L.A. can use race as factor in ‘magnet schools’

Bob Egelko:

Los Angeles can continue to seek racial balance in assigning tens of thousands of students to specialized “magnet schools” despite California’s voter-approved ban on race preferences in government programs, a state appeals court has ruled.
Friday’s decision by the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles preserves the long-standing desegregation program in the state’s largest school district in the face of a challenge by backers of Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot measure. Lawyers in the case disagreed on whether the ruling could also affect a lawsuit against the use of race in Berkeley school enrollments.
The court said a judge’s order in 1981 that required the district to consider the race of students applying to magnet schools in Los Angeles – the culmination of a discrimination case that began in 1963 – remains in effect and allows the program to continue under an express exemption in Prop. 209.