You can call it “selective admissions” or you can call it “segregation,” but the school board voted 4-3 to reinstate merit-based admissions at Lowell, with all four Yes votes being London Breed appointees.

The on-again, off-again Lowell High School lottery-based admission process is off again. The Chronicle reports that the SF school board voted 4-3 Wednesday night to restore merit-based admissions at Lowell High School in 2023, generally considered the most prestigious high school in the city, though one known for a lack of diversity when the now-reinstated selective admission process was in effect.

And as the SF Standard points out, all four board members who voted to reinstate the merit-based system “were appointed by Mayor London Breed.” They were the three members Breed appointed in March to replace the recalled board members, plus president Jenny Lam, whom Breed appointed in 2019, but did win re-election to the seat in 2020.  

“I believe in an academic magnet school,” Lam is quoted by the Standard as saying. “I support, at this time, criteria-based admissions. Lowell as a school is not perfect on its own, and neither is its admissions process. I’m fully committed in ensuring we move forward as a district.”

In a dissenting vote to continue the lottery process, board vice president Kevine Boggess questioned why the district has a public school “that is considered superior to others.”

The new lottery-bases system absolutely increased diversity at Lowell, but also brought alumni lawsuits over lack of advance meeting notice. In voting to reinstate merit-based admissions, the board bucked its own superintendent's recommendation. Though that superintendent, Dr. Vincent Matthews, is retiring in six days.

So Lowell High admissions will go back to being based on grade point average and standardized test scores. According to KPIX, "The application window for Lowell will open in early October and close in mid-December."

Related: Lowell High Principal Suddenly Quits, as Post-Recall Drama Continues to Rock SFUSD [SFist]

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