Discrimination Complaint Against Virginia High School

Only 2.1 percent of students are Hispanic; 0.6 percent are black

By Erika Gonzalez
|  Tuesday, Jul 24, 2012  |  Updated 12:19 PM EDT
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The NAACP has filed a complaint regarding the admissions policy at the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, saying it keeps African-American and Latino students out.

Erika Gonzalez

The NAACP has filed a complaint regarding the admissions policy at the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, saying it keeps African-American and Latino students out.

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Allegations of discrimination have hit a prestigious Alexandria high school.

Two organizations have filed a complaint against the admissions policy at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

Martina Hone with the Coalition of Silence claims the Fairfax County Public School System discriminates against minority students and those with disabilities.

"Poor Latino kids are not being identified, and I worry part of that is language," Hone said. "African-American kids are not being identified. I'm worried that's race."

Hone is concerned these students are grossly underrepresented at what some call the crown jewel of high schools in the nation.

The Fairfax chapter of the NAACP shares Hones' point of view. Together, they've filed a complaint against the county school system.

Their report indicates this year's class at Thomas Jefferson is made up of 476 students. Of those, 43 percent are white, 46 percent are Asian, and a little more than 8 percent are multiracial. Only 2.1 percent are Hispanic and a bleak 0.6 percent -- just 3 students -- are black.

"...I think that what they bring up is a valid concern," said Ryan McElveen, member-at-large for the Fairfax County Public School Board.

McElveen said the remedy could be in earlier intervention, which could happen before students even begin to think about applying to the school. "In addition to focusing on early education, we've also put more money into summer school and interventions throughout the year to help struggling students," he said.

Due to growing concern, McElveen says the board intends on looking into the issue this September.

The Education Department's civil rights office willl determine whether there's enough evidence here to warrant a full investigation.

The office has the power to withhold federal funds from schools that refuse to correct civil rights violations.

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