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Supreme Court declines to take up case involving a prestigious exam school with new admissions policy some parents say discriminates against White and Asian students

The Supreme Court today declined to hear a case involving allegations of racial discrimination by an exam school in Virginia that had its admissions policies changed in 2020 to try to increase Black and Hispanic enrollment through a new selection process that takes into account which neighborhoods applicants live in.

In December, a federal appeals court in Boston dismissed a similar lawsuit by White and Asian parents over the way BPS had enacted a new exam-school selection process that takes into account which Zip codes applicants live in.

The Virginia case involved Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County.


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Boston's exam school policy does not take into account zip codes. It utilizes census tracts. And the issue is less about race and more that it rewards well resourced kids who happen to live in the same randomly drawn census tract as a housing project. So a low income kid living in an apartment by Andrews Square is treated the same as a Back Bay resident (because the projects are outside the Andrews Square census tract even if you can see them across the street) while a rich kid in the Ritz Towers (part of Chinatown tract) or the Charlestown Navy Yard (paired up with the projects in that tract) skates in easy.

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WBUR reported in September 2022:

It’s the second year of a new admissions policy at all three of Boston's selective exam schools, designed to make the student body more reflective of the city at large. That policy now seeks top-performing kids according to tiers based on census tracts, rather than plucking them off the top of citywide rankings of high grades and test scores.

At the Latin School, in particular, the result has been an increase of Black and Latino students among the incoming seventh grade class — more than there have been in at least a generation. The two groups combined comprised 43% of students invited to the school this fall, compared to 18% two years ago.

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