Press Release

Video showcases St. Louis mother’s battle to prevent discrimination in school choice for her son

St. Louis, Missouri;  May 4, 2016: A new Pacific Legal Foundation video describes the legal battle a mother has undertaken to challenge the St. Louis schools’ race-based transfer policy that blocks her son from attending the school of his choice because he is black.

La’Shieka White is represented by PLF in a lawsuit against the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation that was created to administer the St. Louis Student Transfer Program.  According to the program, only students who are not African-American are eligible to transfer from St. Louis County into a school located in the City of St. Louis.

In the new video, La’Shieka explains that her third-grade son, Edmund, who is excelling at Gateway Science Academy, cannot transfer to the school after she moved into a new house in St. Louis County.

“With us living in our new house, if our neighbor wanted to send their son to Gateway Science Academy, they could if they were any other race and, once I read that, I knew it was discrimination,” La’Shieka said.  “How do you be a black family and explain to your child how to still treat everyone equal if he is not being treated fairly?  To face something like that is terrible.”

PLF’s lawsuit argues that the race-based transfer policy violates the Equal Protection Clause.

“How could a law this blatantly unconstitutional exist?” asked PLF Principal Attorney Joshua P. Thompson, who filed the lawsuit.  “It results from a desegregation order of the St. Louis schools that dates back to the 70s and 80s.  The St. Louis schools were heavily segregated and to desegregate those schools, the school districts encouraged white kids to transfer into the city schools and black kids to transfer to the county.  That policy doesn’t make any sense in Edmund’s case.”

Thompson explains that Edmund’s school is predominantly white, so he actually improves the racial diversity if he is allowed to continue attending Gateway Science Academy.

The lawsuit, White v. Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation, was filed in federal district court in St. Louis on May 4.

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation is the leading legal watchdog organization that litigates for limited government and individual rights, in courts across the country.  Since 1973, PLF has served as an important check on government power and used its strategic litigation to push back and restore constitutional limits at the local, state, and federal levels of government.

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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