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Three More Top High Schools Subpoenaed in Admissions Lawsuit

Boston Latin School is located near Harvard Medical School.
Boston Latin School is located near Harvard Medical School.
By William S. Flanagan and Michael E. Xie, Crimson Staff Writers

An anti-affirmative action group seeking insight into Harvard’s undergraduate admissions processes has subpoenaed three more competitive high schools—in addition to Boston Latin School—in its ongoing lawsuit accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian Americans.

Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, is requesting depositions from representatives of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Stuyvesant High School, and Monta Vista High School, according to a series of documents filed in court Thursday. SFFA is also requesting information from Boston Latin School, a prestigious Mass. public high school, though the school has moved to quash the subpoena.

In a motion arguing against Boston Latin School, lawyers for SFFA wrote that the four schools were subpoenaed because they rank among the top high schools in the country, send a sizeable portion of their students to top universities, and enroll a large number of Asian American students.

Boston Latin School, which sent 26 students to Harvard in 2016, is one of four high schools subpoenaed in an ongoing admissions lawsuit against the University.
Boston Latin School, which sent 26 students to Harvard in 2016, is one of four high schools subpoenaed in an ongoing admissions lawsuit against the University. By Saul A. Urbina-Johanson

Thomas Jefferson, a competitive public STEM magnet school in Alexandria, Va., currently enrolls 1,843 students with 61 percent reported of Asian descent, according to U.S. News and World Report. Stuyvesant, one of nine specialized high schools in New York City, enrolls 3,293 students, of which 73 percent are Asian. Monta Vista, a public school located near Silicon Valley in Calif., enrolls 2,351 students, 78 percent of whom are of Asian descent. Boston Latin School, which enrolls 2,379 students, reports a significantly lower percentage of Asian American students at 29 percent.

All four schools subpoenaed by SFFA have consistently enrolled graduating seniors into Harvard’s freshman classes. Twenty-six members of Harvard's Class of 2020 went to Boston Latin, for example.

In its subpoenas to the high schools, SFFA requested a deposition from a school official, documentation of the racial composition of applicants and admits to Harvard, and any internal or external communications of alleged racial discrimination against Asian Americans in the college admissions process.

According to the opposition motion filed by SFFA, representatives from both Stuyvesant and Monta Vista have notified SFFA that they intend to comply with the subpoena, producing the requested information and submitting to a deposition. Currently, though, Boston Latin and Thomas Jefferson have filed motions to quash the subpoenas and are awaiting rulings.

Thomas Jefferson’s motion to quash, originally filed on Mar. 23rd in the Eastern Virginia District Court argues—similarly to Boston Latin—that the subpoena would place an “undue burden” on Thomas Jefferson and its governing school district and seeks”irrelevant information that SFFA can obtain from other sources.” Additionally, Thomas Jefferson argues that SFFA has not given the district enough time to collect and review all the information requested by the subpoena.

“It thus is unclear how or why Thomas Jefferson High School employees would have any information relevant,” Christopher T. Pickens, counsel for Thomas Jefferson, wrote in the motion.

In their opposition to Boston Latin’s request to quash the subpoena, SFFA wrote that the subpoena will not realistically place an “undue burden” on the high school and that its close ties to Harvard and large number of Asian American students makes it a useful witness to alleged discriminatory practices.

“To avoid such discrimination, counselors may advise [Asian American] students to hide their identity, to emphasize personal characteristics that avoid Asian stereotypes, and in many cases, to lower their expectations and apply elsewhere,” Patrick Strawbridge, counsel for SFFA, wrote in the motion.

Currently, the lawsuit is in the discovery period and will remain so until June 20. SFFA argues that the information requested in the four subpoenas will highlight a “key point of discovery”: the “experiences of high school guidance counselors and other school officials” who may be witness to the race-conscious admissions policy at Harvard.

—Staff writer William S. Flanagan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @willflan21.

—Staff writer Michael E. Xie can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MichaelEXie1.

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Boston Latin School Subpoenaed in Admissions Lawsuit