Seven NYC Students Didn’t Get Seats in Elite Schools, So They Asked State for Help

Another attack on NYC’s specialized high school diversity efforts. This is representing attorney Claude M. Millman’s ( Bronx Science ’81 Alumni ) second legal action against the SHSAT reform that I know of.

Previously he represented a coalition of anti-reform protesters in another SHSAT related matter in 2014.

Referring to 2014 Legal Action

I believe but haven’t confirmed that this filing was done through the state education department’s appeals process: Appeals or Petitions to Commissioner of Education. Maybe SHSAT reform supporters should have been filing petitions all along?…

Brooklyn: Action Filed Over School Admissions

The first legal challenge against Hecht-Calandra was launched in 1974. Only 3 years after the law was passed. Since then there’s been a number of legal actions.

Here’s one from 2007.

A public-interest law firm in Washington filed a class-action lawsuit against the New York City Education Department yesterday, charging that a program created to increase the number of black and Hispanic students in the city’s elite specialized high schools violates the Constitution by excluding whites and Asians. The law firm, the Center for Individual Rights, filed the suit in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on behalf of three Chinese-American parents whose children were denied admission to the Specialized High School Institute, which prepares students for the test determining admission to schools like Stuyvesant and the Bronx High School of Science. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/20/nyregion/20mbrfs-admissions.html

SHSI focused on city schools in which students from low-income households, most of whom were Black and Latinx, were overrepresented.

McAuliffe vs. NYC Pretrial Conference Transcript

March 7th, 2019

With all the discussion of “disparate impact” I don’t understand why Sandoval Decision doesn’t apply.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_v._Sandoval

McCauliffe 2018 Case: MOTION for Preliminary Injunction

The judge’s motion denying a preliminary injunction which attempted to block scheduled changes to the Discovery program.

You can find most case documents here https://shsatsunset.org/christa-mcauliffe-intermediate-school-pto-inc-et-al-v-de-blasio-et-al/

The 40-page document also contains lots of findings of fact that should be a useful legal overview.

Here are some notes…

As a preliminary matter, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have failed to show that the balance of hardships tips decidedly in their favor. The PTO, which represents parents at a school no longer eligible for participation in the Discovery program because it has an ENI of less than 60%, arguably suffers the most hardship from the new changes.

Challengers of Affirmative Action Have a New Target: New York City’s Elite High Schools


This week, the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative, libertarian-leaning law firm that has a history of challenging affirmative action policies, filed the first lawsuit against his admissions reform proposal, which he announced this summer.


But the suit does not take on the part of Mr. de Blasio’s proposal that has provoked the most controversy: a plan that would entirely eliminate the exam that is currently the sole means of admission into the city’s elite specialized high schools. The mayor wants to replace the test with a system that guarantees seats to top performers at each of the city’s middle schools, which would guarantee that the schools accept many more black and Hispanic students.

NAACP 2012 Case: New York City Specialized High School Complaint

In school districts across the nation, talented African Americans and other students of color are denied a fair opportunity to gain access to the life-changing educational experiences provided by specialized schools for high-achieving students and gifted/talented education programs.  As a result, elite public schools and programs, which provide key pathways to college and then to leadership locally, regionally, and nationally, are among the most segregated.

In too many school districts, these racial disparities result in large part from admissions policies that rely too heavily or even exclusively on standardized tests, even though the three leading organizations in the area of educational test measurement—the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education—have concluded that a high-stakes decision with a major impact on a student’s educational opportunities, such as admission to a specialized or gifted/talented program, should not turn on the results of a single test. 

Parents Mull Suit Over City Plan to Boost Diversity at Elite Schools

Vito LaBella, president of the Christa McAuliffe Parent Teacher Organization, said that if parents decide to forge ahead, the federal suit would challenge this set-aside plan. “It’s discriminatory,” he said. “I do believe our children would no longer be allowed to partake in Discovery.”

Currently the small Discovery program is available to disadvantaged applicants citywide. The mayor says he can make this change because the 1971 law on admissions at these high schools allows for a Discovery program of some sort.