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N.Y.C. to Change Many Selective Schools to Address Segregation

But some schools and even entire districts were exempted from that policy by Mr. Bloomberg, and Mr. de Blasio did not end those carve outs. The most conspicuous example is in Manhattan’s District 2, one of the whitest and wealthiest of the city’s 32 local school districts. Students who live in that district, which includes the Upper East Side and the West Village, get priority for seats in some of the district’s high schools, which are among the highest-performing schools in the city.

No other district in the city has as many high schools set aside for local students as District 2.

Many of those high schools fill nearly all of their seats with students from District 2 before even considering qualified students from elsewhere. That has made some schools, like Eleanor Roosevelt High School on the Upper East Side, some of the whitest high schools in all of New York City.

Mr. de Blasio, who campaigned on a message of combating inequality in all aspects of city life, has always had the authority to get rid of that admissions priority and all other ones in New York City. But he has not exercised that power until now, and is doing so only after the principals of some of the most prestigious District 2 high schools publicly called on the city to diversify their schools by getting rid of the admissions preference.

“As a public servant of a public school, it is my mission to educate as many students from as many different backgrounds who represent the abundance of the city in which we live,” Dimitri Saliani, the principal of Eleanor Roosevelt, wrote in an email to parents this week. “The lack of diversity among students, faculty and staff is a disservice to our community as a whole.”

New York City’s schools chancellor, Richard A. Carranza, and his top deputies have for years urged Mr. de Blasio to get rid of District 2 preference, according to officials with direct knowledge of those conversations.

The city will eliminate the District 2 priority and all other district priorities for this admissions cycle, and then remove geographic preferences for all other individual high schools that use them for next year’s admissions. Some of those other high schools are not highly academically selective, but base admission in part on geography.

Mr. de Blasio will also announce Friday that the city will issue grants to five districts to be used to develop diversity plans, in the model of what District 15 parents did to eliminate their middle school screening system. Over the next four years, all 32 districts will receive support from the city to create their own integration plans.

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