CIR sues to stop NYC schools race discrimination

Test prep program excludes Asian, white students

Washington, D.C.: — The Center for Individual Rights filed a class action lawsuit today against the New York City Department of Education challenging the Department’s policy of excluding Asian American and white students from a test preparation course because of their race. CIR is representing three Chinese American parents in Districts 20 and 21 (Brooklyn) whose children were denied admission to the City’s “Specialized High School Institute,” a fifteen-month course designed to prepare students to take the admissions exam for such elite New York schools as Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School, Brooklyn Technical High School, and the Bronx High School of Science.

The lawsuit seeks to open the course to students regardless of race and seeks monetary damages for hundreds of white and Asian students who were forced to pay as much as $2,000 for a private test preparation course as a result of the City’s illegal racial exclusion.

CIR is a public interest law firm that has challenged other unconstitutional racial preferences in schools and colleges. Most recently it successfully challenged a minorities-only summer journalism workshop jointly sponsored by the Dow Jones News Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University. As in the Dow Jones program, the Department has a policy of restricting its test preparation program to students of certain races.

White and Asian students are prevented from even applying to the program. One parent, Stanley Ng (pron. “Ing”) was denied an application by his daughter’s junior high school guidance counselor. When Ng contacted the Office of Teaching and Learning in November 2006, an official told him the program was not open to white or Asian applicants.

Together with Ng, CIR is representing two other Chinese American parents, Margaret Ching and Dennis Chen, both of whom have children who were prevented from participating in the examination prep course because of their race. In addition, CIR is representing a parents’ organization called Parents Against Discrimination, which Mr. Ng formed, consisting of parents of white or Asian children who hope to participate in the preparatory course once it is opened to students regardless of race.

CIR President Terry Pell said, “The day is past when school officials can automatically exclude students from desirable programs solely because of the color of their skin. The Supreme Court has made it clear that school officials may never mechanically exclude students from any program because of one feature and one feature only, namely their race.”