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Orange County

School Transfer Policy Blocked

June 01, 2002|VIVIAN LETRAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An appeals court Friday struck down an anti-segregation policy in Huntington Beach Union High School District that denies student transfers based on race.

The ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana states that the policy to keep "racial and ethnic balance" is unconstitutional, according to court documents.

Donald Bruce Crawford, 56, of Fountain Valley sued the district, alleging that the policy restricted transfers of white students from schools with high numbers of minorities, such as Westminster High School, which has a large Asian population.Crawford said late Friday that the appeals court decision works toward a more integrated policy in schools.

"I'm very, very pleased with the court decision. I think we should be a color-blind society," Crawford said. He filed his lawsuit in 1999 on principle after the school district revised its transfer policy that year.

"This policy is a flawed concept that resulted in schools locking their doors to students who want to be there," he said.

School district officials said the aim of the transfer policy is to prevent racial segregation.

"The policy is in place because it's state law, and our district believes young people should go to various schools, so we had our attorney draft up the policy in compliance," said Bonnie Castrey, president of the district.

Castrey said school officials will seek legal advice on whether to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Crawford's lawsuit argued that the policy violated Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot initiative that banned consideration of race and ethnicity in public education, thus ending affirmative action policies statewide.

The three-judge appeals court reversed the judgment of a lower court in favor of the district.

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