Lawsuit alleges Board’s resolution to end merit-based admissions at Lowell violated California law
SAN FRANCISCO – April 24, 2021 – (Newswire.com)
The Friends of Lowell Foundation yesterday sued the San Francisco Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) for violating the Brown Act in its February 9 decision to permanently end merit-based admissions at Lowell High School.
The Friends of Lowell is joined by the Lowell Alumni Association, the San Francisco Taxpayers Association and the Asian American Legal Foundation as co-plaintiffs. The suit was filed by James Sutton and Brad Hertz of the Sutton Law Firm and San Francisco attorney Christine Linnenbach.
The complaint, filed in California Superior Court, County of San Francisco, concerns the Board’s deeply flawed process for adopting Resolution 212-2A1, which replaced Lowell’s historic academic merit-based admissions policy with a lottery. According to the lawsuit, the Board adopted the resolution with inadequate public notice, absent any SFUSD staff analysis or review, without a fair or reasonable opportunity for community input, and in violation of the SFUSD’s own procedures.
The lawsuit asks the court to vacate Resolution 212-2A1 because of these violations of the state’s Ralph M. Brown Act, which regulates public access to meetings of California local government agencies.
“The Board of Education failed to meet its basic obligations as a public body, and did not act to rectify its errors within 30 days of formal notice as required by state law,” said Linnenbach. “The process was flawed from the outset and is predicated not on one minor technicality, but on the Board’s multiple, repeated violations of the State Constitution and State Law that are codified in the Board’s express rules and procedure.”
A court ruling to strike down Resolution 212-2A1 actually benefits the SFUSD, stated Friends of Lowell President Lisa Li Moye. “Ending academic merit-based admissions at Lowell was an ill-conceived error,” Moye said. “This resolution, if allowed to stand, will end an institution that has provided opportunities to generations of San Francisco children, and will drive thousands of families to seek private-school or suburban educational options. The court can rectify the Board of Education’s error and give the SFUSD a chance to mitigate both a talent and revenue drain.”
Moye noted that the Friends of Lowell Foundation exists to expand learning opportunities for academically oriented students throughout San Francisco. “We want to create more opportunity for all students and families in the District, rather than eliminate good options thoughtlessly,” Moye said. “The sooner that the Board of Education stops attacking Lowell, the sooner we can create programs that actually help students of every background access educational opportunity and achieve academic success.”
“The San Francisco school board made a major blunder in voting to change Lowell High School’s merit-based admission policies to a lottery,” said Carol Kocivar, a parent of two Lowell graduates and a past chair of the Lowell Admission Committee that developed a diversity-focused Lowell admission policy. “It fell into the trap of making a decision too quickly — and not looking at all the facts. It ignored one of the most important roles of school governance: engage the community in decisions before rushing to judgment.”
ABOUT THE FRIENDS OF LOWELL FOUNDATION
The Friends of Lowell Foundation is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status pending formed in 2021 to make academic merit-based public education available to as many children in San Francisco as possible. More information and donation opportunities can be found at www.friendsoflowell.org and www.facebook.com/friendsoflowell.
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Friends of Lowell Foundation Sues San Francisco Board of Education to Reverse Admissions Decision