Judge Rules Elite School Discriminated With New Admissions Policies

A federal judge found on Friday that an elite Virginia public school discriminated against Asian Americans when it changed its admissions process to focus on ”racial balancing.”

In 2020, the Fairfax County School Board overhauled admissions to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), scrapping a standardized test that had been a requirement of the process and replacing it with a system that set aside equal numbers of TJ slots at each of the county’s middle schools, among other changes.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton said in his ruling, ”The discussion of admissions changes was infected with talk of racial balancing from its inception,” The Associated Press reported.

The school consistently ranks as one of the best public schools in the nation, and admission slots are highly competitive.

Despite enjoying a top-notch academic reputation for decades, however, Black and Hispanic students were notably underrepresented in the school’s student body, the AP said.

The racial makeup of TJ’s current freshman class — the first to be admitted under the new policies — shows significant changes occurred at the school.

While Asian representation dropped from 73% to 54%, the percentage of Black students increased from 1% to 7%, and Hispanic representation rose from 3% to 11%, according to the AP.

John Foster, a lawyer for the school system, told the AP that the school board will consider appealing Hilton’s ruling.

”The new process is blind to race, gender and national origin and gives the most talented students from every middle school a seat at TJ,” Foster said in a written statement.

The school system maintained its new admissions policies are race-neutral, saying, among other things, that the panelists who evaluate applications don’t know the race of the students they are considering.

The school system also argued that efforts to increase the numbers of Black and Hispanic students are legally permissible provided the school board had not demonstrated a desire to harm Asian Americans.

In his ruling, Hilton said that the killing of George Floyd in May 2020 by a Minneapolis police officer led to calls for racial justice across the country and that the Virginia General Assembly and Department of Education at the time were pressing schools such as TJ to develop plans to quickly boost Black and Hispanic enrollment.

”Throughout this process, Board members and high-level FCPS [Fairfax County Public Schools] officials expressed their desire to remake TJ admissions because they were dissatisfied with the racial composition of the school,” Hilton wrote.

In a statement, the Coalition for TJ, the parents group that challenged the admissions process with help from the Pacific Legal Foundation, told the AP it ”is thrilled by Judge Claude Hilton’s clear renunciation of racism and discrimination and his powerful defense of equality.”

© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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