Lawyers' Committee and Bingham McCutchen Report is "Tipping Point" Leading to Reforms Benefitting Minority Students

Media Contact: Candice Francis / Communications Director, LCCR /  415.543.9697 x216 /
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – How far should students go and how long should it take to get to high school? This question was posed last July in “Pushing the Line”, a report released by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area and Bingham McCutchen LLP. Today we got the answer we were looking for – one that will increase educational opportunities for students in East Palo Alto.
“Pushing the Line” demonstrated how through a jigsaw of attendance boundaries, Sequoia Union High School District’s (SUHSD) student assignment plan divided minority students from East Palo Alto between three different high schools across non-contiguous attendance zones. As a result, the District’s process for assigning students to high school appeared to be discriminatory. The report outlined how the District’s assignment plan potentially ran afoul of federal and state civil rights law and urged the District to change its school assignment practice.
Among its recommendations, the report urged the District to remove the current attendance boundaries that divide East Palo Alto, craft a student assignment plan that treats all students equally, and develop better high school transition programs.
We are please to report that, in answer to our report, the Sequoia Union High School District Board unanimously approved permanent changes to their student assignment plan. These changes are exactly what the “Pushing the Line” report made clear were necessary.
Specifically, all Ravenswood students will now be assigned in the first instance to Menlo-Atherton High School. This will put an end to the inequitable system that has for years splintered the predominately low-income and minority community of Ravenswood/East Palo Alto across three different and distant high schools, resulting in long bus rides for many students and exacting a heavy toll on students and their families.
Community members singled out our report as the critical event that changed the course of the debate and ultimately led to these reforms. In the words of one: “We cannot thank you all enough for all your work and dedication around this issue.” Another remarked: “I have no doubt that your report was the tipping point.”
The Lawyers’ Committee and Bingham McCutchen will monitor implementation of these changes and ensure that the needs of Ravenswood students are accommodated in the transition. To read the full report, click here.