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Supreme Court strikes down Seattle's 'tiebreaker'

Published on: July 01, 2007

In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has just ruled that school districts cannot consider race when assigning children to public schools. The ruling struck down the Seattle school district’s school choice policy as “unconstitutional.”

Seattle Public Schools’ “tiebreaker” plan, begun in 1998, allows families to send their children to any school in their district – but when there are more applicants than spaces available, race is one of several "tiebreakers" used to achieve diversity. Several families – predominantly white – sued the district, claiming the practice was unfair. The district put the plan on hold pending the outcome of this lawsuit.

The court ruled on lawsuits involving two school districts: Seattle’s, and one from Louisville, Kentucky.

Read the full text of the ruling on the U.S. Supreme Court's website here (click on "Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1"). Seattle Public Schools has issued a statement that includes timelines of the case and the evolution of the school choice policy, which is available on their Web site here. And don't miss our expanded article on the Supreme Court ruling in our upcoming August issue of ParentMap.

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