Boston exam schools and their admission standards are again the focus of controversy

Black students make up 30.9 percent of district enrollment, but just 7.5 percent of students at Boston Latin School. –Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff File

Incoming Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius could soon find herself ensnared in a legal dispute over one of the most polarizing debates in the school system: Whether to change admission requirements to Boston Latin and other exam schools in an effort to increase student diversity.

Cassellius, who begins July 1, was pulled into the dispute Wednesday after the Lawyers for Civil Rights and the NAACP sent a letter to her, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and the School Committee that asked them to overhaul the admission requirements to the city’s three exam schools, which exclusively rely on students’ grade point averages and performance on a standardized test to determine admission to elite private schools.


“There are many alternative admissions policies that would support a high-performing student body while resulting in a less discriminatory impact,’’ the letter said. “As such, the current admission policy for Boston’s exam schools likely violates both federal and state law.’’