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Students Sue UC for Admission

December 21, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Seven high school seniors who say bureaucratic bungling by their schools kept them out of the University of California system sued Wednesday for another chance at admission.

The students, who are joined in their lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, say they are being unfairly denied a guaranteed UC education.

Nearly a sixth of California’s 852 public high schools missed an Aug. 31 deadline to submit the transcripts the UC system needed to offer guaranteed admission to the top 4 percent of each high school’s seniors.

The students that the program was most intended to help _ those from low-income and minority neighborhoods _ are being disproportionately shut out as a result, said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks class-action status.

``It angers me to know I was kind of wronged from this opportunity,″ said plaintiff Yanira Leon, 17, a senior at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles and one of the plaintiffs.

Although Leon is confident she’ll go to college, she said early admission to the UC system would have assured she would go to a prestigious university and reduced the stress of college applications.

Gov. Gray Davis pushed the guaranteed admission program last year to ensure diversity at UC’s eight undergraduate campuses. Enrollment of blacks, Hispanics and American Indians declined 9.5 percent after the UC Board of Regents voted in 1995 to ban affirmative action. The ban first affected undergraduates applying for fall 1998 admission.

UC spokesman Terry Lightfoot said he could not comment on the suit, but that the system could not re-open the admissions process this year. He said the system is already halfway through the selection process for next year’s freshman class.

Because the 4 percent plan focuses on class standing in individual high schools rather than standardized test scores, the state estimates it will bring to the UC system about 3,600 students who otherwise would not have been admitted.

Bonnie Plummer, a Santa Clara County school official, said 13 of 36 high schools in her area had failed to submit transcripts to the UC because admissions guidelines ``got lost in the system.″

Another student plaintiff, Victor Cabada, 16, a senior at Los Angeles’ Manual Arts High School, said the mix-up was not unusual.

``I was mad, but this kind of thing doesn’t really surprise me coming from my school, because it happens a lot,″ he said. ``What outraged me more is that nobody’s taking responsibility.″


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