[Guest post by DRJ]
— Beverly Hills public school trustee Brian Goldberg, explaining why he favors priority for out-of-district legacy admissions at Beverly Hills public schools.
The Beverly Hills and Santa Monica-Malibu public school districts have voted to grant an admissions preference to the children of alumni living outside their enrollment boundaries. Beverly Hills Unified School District has a history of special admissions, but this legacy policy has stirred up controversy:
“Districts have broad discretion to set enrollment policies, as long as they do not violate state or federal law. Constitutional scholar and UC Irvine law school Dean Erwin Chemerinsky said the legacy policies are not unconstitutional, although he said he found them troubling.
“They give benefits to those who often least need them and deny that benefit to those who often most need them,” he said.
Bill Koski, a Stanford University law professor who specializes in education policy, said the preferences could widen the gap between affluent and poor districts. “The adequacy of education funding in California is problematic when even our wealthiest school districts feel they must resort to this type of thing,” Koski said.
Others, including Beverly Hills trustee Myra Demeter, criticized the policies for perpetuating privilege. “It favors the children of a group of people — district alumni old enough to have children of school age — perceived by many to be white and wealthy,” she said.
Supporters point out that Beverly Hills Unified offers hundreds of permits to students who live outside its bounds. Some are intended to foster diversity at the high school; others are for children of city and district employees and the largest group is for students with “opportunity permits.” Anyone can apply for the latter, which are used to boost state funding, fill out classes and allow a richer array of courses and activities.
The board voted this year to give no new opportunity permits, to continue the other permit programs and to allow 11 more legacy slots next year.”
More at the link.
Incidentally, Trustee Goldberg voted against the recent admissions change because he felt legacies should be given even greater priority than the current policy provides.