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Title VI: Lower Merion School District (PA) OCR Complaint No. 03-09-1082

On November 27, 2012, OCR resolved the portion of a complaint against the Lower Merion School District that alleged discrimination on the basis of race, due to a District redistricting plan that had divided a neighborhood that is predominately African-American. OCR determined that this allegation was decided on the merits by the Federal courts, including the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court, which affirmed a District Court’s order.  The United States Supreme Court also denied certiorari in this case. In its letter of resolution, OCR noted that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that a school district may consider neighborhood racial demographics in drawing a student assignment plan that promotes diversity is consistent with the Guidance issued by OCR and the Department of Justice in December 2011. OCR quoted the Third Circuit: “The Supreme Court and this Court have yet to set forth any standard requiring the application of strict scrutiny when decisionmakers have discussed race, but the school assignment plan neither classifies on the basis of race nor has a discriminatory purpose. We hold that the plan here passes constitutional muster because it does not select students based on racial classifications, it does not use race to assign benefits or burdens in the school assignment process, it does not apply the plan in a discriminatory manner, and it does not have a racially discriminatory purpose. Strict scrutiny does not apply.”

  Read the Resolution Letter download files PDF (124K)

Last Modified: 01/15/2020