Attorney General Bonta Files Amicus Brief in Defense of School Policy Aimed at Reducing Barriers to Education for Underrepresented Students

Monday, September 12, 2022
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Legal filing builds on ongoing nationwide effort to increase access to a quality education for all students regardless of race or socioeconomic background

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced joining a coalition of 16 attorneys general in an amicus brief in support of the City of Boston’s interim race-neutral admissions policy aimed at reducing barriers to a quality education for underrepresented student groups. In the friend-of-the-court brief, the coalition urges the appellate court to uphold the district court’s ruling — protecting the ability of states to implement effective, inclusive policies for all individuals, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or background — and highlights the states’ interest in eradicating discrimination in all its forms.

“Equitable access to education is critical for the well-being of our students and our communities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “We can’t allow the legacy of historical discrimination to perpetuate a two-tiered society of the haves and have-nots. Education is the gateway to the American Dream. I urge the appellate court to uphold Boston’s admissions policy. It’s past time for every child to have a fair shot at getting ahead.”

In 2020, the Boston School Committee voted to reform its admissions policies for the city’s three selective exam schools and instituted an interim race-neutral admissions policy aimed at promoting equitable, citywide access. The schools are considered the most prestigious and highest performing public schools within the city and serve as important gateway to future academic and professional opportunities for the district’s students. The interim admissions policy eliminated a standardized test component and instead relied solely on student grade point averages. To ensure that students in all of the city's communities had an opportunity to attend, it allocated some seats at the selective schools across the city to the students with the highest grade point average in each zip code. Prior to the changes, which were implemented in 2020 partially in response the pandemic, Black and Latino students in particular were starkly underrepresented in admissions as compared to the city’s overall demographic composition. Despite its early success, the policy came under attack and, if the plaintiffs are able to prevail, an adverse ruling in the case threatens to undermine a broad range of race-neutral efforts aimed at tackling discrimination and increasing equal access to a quality education across the nation. The amicus builds on a concerted, ongoing nationwide effort to address ongoing discrimination and increase access to a quality education for all students regardless of race or socioeconomic background.

In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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