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/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Judge Refuses to Void Suit Against District

July 01, 1999

PASADENA — A federal judge has denied a Pasadena Unified School District request to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to dismantle a new admissions lottery that allegedly uses ethnicity to admit children to the district's best schools.

In a ruling issued this week, U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian said the lawsuit by five parents can proceed because the use of race as a factor could constitute discrimination.

Schools Supt. Vera Vignes has said the lottery conducted in April for admission this fall to the popular Don Benito Elementary School, Norma Coombs Alternative School and Marshall High School was a random draw not linked to ethnicity.

Previously, the Pasadena Unified used first-come, first-served admissions for these schools. Parents would camp out overnight outside the district headquarters to enroll their children.

Tevrizian used the ruling to criticize Pasadena schools.

"It is an embarrassment to the city of Pasadena when it lays claim to having only three exceptional and challenging public education facilities," he wrote.

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