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Constitutional Law Keyed to Choper
Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist.
Citation:551 U.S. 701, 127 S.Ct. 2738, 168 L.Ed.2d 508 (2007)
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The Seattle School District was never officially segregated by law. In 1998, the district adopted the plan at issue for assigning students to its 10 high schools. The plan allows incoming 9th graders to choose from among any of the district’s high schools, ranking however many schools they wish in order of preference. If too many students list the same school as their first choice, the district employs a series of “tiebreakers” to determine who will fill the open slots at the oversubscribed school. The first tiebreaker selects for admission students who have a sibling currently enrolled in the chosen school. The next tiebreaker depends on the racial composition of the particular school and race of the individual student. This second tiebreaker comes into play if a school’s enrollment deviates by more than 10% from the district’s overall balance of approximately 41% white and 59% nonwhite students.
Jefferson County Public Schools operates the public school system in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2001, Jefferson County adopted the voluntary student assignment plan at issue. That plan requires all nonmagnet schools to maintain a minimum black enrollment of 15% and a maximum black enrollment of 50%. The plan covers 97,000 students, roughly 34% of whom are black and the remaining 66% of whom are mostly white. The requirements of this plan sometimes blocks initial assignments and transfers that would otherwise occur.
Parents Involved in Community Schools (Parents Involved) brought suit challenging these racial classification systems to determine school enrollment, arguing that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
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