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Affirmative Action

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Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board

Hearing date: To be announced

At issue: What role affirmative action should play in assigning students to competitive spots in elementary and secondary schools.

The cases and arguments: Separate appeals to be argued in tandem are from Kentucky and Washington state. In Kentucky, Jefferson County had been under a federal court mandate for decades to desegregate its schools. The mandate ended, and five years ago the school district began a student assignment plan that includes race guidelines. Washington's highest court ruled a school district's student assignment plan that takes race into account as one factor does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Parents opposed to the guidelines say they penalize white students. Schools say a diverse student body is a "compelling state interest."

The impact: A ruling could help clarify when and to what lengths state and local officials can go to promote diversity in K-12 education. Every student in the nation's 95,000 school districts could be affected.


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