(Reuters) - A Texas medical school will no longer consider race in its admissions decisions under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, the first of its kind as the Trump administration seeks to roll back affirmative-action practices.
The education department said in an email on Tuesday that its civil rights office reached the deal in February with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, ending a 14-year investigation into its admission practices.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the action taken was the first time the Trump administration has asked a school to stop its affirmative-action practices. It is also a sign of how the administration will handle future investigations involving race and admissions, sources told the Journal.
The school said in a letter to the department in February that it “is committed to exploring race-neutral alternatives to enhancing diversity and fully and completely evaluating its current admissions policies and practices.”
Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the education department last summer rescinded guidelines put in place under President Barack Obama that said colleges and universities could consider race in admissions decisions as a way of promoting diversity.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a series of cases that universities may use affirmative action to increase minority enrollment on their campuses. Conservatives have argued such programs can hurt whites and Asian-Americans and argue that other factors including socioeconomic status should be considered in efforts to achieve diversity.
A federal judge is weighing a lawsuit accusing Harvard University of discriminating against Asian-American applicants. Legal experts believe the case could end up in U.S. Supreme Court and have wide implications regarding affirmative action.
Harvard and Yale University are under investigation by the Justice Department over claims of discrimination against Asian-Americans. Both schools have denied the allegations.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Cynthia Osterman