CIR sues to end NYC magnet school race quota

Mark Twain limits minorities to boost white percentage

Washington, D.C.: The Center for Individual Rights today will file a class action lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education challenging the use of separate, lower admissions standards for white students at prestigious Mark Twain Intermediate School in order to boost the number of white students at the school. In addition, CIR will move to intervene in a more-than-thirty year old desegregation lawsuit to challenge a decree that it expects the New York officials will rely upon to justify the continued use of racial quotas at Mark Twain.

CIR represents Anjan Rau and Kanchan Katapadi, Asian Indian parents of three children. Their eldest child, Nikita Rau, was denied admission to Mark Twain last year. Nikita scored 79 on the entrance evaluation for “instrumental music talent.” White students were admitted that year with scores as low as 77. Nikita and other minority students were required to score 84.4 or better to be admitted.

The topsy-turvy quota system began with a 1974 desegregation lawsuit, Hart v. Community School of Brooklyn, pursuant to which the school district was ordered to admit classes to Mark Twain consisting of specified percentages of minority and white students. Population shifts over the intervening years have boosted the number of minority residents in the district, so that the school nowlimits the number of minority students who can attend the school.

Admission to Mark Twain is competitive and is determined by a series of tests applicants take during the fifth grade. Mark Twain uses different cut-off scores in determining admission, depending on an applicantís race or ethnicity in order to racially balance its incoming classes to be 60% white and only 40% minority.

School officials have not sought to rescind the quota even though it deprives qualified minority students of a place at the school for no reason other than race. The problem was widely publicized last summer in articles in the New York Post, but school officials inexplicably have taken no action to correct the problem.

CIR President Terence Pell said, “This is an especially egregious example of the carelessness with which school officials routinely sort and classify students by race in America today. School officials continue to enforce racial set-asides, quotas and separate lower cut-off scores that serve only to frustrate education.”

The Center for Individual Rights is being assisted in the case by the national law firm of Jones Day and by the Law Offices of Rosmarie Arnold. Both firms are donating their time pro bono.

The Center for Individual Rights is a public interest law firm that has challenged other unconstitutional racial preferences in schools and colleges. Most recently it sued the New York Department of Education challenging its policy of excluding Asian and white students from applying for a fifteen month program designed to prepare students to apply to the Cityís elite examination schools.