Skip to content


News Posted on May 23, 2013

Professor Larson Publishes Op-Ed on School District Decision

Professor Carlton Larson has published an op-ed on the recent vote by the Board of Trustees of the Davis school district to implement a lottery for admissions to the GATE program for gifted students. 

The article, which appeared in the Davis Enterprise on May 19, takes issue with the advice offered by the board's counsel suggesting that the GATE selection process that had been in place, which relied upon standardized tests and the assessment of "risk factors" such as economic disadvantage and health problems, exposed the district to the risk of a lawsuit and that a lottery seemed the only legally permissible option.

Such an assessment "is almost certainly wrong," Larson writes, and following its logic would lead to a district requirement that seats in all school programs with a limited number of seats, from spots on a football team to seats in a school orchestra, be assigned by lottery. 

"One would expect that advice to drastically change the district's placement policy would be backed up by some substantial legal authority, or even the experience of other school districts," writes Larson. "But there is nothing in the United States Constitution, in federal statutory law, or in state law that requires or even suggests that an admissions lottery is required in the circumstances in which Davis finds itself."

Carlton Larson's research interests focus on constitutional law and legal history, with a strong emphasis on the 18th century.