Case of the Month
An educational institution is not entitled to deference by a court in determining whether racial classifications used in admissions decisions are narrowly tailored.
Why is this case significant?
A higher education institution may consider race as a factor in admissions as long as the program satisfies strict scrutiny.
Abigail Fisher, a Caucasian, was denied admission as a freshman to the University of Texas at Austin (UT). Fisher sued UT and various university officials, arguing that UT’s use of race in admissions decision making violated the U.S. Constitution Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the admissions policies at the University of Michigan and held the undergraduate program, which awarded specific points based on race, to be unconstitutional in Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244 (2003), but in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S 306 (2003), upheld the graduate admission program permitting the use of race as one of a number of “plus factors” to determine the overall contribution of a candidate for admission. Shortly thereafter, in an attempt to increase the enrollment of racial minorities on campus to what it deemed a critical mass, UT chose to consider race as a factor in the admissions process. UT included race as a component of an applicant’s Personal Achievement Index or PAI score; however, it did not award specific points based on the applicant’s race. The PAI score was then factored with the student’s academic performance as reflected in the student’s Academic Index to determine if a student would be admitted to the specific college (e.g., the Liberal Arts College) requested by the student, granted general admission, or rejected.
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From the Courts
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
A student was not entitled under the Fourteenth Amendment to a formal grievance hearing before being dismissed from an academic program.
A college district did not fail to accommodate a student’s ADHD in violation of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.
Texas Supreme Court
The Texas Supreme Court clarified the bounds between defamation and defamation per se as they regard to statements relating to a person’s profession.
Texas Courts of Appeal
College district was successful on appeal regarding the issue of discrimination against an employee in violation of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act and the disqualification of the employee’s attorney.
An employee was not discriminated against in violation of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.
A student committed criminal trespass.
In the AG's Opinion
The attorney general concluded that the Texas Constitution prohibits political subdivisions from granting benefits based upon domestic partnerships.
The attorney general issued several Open Records Letter Rulings.
In the News
THECB launched a new transparency and accountability online tool, Compare College TX.
THECB published the 2013 Higher Education Almanac.