New York City schools are some of the most segregated in the country. In May 2019, a diverse group of public school students and local community-based organizations asked a federal court to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit to defend a city program designed to improve racial and economic equity in admissions to New York City’s eight elite public high schools.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and LatinoJustice PRLDEF filed a motion to intervene in the federal lawsuit Christa McAuliffe Intermediate School PTO v. Bill de Blasio on behalf of Teens Take Charge – a public-school student led organization, the Hispanic Federation, Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM), the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF), and multiple black and Latinx public school students and their families. The motion asks the court to allow these families and organizations to join the lawsuit in order to defend the modest steps taken by New York City to increase access for disadvantaged students to New York City’s most competitive and highly-regarded public high schools, and redress the systemic racial exclusion caused by the deeply flawed, test-only admissions policy.
The McAuliffe lawsuit seeks to challenge the expansion of a program designed to expand access to the Specialized High Schools, a group of selective public schools often considered to be the most desirable in the City. The Discovery Program enables high-achieving students from low-income communities who attend middle schools with high economic need and score just below the standardized test cutoff to earn admission to the Specialized High Schools after completing a summer preparation session.
The civil rights organizations filed to intervene on behalf of students, parents and community groups to help defend the expansion of the Discovery Program as a modest, but important, step towards promoting diversity and equality in all our public schools.