SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco’s school board voted to change the admissions policy at the city’s prestigious Lowell High School, Tuesday night.

The seven-member San Francisco Board of Education voted 5-2 to change the school’s current merit-based policy to a lottery system.

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Lowell ranks as one of the highest performing high schools in California, but board members cited the magnet school’s lack of diversity and “pervasive systemic racism” as the reason to change the current admissions policy.

The high school has previously selected students based on grade point average for decades, leading to ongoing conversations about equity and racial segregation, as well as several policy changes to bring on more students of color from underserved neighborhoods.

But increasing racism being reported by students, particularly those within Lowell’s Black Student Union, over the last several years further heightened discussions, resulting in a proposal to remove the grade-based admissions process altogether.

Just last week, students with Lowell’s BSU held an in-person rally, demanding the school create a clear zero-tolerance policy against racism in the wake of a recent attack on the school’s online lesson program involving anti-Black and anti-Semitic slurs.

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“We must recognize the need for a culture shift in our schools and address racism. This resolution comes after years of advocacy from students and community members. Led and supported by our students, it reflects our collaboration with numerous outside partners and creates a community coalition, including an external mechanism for accountability,” Board of Education president Gabriela Lopez said in a statement.

Under the newly approved resolution, students applying to Lowell during the 2021-2022 school year and moving forward will use the same admissions process for all of the district’s other comprehensive high schools, which is lottery-based.

In addition, the resolution calls for a Memorandum of Understanding for a group of organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, to create a plan to address “exclusion and ongoing toxic racist abuse that students of color, and specifically Black students, have experienced at Lowell High School since the school’s creation.”

Other organizations involved include the SFUSD African American Parent Advisory Council, the SF Alliance of Black School Educators and SFUSD’s BSU.


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