Claims of discrimination against Chinese students in the San Mateo Union High School District .
The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has been investigating claims by a number of families in the district who say that Chinese students are being discriminated against and being denied entrance into Mills High School in Millbrae - the district's top-performing school, with - and instead being sent to Capuchino High School in San Bruno, the district's lowest-performing school. In some cases, students were even being pulled out of Mills and transferred to Capuchino in the middle of the school year.
However, the district has been telling various news outlets such as The Huffington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle that the fact that these students are all Chinese is a coincedence - the reason for them being sent to Capuchino has to do with proof of residency.
Though, reportedly, all the students live within the Mills school boundary zone, they don't, however, live with their parents. Each student lives with a relative other than their parents, who was not originally designated as the student's primary caregiver or guardian, which the district requires as adequate proof of residency to attend a particular school, as indicated on the district's website.
In a number of the cases, the student's parents have returned to China, leaving their child behind in the care of a relative so they may continue school in America.
In speaking to various news outlets, students who claim they were victims of the discrimination say living in a "shared residence" or living with a relative other than their parents is common in Chinese culture.
Hoi Ki Sin, an incoming freshman who attended middle school in Millbrae, told The San Francisco Chronicle she was looking forward to attending Mills High School, close to home, when the district told her they were, instead, placing her at Capuchino.
She says the district told her it is because she "doesn't live in Millbrae." She has lived with both her mother and her aunt in Millbrae since emigrating from Hong Kong 18 months ago - but, the key is, the house is in the aunt's name, which is apparently not considered adequate proof of residency, since her aunt is not her guardian or primary caregiver.
Hoi Ki Sin's mother told the Chronicle she feels discriminated against because of her immigration history and the fact she lives in a "shared residence."
Leland Lam, 16, told the Chronicle he thinks the district is trying to transfer high-performing Asian students to Capuchino to help boost the school's API scores - and perhaps that is why he was pulled out of Mills just two months into his junior year, and transferred to Capuchino.
Leland also told the Chronicle that living with his aunt was the trigger that cost him attending Mills for the remainder of his junior year.
Leland says his parents, who used to live in Millbrae, recently "had to move to San Francisco because of health and economic problems," and so they left him in the care of his aunt, who also lives in Millbrae, so he could continue school.
After much complaining, and designating the aunt as Leland's legal guardian, the Chronicle reports that the district finally relented, and will allow Leland to complete his senior year of high school at Mills after all.
Leland told the Chronicle he is very happy he will get to attend Mills for his last year of high school, as Mills offers certain classes he wants to take that aren't offered at Capuchino.
The Office of Civil Rights is still investigating the matter.
PATCH WANTS TO KNOW - What do you think? Should students whose parents live in another city separate from their child - or even in another country, in some cases - still be allowed to attend their top choice of school, as long as they live with a relative within the school's boundary zone? Or, do you think these students and their families are trying to skirt the system? Tell us in the comments.
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