Lawyers Argue the Discovery Program on Injunction Appeal

In an attempt to appeal an earlier district court preliminary injunction decision plaintiff lawyers argue that the Discovery Program is somehow racist.

It should be noted that…

  • …that the Discovery program was started in the 1960s and predates the SHSAT exam and Hecht-Calandra itself.
  • also, the Discovery program was reserved roughly 15% of offers in 1971.
  • and that it was the express legislative intent of Hecht-Calandra to give the mayor unlimited control over the level of offers in the discovery program.

A Single Score No More: Rethinking the Admissions System for New York City’s Specialized High Schools to Preserve Academic Excellence and Promote Student Diversity

This paper gets a few of its core premises wrong. The SHSAT exam does NOT strongly predict academic performance nor ability. Papers put its validity at 20%. Which basically means it’s only predicting 20% of what makes a student successful. GPA comes in at about 40% as a comparison.

Unlike Mayor de Blasio’s plan, this Note’s proposal would preserve the SHSAT, for evidence shows that it accurately and strongly predicts academic success in high school. However, unlike the present system which relies solely on the exam for admission, my proposal would evaluate students based on four factors measuring academic performance: (1) SHSAT score; (2) GPA; (3) rank in eighth grade graduating class; and (4) rank among eighth graders citywide.

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.