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Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Tiebreakers: key dates

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July 2000: Parents Involved in Community Schools (PICS) sues Seattle Public Schools over its use of a racial tiebreaker to assign some students to high schools.

April 2001: U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein upholds the tiebreaker, saying it counteracts the city's segregated neighborhoods and does not violate the preferential-treatment ban of voter-approved Initiative 200.

April 2002: A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel rules 3-0 that the tiebreaker violates state I-200. Ballard High School principal David Engle resigns to protest the federal court's decision, saying it will resegregate his school.

June 2002: The federal court withdraws its earlier ruling and says the state Supreme Court should answer the I-200 question. Although the court lifts its injunction against the tiebreaker, the school district decides to suspend its use until the legal questions are resolved.

June 2003: State Supreme Court, in an 8-1 ruling, says assigning students on the basis of race does not violate I-200's prohibition on racial preference, because it affects students of all races in a similar manner. The constitutional question goes back to the federal appeals court.

Yesterday: A 9th Circuit panel again rejects the tiebreaker, this time in a 2-1 decision, saying it violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection.

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