S.F. school board sued over controversial change to Lowell High School admissions policy | #Education

Opponents of the move to end merit-based admissions at the academically elite Lowell High School are suing the San Francisco school board, claiming it violated the state’s open meetings law when it voted in February to accept any student who wins a lottery to attend.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in San Francisco Superior Court, argues the board failed to properly list the resolution in the agenda, provide equal time for both sides during public comment and give the public adequate time to review the proposal before the vote. The district and Superintendent Vince Matthews are also named in the suit.

“This lawsuit is about improving education for all people,” said attorney Christine Linnenbach. “We want to be included not excluded from the process.”

Linnenbach represents the Friends of Lowell Foundation, the Lowell Alumni Association, the San Francisco Taxpayers Association and the Asian American Legal Foundation. She was joined by a number of attorneys, including former San Francisco supervisor, former state senator and retired judge Quentin Kopp, as well as Bradley Hertz and James Sutton.

While the Lowell Alumni Association favors academic-based admissions at the school, President Kate Lazarus said the suit “is not really about the substance of the ultimate admissions policy. It’s about a process that is fair and compliant with the law.”

In ending the merit-based admissions policy, the board cited a lack of diversity and pervasive systematic racism at Lowell as justification for the decision.

Data released in late March showed that Lowell is likely to see a shift in its racial and ethnic makeup next year, with Hispanic and Black students making up a larger share of the accepted class than the previous year, while the share of white and Asian American students fell.

This latest lawsuit is among several filed recently or threatened over controversial decisions made by the school board during the pandemic. The board and district were sued by the city attorney for failing to quickly and adequately reopen schools, although a judge recently ruled in the district’s favor.

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