Today (September 1, 2020,) a judge in Alameda County announced a groundbreaking decision in Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California, granting a preliminary injunction that requires the UC system to stop using the SAT and ACT as part of the admissions process immediately.
Tom Madruga, of Olivarez Madruga Lemieux O’Neill, LLP, represents Compton Unified School District, a plaintiff in a consolidated case, Compton Unified School District v. Regents of the University of California. Compton Unified School District is one of several plaintiffs who allege that the UC’s use of the SAT and ACT is discriminatory against applicants based on their race, socio-economic status, and disability.
This is a historic decision for rising seniors in Compton and anyone currently in the process of applying to a UC school. For years these exams have systemically discriminated against talented and qualified students with less advantages and opportunities to pursue higher education at the UC. Now applicants will not be hindered by yet another obstacle in pursuit of their dreams.
The UC Regents voted to eliminate the tests in late May, but several campuses, including UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC Riverside, planned to use a so-called “test-optional” policy. Today’s announcement recognizes that the use of the tests at UC campuses would create a two-tier system inaccessible to students with disabilities and ultimately harmful to students.
The ruling emphasized how the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted the ability of students with disabilities to be tested with the accommodations they need: “[T]he barriers faced by students with disabilities are indisputably significantly greater than those faced by non-disabled students,” wrote Judge Brad Seligman.
The plaintiffs in Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California are five individual students and six organizations: College Access Plan, Little Manila Rising, Dolores Huerta Foundation, College Seekers, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Community Coalition. They are represented by Public Counsel, Scheper Kim & Harris, Equal Justice Society, Miller Advocacy Group, and Brown Goldstein & Levy.
Read the ruling here.