neighborhood demographics. The policy in no way considers race, the court found, and therefore is not doing anything illegal by working to promote diversity in the system.
The assignment policy for the school district takes into fact a variety of components. This includes the student’s residential neighborhood, the average household income in that neighborhood, the average education level of the adults living there, and the racial composition of the entire neighborhood, but not the student. When the demographics of a neighborhood are in use rather than the student’s race itself, there is no case of discrimination against the student nor is the student receiving preferential treatment.
For those of you in school district management, whether or not you are a Sylvester, Oppenheim & Linde client, you will find the court’s opinion very educational. We invite you to read or download it by clicking on the following link: Court of Appeal Opinion A121137.