Dave Collins, Sacramento Bee, February 15, 2018
Seven African-American and Hispanic families sued Connecticut and Hartford officials on Thursday, saying race-based student quotas at high-performing city magnet schools are unconstitutional and have kept their children from attending.
Eight parents from Hartford filed the lawsuit in federal court on behalf of their 19 children. The lawsuit says hundreds of student seats in the 21 magnet schools are unfilled because too few white children are enrolled. The schools are limited to 75 percent minority student enrollment under the landmark Sheff versus O’Neill school desegregation case in state court.
The families say their children have not been able to get into the magnet schools under a lottery system and have been forced to attend low-performing, more segregated schools. The lawsuit also alleges the lottery system is unfair because it favors white and Asian students. They’re seeking an end to the quota so more city children can attend the schools.
The lawsuit was filed with the help of the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit legal group that advocates for individuals’ rights and limited government.
Joshua Thompson, a senior attorney with the foundation, said the U.S. Supreme Court has held for 40 years that racial quotas are unconstitutional. He said his group is prepared to take the case to the nation’s highest court if need be.