Quota quashed

29th November 1996 at 00:00
In a decision with far-reaching ramifications for racial integration in American schools, the nation's oldest public high school has dropped a policy of using racial quotas for admission.

Boston Latin School eliminated quotas to end a federal lawsuit brought by a 13-year-old white student who was kept out even though she scored higher marks in the entrance examination than 103 black and Hispanic applicants who were admitted (TES, April 26).

The Boston School Committee will consider other ways of maintaining a proportionate number of minorities. But it will no longer automatically reserve 35 per cent of places for them.

The judge overseeing the case had previously indicated that the quota violated the US constitution's guarantee of equal treatment for all citizens and ordered that the white girl be admitted to the school while waiting for the trial to begin. Now she will be allowed to stay.

A task force has proposed a complicated alternative to quotas that would admit about half the exam school hopefuls based on test scores and the other half by their racial group's percentage of the total applicant pool. That has already brought threats of another lawsuit, this time from Asians, who represent only a small percentage of the local population.

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