Exit exam opponents won’t give up legal fight

Despite a state appeals court decision earlier this month that upheld California’s high school exit exam, the lawyers who filed lawsuits against the high-stakes test said on Tuesday that they haven’t given up their legal fight.

“The bottom line is we are not going away and neither is the lawsuit,” said attorney Arturo Gonzalez of the San Francisco-based law firm Morrison & Foerster.

Gonzalez filed the lawsuit on behalf of senior students who had not passed the exit exam, arguing that the test discriminated against students who are minorities, low income and/or English-language learners because these students frequently attend schools with fewer resources.

Gonzalez said he did not file a petition asking the California Supreme Court to review the appellate court decision, but instead agreed to a sit-down meeting with state Education Department officials Aug. 18 to see if an agreement could be hammered out to offer additional remediation to those seniors denied a diploma in June.

He is currently waiting on the state’s response to his request, he said. If an agreement is not made, he’ll “go back to the judge and seek a new injunction,” he said.

A second lawsuit, which argues not enough time was spent by the state researching alternatives to the existing test, is scheduled to go before the same appeals court Sept. 12.

Filed by another San Francisco-based law firm, Public Advocates, the lawsuit also seeks to delay the consequences of the exit exam — meaning those not passing in the Class of 2006 would retroactively get exams if the judge rules that the state did not fully pursue its legal obligation to review other means of assessing students’ knowledge.

“Nearly every state has alternatives,” Public Advocates attorney John Affeldt said. “They shouldn’t rely so heavily on a single test score.”

In a teleconference Tuesday morning, state Superintendent of public instruction Jack O'Connell noted that there is also a bill working its way through the state Legislature that proposes extending a one-year exemption for special education students that was granted to the Classof 2006.

O'Connell said that although the state has not taken an official position on the new legislation, he believed an ongoing exemption — which would give diplomas to special education students who have passed their classes but not the exit exam — “wouldn't prepare them for fulfilling, productive, independent lives.”

beslinger@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Health care workers would be the first group in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images/TNS)
Hope on the way: Here’s what to know about California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

The first batch of doses could hit the state as soon as early December

The Big Game was played Friday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. (Shutterstock)
Stanford blocks extra point to stun Cal, win 123rd Big Game 24-23

The 123rd edition of the Big Game featured a number of firsts.… Continue reading

Psilocybin magic mushrooms (Shutterstock)
‘Magic mushrooms’ moving into the mainstream

Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics could follow several different paths

The 2020 Census has concluded taking responses sooner than expected. (Courtesy photo)
What does California have to lose if undocumented immigrants are excluded from the census?

By Kim Bojórquez The Sacramento Bee If The U.S. Supreme Court rules… Continue reading

Those who stick around San Francisco on long holiday weekends can enjoy a slower pace, uncrowded streets and beloved institutions like cable cars. <ins>(Kevin Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
These empty San Francisco streets: A holiday dream

We’re here because we can be, and because we have nowhere else to be

Most Read