Affirmative Action Programs Upheld in Boston Public Schools

U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that the Boston School Committee has a “compelling interest” to assemble a diverse student body and thus may consider race when making admissions decisions at public schools there.

Ninth-grade student Sarah Wessman sued the prestigious Boston Latin School, claiming that she was denied admission because she is white. The school’s current admission policies state that half of its admissions offers are granted based solely on test scores and grades. The remaining half are weighted, based on race. For example, if 20% percent of the students in the final pool of applicants were of a certain race, then 20% of those admitted must be of that same race. The policy does not reserve a specific number of seats for certain racial groups.

Boston schools Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant said that he feels it is extremely important for students to experience diversity through real life experiences. Wessman plans to appeal the decision.


AP - May 29, 1998

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