A federal judge in Massachusetts has withdrawn an opinion — a first in his 35 years on the bench — that had originally backed a Boston Public Schools plan to factor ZIP code into admissions.
The plan was opposed on the grounds of being discriminatory against Asian Americans and whites with high entrance exam scores, but the judge's flip on his court opinion came after reports of anti-white texts between two school committee members, the Boston Herald reported.
"I've been misled, and I don't see how the opinion can stand," Judge William Young said in a virtual hearing Friday.
Racial animus might have been behind the push to factor ZIP code into admissions, the judge has now decided, because concerning texts between former member Alexandra Oliver-Davila and former member Lorna Rivera were left out of the school's testimony, according to the report.
The reported texts shared racial bias against the mostly white West Roxbury neighborhood in Boston:
"I hate WR," Oliver-Davila texted Rivera.
Rivera replied: "sick of westie whites."
Oliver-Davila responded, "Me too I really feel Like saying that!!!!"
The texts were leaked to Boston media after Young's initially siding with BPS in his ruling. Both board members have since resigned.
BPS attorney Kay Hodge asserted that the city attorneys left the messages out of a response to public records requests because they were personal and not official business.
"They were innocent mistakes, they were not intended to be fraudulent," Hodge told the Herald, stating that neither she nor her team were aware of the texts being redacted. "They were not intended to mislead the court."
A fuming Young called that explanation for omission "ludicrous," according to the Herald.
"It didn't occur to you to bring that to the attention of the court?" Young asked Hodge, to which she replied no, the Herald reported.
BPS had implemented a ZIP code provision over academic excellence for admission to prestigious public schools requiring entrance exams, outraging parents who argued it was discriminatory to Asian American and white students.
The case has been appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit by the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence.
William Hurd, the attorney for BPCAE, brought the lawsuit and seeks to bar BPS from permanently using ZIP codes as a factor in admissions decisions.
"We are very pleased with the important step that the court took," Hurd told the Herald on Friday.
A school committee hearing is scheduled Wednesday to vote on a permanent admissions policy using a poverty indicator and socioeconomic tiers, according to the Herald.
The previous committee vote to use the ZIP code provision over exam results was when the texts were sent by Oliver-Davila and Rivera. Also, the now-resigned former chair Michael Loconto was heard mocking Asian names on a hot microphone, the Herald reported.
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