Access Denied for Some Students

School board decision

Earlier this year, in March, former students sued a San Francisco school board of education citing Brown Act violations. Specifically, members of the Friends of Lowell Foundation have alleged that the decision to alter existing merit-based admissions standards was secretly conducted and failed to offer adequate opportunities for community engagement and analysis. The Brown Act enforces government operated or funded entities, such as the school district and the San Francisco Board of Education, to discuss business measures in open meetings. The Friends of Lowell Foundation has now teamed up with two additional associations to request an injunction related to the case.

The Lowell Alumni Association, the Asian American Legal Foundation, and the Friends of Lowell Foundation are all challenging the school board to reverse the stated decision, which ended the academic performance-based admission process starting in the 2021-2022 school year. Prior to this ruling, students were selected to attend the school, which is considered one of the nation’s best public high schools, based on grade point averages. Now, enrollment depends on a lottery system, which intends to increase and improve access to students who may come from underserved areas. While the organizations that are challenging the decision do not necessarily argue against seeking ways to increase access to a diverse range of students, they do contest the rushed manner at which the school board arrived at the policy change.

Rather than simply throwing out a policy that has helped the school prosper, the Friends of Lowell Foundation wish to develop a plan to better prepare future students, particularly those who are academically disadvantaged, to one day enroll in elite schools, such as Lowell. In addition, the members hope to continue the legacy of Lowell High School and preserve modified merit-based admissions processes, which arguably contribute inclusive and economic benefits to the surrounding communities. There is an opportunity for the community to come together to decide how to both increase access and preserve a school identity.