July 25, 2016

PLF appeals in challenge to race-based transfer restrictions

St. Louis, Missouri;  July 25, 2016: Pacific Legal Foundation has filed a notice of appeal with the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in PLF’s challenge to the St. Louis area’s discriminatory, race-based restrictions on K-12 interdistrict student transfers and school choice.

PLF attorneys represent La’Shieka White, whose nine-year-old son, Edmund, is being barred from attending the school of his choice — simply because he is black.

The lawsuit targets race-based restrictions imposed by St. Louis-area schools that prohibit African-American students who reside in the suburbs, such as Edmund, from transferring to public schools in the City of St. Louis — while permitting other suburban students to apply for such transfers.

PLF’s filing of a notice of appeal comes after a federal district court dismissed Edmund’s case, holding that he lacked standing to bring his claim, and that the discriminatory transfer restrictions are immune from challenge in federal court.

“We are determined to press forward with this important civil rights case, potentially all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary,” said PLF Principal Attorney Joshua P. Thompson.  “We believe the trial court was clearly wrong on the law.  Just as important, we are clearly right on the underlying principles of justice and equal opportunity that are at stake.  No school official can be allowed to deny transfers or school-choice opportunities based simply on a student’s skin color.”

“We are going to keep going in this lawsuit, we have to keep going, because this case is so important for everyone’s rights,” said Ms. White.  “Nobody should have to explain to their child that they can’t go to their school of choice because of their color.”

The restrictions — described as “outrageous” by PLF — were first adopted decades ago as part of a consent decree governing court-ordered integration.  However, federal courts have since ended their jurisdiction over the area’s schools.

Until recently, Ms. White lived in the City of St. Louis, where Edmund has attended Gateway Science Academy, a charter school in south St. Louis.  The family has now moved to Maryland Heights, in suburban St. Louis County, but would like to continue sending Edmund to Gateway.  However, they are barred from doing so because the transfer program allows only non-black students in the suburbs to transfer to public schools in the city.

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation is a watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, individual rights, equal protection, and educational choice, in courts nationwide.  PLF represents all clients without charging attorneys’ fees.

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