Northern Virginia

Group Protests Thomas Jefferson High School Admissions Rules

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On the eve of a court hearing over the matter, a group of parents and others protested admissions changes at what is often ranked the number one public high school in the United States.

The group The Coalition for TJ claims the revised admissions process for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County discriminates against Asian American students.

Members of the group gathered outside the Fairfax County School Board meeting before going inside to speak. Many carried signs that said “UnFairfax.”

“Thanks to you, Fairfax School Board, we’re experiencing systematic discrimination blatantly based on race, not meritocracy,” one member said.

They believe the revised admissions process for Thomas Jefferson High School – designed to address criticism that Black and Hispanic students were underrepresented – is discriminatory.

In 2019, Asian American students made up 73% of the school’s student body. That dropped to 54% after the changes in 2020.

The school board scrapped a standardized test that had been at the heart of the admissions process. It opted instead for a process that sets aside slots at each of the county’s middle schools.

A parents’ group sued in federal court. Last month, a federal judge ruled in their favor.

The school board is considering an appeal.

A court hearing is scheduled for Friday on the school board’s request to delay the judge’s ruling.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that would ban racial discrimination at the state’s twelve elite Governor’s Schools, of which Thomas Jefferson is one. Gov. Glenn Youngkin says he looks forward to signing it into law. 

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