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Ruling Elates Black Parents Contesting State IQ Test Ban

October 01, 1994|From Staff and Wire Reports

SAN FRANCISCO — IQ tests, widely attacked by civil rights organizations as racist, may be available in the future for black parents who want to measure their children's learning problems, as the result of a court ruling Friday.

The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals clears the way for a federal judge to decide whether a 15-year-old ban on the use of IQ tests to place blacks in "mentally retarded" classes still applies, given the current array of "special education" programs for students with various learning difficulties.

The ruling did not resolve claims of racial bias in the tests nor the question of whether they should be available to families who want them. But it was a victory for a small group of black parents who challenged a statewide ban on the use of IQ tests to place blacks in special education.

"This is a tremendous victory for the cause of equality and for black parents and kids," said Manuel Klausner, a lawyer for those parents.

A landmark 1979 federal court ruling found that IQ tests are racially and culturally biased against blacks and barred California public schools from administering them to black students. Students of other races are not included in that ban.

Critics say that prevents some parents from learning whether their child has a learning disorder.

A Laguna Hills mother who is suing the Saddleback Valley Unified School District over the issue said Friday that she is pleased with any ruling that could result in fair treatment for all schoolchildren.

"No one should be told they can't have the test because they are black, and that's what happened to my daughter," said Wendy Strong, whose 8-year-old daughter, Brianna Combash, was denied the test. Strong wanted the test administered to her daughter to help determine if the girl has a learning disorder.

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