Central Issue: Racial Profiling
When Larry P. was placed in a class for educable mental retardation (EMR), Larry’s mother argued that the use of IQ tests to evaluate African American students deprived these students of their right to equal educational opportunities. She argued this because IQ tests were racially and culturally discriminatory in the sense that they were designed to evaluate white middle-class students, not African American students. Therefore, the use of these IQ tests for evaluative purposes led to a disproportionate number of African American students being placed in EMR classrooms, in comparison to white students. At this time, only 10% of California students were African America, yet African American students made up 25% of EMR classes.
The court concluded that the IQ tests used did contain cultural and racial biases that benefited white students and hindered African American students. By using these tests to determine EMR class placement, Riles, the superintendent, had discriminated against Larry P. The court ordered that IQ tests could not be the only assessment used to determine eligibility for special education services; there were less biased ways to assess students. Assessments including factors such as cultural background, developmental history, and school achievement should be used in determining a student’s placement in special education.


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