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The Racine Unified Board of Education Monday eliminated established preference policies for students of color and those with special needs at district magnet and charter schools.

Board members unanimously approved changing the policy for minority students, but Julie McKenna dissented when it came to changing the policy for special needs students, a story in The Journal Times reads.

RUSD Superintendent Lolli Haws believes the change evens the playing field.

“The idea of these policies being removed means that they are treated no differently, there is no separate treatment,” she is quoted as saying. “There is no basis for looking at your application other than you applied … whatever special needs you might have, whatever race or ethnicity you have has nothing to do with that selection into that program.”

Racine Unified has five choice schools:

  • Bull Fine Arts Elementary
  • Jefferson Lighthouse
  • REAL School (for 6th through 12th grade)
  • Red Apple Elementary
  • Walden III (also 6th through 12th grade)

Families who are interested in sending their kids to one of the choice schools fill out an application and are entered into a lottery system. Students already attending a choice location get first dibs, and their siblings entering kindergarten at the elementary level get next preference. Only then are the remaining seats up for grabs that will now become available on a first come, first served basis.

The change becomes effective immediately, the story continues, which means families of color and/or who have students with special needs will no longer have a place closer to the front of the line for the 2015-2016 school year.