Pamela A. MacLean, National Law Journal, March 19, 2009
California’s controversial 1996 voter initiative, banning affirmative action in education, public hiring or contracting, known as Proposition 209, is again under court scrutiny.
On March 17 a state appeals court approved the Berkeley school district’s voluntary integration plan, concluding that it’s [sic] unique plan to consider the racial makeup of a neighborhood, rather than individual students, does not violate the terms of Prop. 209.
The decision in the Berkeley case is the first time a state appellate court has approved a school district integration plan since voters approved Prop. 209 nearly 13 years ago. American Civil Rights Foundation v. Berkeley Unified School Dist., A121137 (Calif. 1st Dist. Court of Appeal)
“This is an important victory for those who understand the importance of a diverse learning environment and believe that opportunity should be equally afforded to all,” according to John Payton, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York, in a prepared statement.
Berkeley devised an integration point system that rated small neighborhood areas in the 9,000-student district by racial composition, parents’ income and education levels. The district establishes scores for each neighborhood and makes enrollment decisions based on the ratings. But it does not take into account the race of an individual student in making assignments.