Press Release

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.

Case Attorneys

Oliver J. Dunford


Oliver Dunford joined PLF’s office in Sacramento in March 2017. He litigates across the country to defend and advance individual liberty and the rule of law. Oliver’s cases involve the … ›

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Wen Fa


Wen Fa is an attorney at PLF’s national headquarters. He has litigated numerous direct-rep cases dealing with private property, equality under the law, school choice, economic liberty, and the First … ›

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Joshua P. Thompson

Senior Attorney

Joshua Thompson joined Pacific Legal Foundation in August 2007. He primarily litigates cases involving equality under the law, economic liberty, school choice, and coastal land rights. Joshua was raised in … ›

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Case Commentary

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African-American student moves forward with challenge to race-based admissions in St. Louis schools

In the second decade of the 21st century, can an African-American student still be turned away from a public school because of his or her skin color?

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By Wen Fa

Oral argument in Edmund's challenge to discriminatory St. Louis policy

On Wednesday, my colleague Joshua Thompson argued on behalf of our client Edmund Lee, Jr, as Edmund fights to end discrimination in St Louis The Eighth Circuit panel (Judges Beam, Benton, and Colloton) were sympathetic to our argument that a policy which forbids black students in St Louis county from attending the same schools as their white neighbors discriminates on the basis of race As Judge Colloton asked defendant VICC’s counsel when VICC’s counsel attempted to justify VICC’s race-based transfer program, “so VICC does want to discriminate on race?!”

The judges also discussed whether Edmund had standing to sue In other words, whether Edmund has a personal stake in

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By Joshua P. Thompson

Oral argument in Edmund's lawsuit against discriminatory St. Louis policy

This upcoming Wednesday, April 5, Wencong Fa and I will be in St Louis for oral argument in EL v Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation We will be representing Edmund Lee and his mother La’Shieka White in their quest to strike down a St Louis policy that prohibits African-American children from attending magnet and charter schools in the City of St Louis For more on this case please visit our casepage And if you are in the St Louis area on Wednesday, please come and Stand With Edmund  Argument is at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit at 9 am  The courthouse is located

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