November 29, 2016

Stand with Edmund

By Wen Fa Attorney

Earlier this year, ten-year-old Edmund Lee, Jr., was reading about Rosa Parks, a great civil rights crusader in her time. Now Edmund is fighting for his own civil rights.

Edmund and his mother La’Shieka, with the help of PLF, are battling a discriminatory St. Louis transfer program that prohibits black students — and only black students — in St. Louis County from transferring to schools in the City. Today PLF filed Edmund’s reply brief in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Our brief requests what the Constitution demands: Equality for Edmund, equality for all.

Many of you know Edmund’s story. He is a bright, likable, and optimistic fourth-grader who, until recently, has attended Gateway Science Academy — an exceptional charter school in the City of St. Louis. The school was a great fit for Edmund, but the neighborhood was not.  Because the old neighborhood was filled with violence and crime, La’Shieka moved her family to a safer neighborhood in St. Louis County. La’Shieka then sought to keep Edmund at Gateway by using a St. Louis transfer policy that allowed county residents to attend city schools.

Here’s the shocker: although Edmund’s white, Hispanic, and Asian neighbors could all attend Gateway under the transfer policy, Edmund is prohibited from doing so because he is black. It is hard to imagine that a policy so blatantly inconsistent with the mandate of equal protection still exists today. That’s why PLF teamed up with La’Shieka and Edmund to vindicate their constitutional right to equal treatment.

That is why your support is vital.

By supporting PLF, you are supporting our clients. You are supporting Edmund’s reunification with lifelong friends and amazing teachers. You are supporting La’Shieka’s dream that, the next time Edmund asks her why racial discrimination is acceptable in St. Louis, she can show him the Eighth Circuit opinion in his favor and say “it’s not.” You are supporting justice for millions of Americans nationwide, because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

There are dozens of organizations that would love your support this Giving Tuesday. The difference with PLF is you’ll never have to wonder where we stand. PLF stands for equality. PLF stands for liberty. PLF stands with Edmund. We hope you will stand with us.

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E.L. v. Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation

As part of a decades-old desegregation lawsuit settlement in St. Louis, Missouri, the Voluntary Inderdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC) enacted a policy for city and county schools that prohibits African-American students who live in the county from transferring into magnet and charter schools within the St. Louis city limits. White students may transfer to these schools. African-American third grader Edmund Lee happily attended a charter school in the city and wanted to continue when his family moved out into the county. The policy prohibited his transfer because of his race. PLF represents Edmund and his mother, La’Shieka White, in a lawsuit challenging the policy as violating the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

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