Mom challenges Missouri desegregation rules, alleging discrimination

A parent is challenging a desegregation order that was supposed to help integrate public schools in St. Louis, Mo., but is now barring her child from attending a school of his choice. La’Shieka White alleges discrimination against her son, who is black, and wants to enroll in a public school which, ironically, is predominantly white.

“I feel like I’m being treated differently because of my skin color,” Edmund Lee, Jr., White’s 9-year-old son, says in a video produced by the Pacific Legal Foundation.

At the center of the lawsuit is a 33-year old desegregation order that was designed to help black students transfer to whiter suburban public schools and to allow non-black students to transfer to inner-city schools such as magnet schools. The school transfer program prevents black students living in the suburbs from transferring to inner-city schools.

“This case is important for students of all races,” White said.  “School policies should treat everyone the same, regardless of color.”

White said she was shocked to discover the restriction. She started a petition that gathered over 134,000 signatures to change the rules.

Lawyers from the Pacific Legal Foundation, a California-based public interest law firm representing White, called the restrictions “outrageous.”

The lawsuit argues that race-based restrictions are a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

“There can be no excuse in the 21st century for denying any student equal opportunity without regard to race,” attorney Joshua Thompson says.