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Chinese-American Parents in S.F. Win Round in Court

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Chinese-American parents in San Francisco have won the first skirmish in their battle to overturn school-desegregation policies that they say discriminate against their children.

U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick late last month rejected assertions by the San Francisco Unified School District and the local office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that the court had already dealt with the legal issues raised in the lawsuit when it approved a 1983 desegregation agreement between the district and the naacp.

Judge Orrick said in his ruling that "conditions have changed since the consent decree was approved."

Moreover, the judge said, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit differ from the original NAACP plaintiffs in that they "intend to focus on the operation and effects of the consent decree, and not whether the [school district] is segregated."

In January, a group of Chinese-American parents sued the district, charging that the ethnic-enrollment quotas contained in the 1983 consent decree discriminate against children of Chinese descent, who, due to their relatively large numbers, have a more difficult time finding open slots in the schools of their choice.

The lawsuit also alleges that the district's academically competitive Lowell High School unfairly asks such children to meet higher admissions standards than any other racial or ethnic group in an effort to limit the enrollment of students of Chinese descent. (See Education Week, April 5, 1995.)

The suit argues that the district has already remedied its past racial segregation and that its continued use of enrollment quotas amounts to racial discrimination and violates the plaintiffs' constitutional right to equal protection under the law.

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