Saturday, October 18, 2014

UES Admissions

Admissions Policy of U.C.L.A. Lab School Faces Legal Fight

By The New York Times
Published: October 18, 1995

A 4-year-old girl from an affluent family has become the unlikely centerpiece of a legal battle over admissions to a popular public elementary school run by the University of California at Los Angeles and attended by Hollywood children. The girl's parents, both lawyers, say the school should stop using race as a basis for admission and instead strive to diversify strictly by income and the education level of the parents.

The girl, Keeley Tatsuyo Hunter, was denied admission to the Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School, where she had applied as a mixed-race student. The school, used as a laboratory by U.C.L.A.'s Graduate School of Education, selects about 50 students a year on the basis of race and income to match California's public school population. This fall, 39 percent of the new students are white, 22 percent are of Hispanic origin, 17 percent are mixed-race, 13 percent black and 9 percent Asian-American.

But some of those students are admitted under special slots -- 6 this year; in previous years up to 20 -- for the children of the rich and famous. Among those who have attended the school are the children of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tom Hanks, Sally Field and Debbie Allen.
The girl's parents, Gina F. Brandt and James K. T. Hunter, are suing the University of California Board of Regents, contending that the elementary school deceives parents by telling them that it selects students randomly, when in practice it gives preference to the children of celebrities and sorts out the other children by a complicated formula of race and income.

"U.C.L.A.'s affirmative action policy is a preferential system that gives special privileges to the rich and famous," said Ms. Brandt, herself an alumna of the school.

Judge David V. Kenyon of the Federal District Court in Los Angeles has ordered the school to admit Keeley pending resolution of the lawsuit, which is expected to go to trial early next year.
About five slots are reserved for the children of U.C.L.A. faculty members for "recruitment and retention purposes," and others -- up to 20, depending on applications -- are reserved for the children of "wealthy and politically connected" parents for "development purposes," according to the school's director, Deborah Stipek. Siblings of enrolled students are given preference.
The remaining students are then sorted by racial and ethnic background and family income and, within each group, are randomly selected.

Mr. Hunter says his daughter had little chance of getting into the school under this policy. Keeley, who is one-quarter Asian and three-quarters white, was classified as mixed-race, a category for which the school allotted eight spaces.

Mr. Hunter and his wife want the school to base all admissions on income -- one-third from families making less than $35,000 a year, one-third earning from $35,000 to $120,000, and the remaining one-third earning more than $120,000. The Hollywood children would be categorized in the top tier, rather than under separate slots. In addition, the couple want the school to base admissions partly on parental education -- high school, college and post-graduate work.

Because Ms. Brandt and Mr. Hunter earn more than $120,000 a year, income-based preferences would appear to hurt rather than help their daughter, but they say they have a higher goal in mind. "It's a matter of fairness," Mr. Hunter said. "Publicly funded institutions should not have quotas or special admits."

The U.C.L.A. elementary school is known throughout California for its work in developing and assessing curriculums and instruction techniques for the state's public schools.
School officials began using race and ethnicity as admission criteria four years ago to assemble a group of students reflecting California's public school population. While the officials concede that this process amounts to a quota system, they say the process is designed to obtain a research population, not redress past discrimination, as other preference systems are intended to do.
"Mr. Hunter's lawsuit attacks the issue of racial quotas," said Joseph Mandel, U.C.L.A.'s vice chancellor for legal affairs. "It's a colorful argument, but the use of racial categories based on research needs is akin to the School of Medicine at U.C.L.A. doing sickle cell research and selecting subjects who are African-American."

Mr. Mandel dismisses the lawsuit as just a case of sour grapes. "A lot of people from the affluent, white Westside community had their hopes dashed, and they were upset with that," he said.
The school, founded in 1882, is one of 114 laboratory schools in the nation, and one of several that uses race-based admission criteria, said John R. Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Laboratory Schools. "The courts pretty clearly go along with the laboratory schools as long as they have a clearly defined policy," he added.

While the University of California Board of Regents plans to dismantle affirmative action at the nine-campus state university system beginning in 1997, the Regents say the policy change does not affect the U.C.L.A. elementary school.