Judge: Boston exam schools admissions policy ‘race-neutral’

U.S. Supreme Court

A federal judge has upheld a temporary admissions policy at Boston’s elite exam high schools, ruling against a parents group that said in a lawsuit it discriminated against white students and those of Asian descent.

“This court finds and rules that the plan is race-neutral, and that neither the factors used nor the goal of greater diversity qualify as a racial classification,” U.S. District Judge William Young in Boston wrote in the ruling released Thursday night. The ruling applies only to the current exam cycle.

The Boston School Committee last fall temporarily dropped the entrance exam for Boston Latin School, Boston Latin Academy and the O’Bryant School of Math and Science because it was not safe to hold exams in-person during the pandemic.

Instead, the committee used student performance and ZIP code to weigh admission.

A group called the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence, filed a lawsuit in February on behalf of 14 white and Asian applicants in which it called the new policy “wholly irrational.”

William Hurd, an attorney for the coalition, said there will be an appeal.

“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision,” Hurd said in a statement.

The Boston Public Schools in a statement said its goal has always been to “ensure a safe, fair, and equitable exam school admissions process.”

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