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October 5, 2012

On September 26, 2012, NAACP LDF, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College filed a Complaint against New York City and New York State, alleging that their admission practices result in the exclusion of most African American and Latino students from the City's high schools that provide the best opportunities for these children's futures. The complaint points to better admissions practices used for other selective high schools and used by colleges.

The complaint alleges the admissions system violates Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act and, therefore, was filed with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the US Department of Education because OCR has the authority to enforce Title VI. The complainants ask OCR to require the City and State to modify their admissions criteria.

Each year, admission to the City's elite high schools for thousands of 8th graders is based on a single score on a single test. See "Staking too much on one test," an op-ed by Damon Hewitt and Rachel Kleinman in the New York Daily News.

As explained in the complaint, the following organizations are the complainants, and they have "members who are African-American and Latino students (and/or parents of these students)," who "excelled in middle school and have shown promise for academic and civic leadership" but did not gain admission to any of the elite high schools:

  • New York City Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ)
  • La Fuente
  • Alliance for Quality Education (AQE)
  • New York Communities for Change
  • Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence
  • Community Service Society of New York
  • Garifuna Coalition, USA Inc.
  • Make the Road New York
  • Brooklyn Movement Center
  • UPROSE, and
  • DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving).

Title VI is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and provides that recipients of federal funds may not exclude students from participation in their programs or activities on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Both of the Departments of Education of the City and the State are recipients of federal funds.

The regulations implementing Title VI also prohibit a recipient of federal funds from using criteria that have the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin. OCR "may bring enforcement actions against recipients of federal funds that implement policies with a disparate impact, regardless of whether the policy in question was motivated by discriminatory intent." (citations omitted)

See, also, coverage by the New York Times.

Education Justice Press Contact:
Molly A. Hunter, Esq.
Director, Education Justice
email: mhunter@edlawcenter.org
voice: 973 624-1815 x19

Copyright © 2012 Education Law Center. All Rights Reserved.