After already suing the district over changes to Lowell’s merit-based admissions system, a group of Lowell High alumni are seeking a court injunction against attempts to diversify the prestigious high school’s student body.
It’s fair to say that some of the Recall the SF School Board animus is because of a botched school renaming effort, while some of the sentiment is because of a bizarre $87 million lawsuit recently lodged (and tossed out) from board member Allison Collins. But do not underestimate the factor of the ending of merit-based admissions at Lowell High School, a move meant to diversify the student body at Lowell, but one that also enraged many Lowell parents to the point that they sued the school board in April in hopes of reinstating the former status quo.
Lowell High is probably the most prestigious high school in the San Francisco Unified School District, and also its least diverse, likely by an order of magnitude. As the Chronicle reported after the first lawsuit, Lowell’s student body at the time was more than 44% Asian, and less than 1.9% Black. (For comparison, the district’s students in general are 33% Asian and 7.8% Black) The board hoped to change this through lottery admissions, but as the Chronicle reports today, Lowell Alumni are seeking a court-ordered injunction so the change process cannot even start.
“Our suit aims to force the Board of Education to fully engage in a thoughtful and transparent public discussion regarding the best admissions policy for one of the nation’s most outstanding public high schools,” Lowell Alumni Association president Kate Lazarus said in a statement to the Chronicle. “The Board of Education promised exactly that type of open and inclusive process, but instead rushed through an admissions policy change with little opportunity for public notice or comment, much less any real input and analysis.”
When the school board changed the admissions process from merit-based to lottery last February, the Chronicle reported that the school board “circumvented its normal process to fast-track the Lowell decision, giving the public just one week to digest the proposal before a vote. Usually a policy change, especially a controversial one, would take at least two weeks and often much longer as it moved through committees.” Their new injunctions cites the Brown Act, which governs accessibility to government meetings, saying parents were deprived of their due process to comment.
We hate to reduce the Lowell saga to a racial conflict, but some element of that is certainly there. The injunction and lawsuit both name the Asian American Legal Foundation as plaintiffs, and meanwhile, anti-racism at the school in January was trolled with N-words and pornography. Lowell is probably San Francisco’s most prestigious public school, but somehow keeps managing to be its most controversial, too.
Image: Lowell High Alumni via Facebook