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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Opinion: Lowell’s merit-based admissions won’t return — no matter who’s on the school board

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By Joe Eskenazi

Special to The Examiner

Following last month’s overwhelming recall election, Mayor London Breed is rounding third on selecting three new members of the school board. The process is fraught for her: With increased mayoral control of the Board of Education, school performance joins homelessness and public safety as another intractable problem for which voters can hold Breed accountable in the year leading up to her reelection bid.

It’s also a fraught process for the board and the school district. The school board will have to balance an inadequate budget, hire a new superintendent, implement a school assignment system, cope with declining enrollment, turn around rock-bottom morale — and, of course, deal with Lowell.

The previous school board’s decision to nix Lowell High School’s merit-based admission process induced great vengeance and furious anger from that school’s partisans and alumni, who won a legal challenge and played no small role in storming the recall Bastille.

But, regardless of what those partisans and alumni want, Lowell’s old admissions process isn’t coming back — and can’t come back unless the new Board of Education ignores the explicit advice of its legal counsel.

Numerous current and former Board of Education members tell me the school district’s general counsel has, for years, warned them — in closed-session meetings and explicitly in writing — that Lowell’s merit-based admissions policy is incompatible with California law.

These board members were told that if the district were sued, it would likely lose.

To read the full story, visit Mission Local.

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