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Group Claims Berkeley School District Discriminates


A lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Berkeley, Calif., Unified School District claims the district is violating Proposition 209, the state’s ban on racial preferences.

The Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation is challenging the Elementary Student Assignment Plan for Berkeley Elementary Schools as well as the admissions policy for Berkeley High School’s Small Schools and Academic Programs and admissions to Berkeley High School’s AP Pathways Project.

“These plans and policies use students’ skin color to help determine how individual students will be treated,” foundation attorney Paul J. Beard II said in a statement.

Berkeley schools superintendent Dr. Michele Lawrence says the district does not use race in its policies, relying instead on students’ geographic location.

“The Berkeley school district stands very firm and committed to diversity, and we think this lawsuit is ill-conceived and diverts from our primary mission of providing a quality education for public school children,” she says.

The legal group unsuccessfully sued the district in 2003, challenging that its desegregation plan violated the ban on racial preferences.

An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled the desegregation plan was not prohibited under Proposition 209.

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— Associated Press

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