: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Ed Felten, Freedom to Tinker, Predicts Challenges to Discriminatory Algorithms in Admissions

Ed Felten has 39 predictions for 2009 up on the Freedom to Tinker blog. This one in particular caught my eye.

(12) An affirmative action lawsuit will be filed against a university, challenging the use of a software algorithm used in evaluating applicants.

Computer algorithms would seem to be the purest form of meritocracy. Of course computers don’t discriminate, people discriminate. Where there’s a program, there’s a programmer. It’s an astute observation I think. Time will tell.

Freedom to Tinker: Predictions for 2009

Katy ISD Gives Sixth Grader Four months in Alternative Ed for Graffiti

As the Houston Chronicle reports in Writing on school wall gets Katy sixth-grader pulled, Shelby Sendelbach was slapped with a mandatory four-month assignment to an alternative school for writing “I love Alex” on a gymnasium wall already covered with graffiti. The district classified her act as a Level 4 infraction, ranking in the eyes of the district up there with terroristic threats, possessing dangerous drugs, and assault with bodily injury.

The Harris County district attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case as a felony. But school district spokesman Steve Stanford said the district is following a state law that requires mandatory removal to a disciplinary alternative education school for such an offense.

How’s this for some Legislative Intent?

But Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, disagreed. Eissler co-authored House Bill 603 in 2005, which gives administrators more latitude to consider disciplinary history, intent, whether a student has a disability that would impair judgment or acted in self-defense in deciding punishment.

“They have all the leeway they want,” he said. “They didn’t have to hammer this young lady the way they did. That’s why I wrote HB 603 — to give school districts authority to back off the black-and-white justice.”

Stanford said he is confident the district is following the law.


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