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California High Court Won’t Review Berkeley Diversity Plan

By Mark Walsh — June 12, 2009 1 min read
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The California Supreme Court this week declined to hear a challenge to a race-conscious student assignment plan adopted by the Berkeley Unified School District.

The state’s highest court on June 10 denied without dissent an appeal of a lower-court decision upholding the Berkeley plan. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the court’s action makes the ruling by a three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal binding throughout the state.

I blogged here about the March 17 ruling by the state appellate court in American Civil Rights Foundation v. Berkeley Unified School District.

Berkeley’s plan involves dividing up the district into planning areas that receive different “diversity” ratings, based on average household income, education level of adults, and the proportion of minority group members residing in the area.

Every student from a given planning area receives the same diversity score, regardless of the individual’s race or background. The diversity scores can come into play when assigning students to schools as the district seeks to achieve certain diversity goals.

The plan was challenged under Proposition 209, the 1996 California ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to prohibit the state and local governments from granting racial preferences “to any individual or group.”

The appellate court had ruled that the Berkeley plan does not grant preferences based on an individual’s race, and thus does not violate the state constitutional provision.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which helped defend the plan, has this news release about the California Supreme Court’s action.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.