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Schools, universities, training programs and other educational institutions are prohibited from denying admission on the basis of sex. In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Bakke v. Board of Regents authorized race (plus gender and national origin) as a permissible factor in deciding whether a student would be admitted to a school. While inflexible quota systems are prohibited, institutions of higher learning may enact affirmative action policies tilted toward the admission of women and other minorities. Law schools, medical schools and traditional all-male colleges and military academies all have these affirmative action policies in place. As recently as 2003, the Court affirmed the constitutionality of these polices holding that colleges and universities have "a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."

The school buses in my minority neighborhood are unreliable, and my child is often unable to get to her magnet school for special classes. Is this discrimination?

Yes. You can argue the school district is attempting to segregate children based on race by allowing poor bus maintenance for your minority neighborhood.

Sidebar: School systems all over the nation are still operating under desegregation orders put in place by the courts over 30 years ago. An issue such as unequal distribution of air conditioning between white and minority schools prevents the order from being lifted

My child was not allowed to transfer to another high school because she did not have enough points accumulated for scholarship, community service or school activities. However, all minority students are awarded 10 automatic points. Is the automatic awarding of points discriminatory?

Yes. Although the school district can argue that it is encouraging racial diversity, its process is not narrowly tailored to achieve the result, since every minority student has been given points without the necessary individualized consideration.

Sidebar: Automatic point systems are discriminatory because there is no flexibility. The Supreme Court has held that a process for admission on the basis of achieving racial diversity must consider each applicant's individual qualifications, including the contribution his or her race and ethnicity can make to the student body, but taking into account diversity within and among all racial and ethnic groups.

Sidebar: Racial quotas are strictly prohibited in nonremedial situations. (Historic school segregation is an example of a remedial situation.)

My son is not permitted to attend a private Native American school that teaches historic traditions, language and culture because he is not a Native American. Is the school illegally discriminating against him?

No. The school's admission process is narrowly tailored to address a remedial situation-the loss of Native American history and tradition.