Lowell High supporters threaten to sue the S.F. school board over plans to end merit-based admissions | #Education

Some supporters of San Francisco’s merit-based Lowell High School are demanding that the Board of Education reverse plans to admit students by lottery, and say they will sue if necessary.

In a 14-page letter to the board and its president, Gabriela López, an attorney hired by “members of the Lowell community and other supporters of Lowell,” called the board’s plan racist against Asian American students, who are more than half of the school’s student body.

“For many years, Board members have falsely attacked Lowell’s merit-based admissions as racist… despite the fact that more than half of Lowell’s students are members of communities of color,” attorney Harmeet Dhillon wrote on March 18, adding that her clients are prepared to sue to enjoin the board from going ahead with its plan.

Dhillon said the board plan would be “an unconstitutional and illegal program designed to disenfranchise hardworking students” and would “decrease the number of Asian students admitted to Lowell.”

López told The Chronicle Saturday night that she had not seen the letter and would not comment until she had a chance to review it.

The San Francisco Board of Education voted 5-2 in February to replace the merit-based admissions system — used at the school for more than a century — with a lottery. Instead of selecting students based on academic performance, all students would have a chance to attend the school.

Board members said the change to the admissions system was urgently needed, although it won’t go into effect until fall 2022. The board had already suspended Lowell’s merit-based admission for this year because of a lack of grades and test scores amid the pandemic.

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