A federal judge Friday ruled that Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) officials discriminated against Asian students by lowering the bar for admission to Thomas Jefferson High School (TJHS) in a push for “diversity.”
“This is a monumental win for parents and students here in Fairfax County, but also for equal treatment in education across the country,” Erin Wilcox an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) said in a press release. “We hope this ruling sends the message that government cannot choose who receives the opportunity to attend public schools based on race or ethnicity.”
PLF was retained by a coalition of parents, and community members last March, when the FCPS School Board and Superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand decided to change the standards for admission to TJHS, a prestigious public high school, because Asians were being enrolled at a higher rate than other ethnicities.
“Because the government can’t use race or ethnicity to choose who gets to attend public schools, the Coalition has filed a federal lawsuit challenging FCPS’ race-based admissions scheme as a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee,” PLF said when it filed the suit.
Before the change, the admissions process was described as “colorblind” and “merit-based.”
“Last year, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ board and superintendent adopted an admissions policy aimed at balancing the racial groups at TJ by eliminating the admissions test, guaranteeing seats for 1.5 percent of each middle school’s eighth-grade class, and awarding bonus points for various factors such as attendance at a middle school previously underrepresented at TJ,” the PLF said. “The intended result: dramatically reducing the number of Asian-American students admitted to TJ.”
FCPS did not return a comment request.
The Supreme Court is currently weighing whether to take a similar case against Harvard University, which is alleged to have lowered admissions standards for some ethnicities, also in an attempt to lower the percentage of Asian students that attend the school.
In its own defense, Harvard says the case is not worthy of the Supreme Court’s attention.
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