Posted on March 11, 2021

New York City School Segregation Perpetuates Racism, Lawsuit Contends

Joseph Ax, Reuters, March 9, 2021

A group of New York City students filed a sweeping lawsuit on Tuesday that accuses the United States’ largest public school system of perpetuating racism via a flawed admissions process for selective programs that favors white students.

The lawsuit in state court in Manhattan argues that a “rigged system” begins sorting children academically when they are as young as 4 years old, using criteria that disproportionately benefit more affluent, white students.

As a result, minority students are often denied an opportunity to gain access to more selective programs, from elementary to high school, and are instead relegated to failing schools that exacerbate existing inequities, the lawsuit contends.

The complaint asks a judge to order the school system to eliminate its current admissions screening process for intensely competitive selective programs, including gifted and talented programs and more academically rigorous middle and high schools.

“Racism thrives in New York City through its school system,” Mark Rosenbaum of the pro bono law firm Public Counsel said at a news conference. {snip}

Rosenbaum described the case as “the first lawsuit of its kind in the nation: to secure for the children of New York City the constitutional right to an anti-racist education as an integral part of a sound and basic education.”


In addition to admissions criteria, the lawsuit also faults the school system’s curriculum, arguing that students of color learn that “civilization is equated with whiteness” and that history is taught from a Eurocentric point of view.

While the school system is majority Black and Latino, most teachers and administrators are white, the lawsuit notes.