Beverly Hills Addresses Diversity Issue

Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2007

Under pressure from civil rights groups, the head of Beverly Hills schools agreed Thursday to extend the application deadline for the district’s diversity permit program in hopes of increasing the number of Latino and African American students who seek to enroll.

The decision to push forward the deadline to April 26 came at a morning meeting between Beverly Hills Unified School District Supt. Kari McVeigh, activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson and representatives from several groups including the NAACP and the Youth Advocacy Coalition.

For nearly 40 years, high-performing Beverly Hills High School has aimed to increase its relatively low number of minorities by selecting students from the Los Angeles Unified School District to enroll on so-called diversity permits.

But a Times story earlier this month found that the overwhelming majority of the 159 students currently enrolled on the permitsnearly seven out of 10are high-performing Asian students, most of whom attended two of the 12 Los Angeles middle schools that participate in the permit program.

After the story, Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, criticized Beverly Hills school officials for not more aggressively recruiting black and Latino students.

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Until this year, selections had been based on, among other factors, test scores, grades and writing samples. Going forward, however, McVeigh said school officials will choose randomly from students who complete applications.

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