Boston Public Schools' new admissions plan that changes the way its top exam schools will accept students this year is receiving a challenge in court from a parent group.
The one-year plan, passed unanimously by the Boston School Committee on Oct. 22 in response to challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, removes the requirement for applicants to complete an admissions test. Instead, seats would be filled based on grades, MCAS scores and zip codes.
The three exam schools affected are Boston Latin Academy, Boston Latin School, and the John D. O’Bryant School of Science and Math.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
In a federal court filing submitted on Friday, the Boston Parents Coalition for Academic Excellence is seeking an injunction to halt the plan, alleging that the committee’s new “Zip Code Quota” will limit children being accepted "from certain predominantly Asian and Caucasian zip codes."
“By seeking to apportion admission seats to the exam schools according to zip codes, the School Committee’s purpose and intent is to decrease the number of children from certain racial and ethnic backgrounds from gaining admission to the exam schools, while increasing the number of children who gain admission to the exam schools from other racial and ethnic backgrounds,” the filing reads.
The lawsuit accused the new system of being unconstitutional in violating the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
“As parents, we want our children to have a fair opportunity to earn admission to the exam schools and enjoy the unsurpassed educational opportunities those schools offer,” Boston Parents Coalition for Academic Excellence representative Ben Cui said in a statement.
But Boston-based Lawyers for Civil Rights said Saturday they would move to challenge the lawsuit, according to The Boston Globe. The group's litigation director, Oren Sellstrom, called it "misguided," harmful to Black and Latinx students and "based on a fundamental misunderstanding of BPS policy and of constitutional law."
A group appointed by BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius in the fall had recommended testing be suspended, and advocates, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, expressed support for the plan.
“This year is meant to be the first year of a new, more equitable exam, also the result of hard and thoughtful work by the superintendent and her team,” Walsh said in October. “Instead, the exam will be given next year to sixth graders in Boston Public Schools and all schools that apply for it."