Suit Against Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology

Will the admissions practices at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology withstand a judge’s ruling?

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, an elite American magnet school in northern Virginia and home to many Ivy Coach students past and present (hey, when one of our students makes headlines for earning admission to each of the eight Ivy League schools in addition to Stanford, word gets out!), found itself defending its admissions policies in a court of law this week. As our readers may remember from November of 2020, over a dozen parents filed a lawsuit against Fairfax County Public Schools over its proposed changes to the admissions process to its elite state-chartered magnet high school, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. A month prior to the filing of the lawsuit, Fairfax County Public Schools announced that it would be eliminating its standardized test, which long served as an important factor in the admissions process to the magnet public school. So who is upset over the change? Well, when Asian American representation at TJ took a dive after the change while Black representation surged, the Asian American community — a group that includes Indian Americans as well, let’s not forget! — was up in arms. So what’s going on with the case against TJ?

As Michelle Thompson reports for The Daily Mail in a piece entitled “Judge to decide lawsuit alleging admissions discrimination, “During the 2021-22 school year – the first curricular year since the new policy took effect – Asian admission dropped from 73 percent to 53 percent, according to district data. The percentage of black students rose from one percent during the 2020-21 school year to seven percent this year. Hispanic representation ratcheted from three to 11 percent and white enrollment jumped from 18 percent to 22 percent at the Alexandria school. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology – known for churning out top-tier students who go on to attend Ivy League schools – previously accepted students based on a ‘race-neutral standardized admissions test,’ the lawsuit said. That policy was replaced with a ‘merit based lottery’ after officials began feeling pressure to diversity enrollment following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis cop. The case has garnered significant attention in part because of the school’s prestigious status: it was ranked the best public high school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report…The new policy guarantees admission to the top students at each of the county’s middle schools. It also takes into account factors such as whether the child is eligible for free or reduced-price lunches because of his or her family’s income…U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton gave no indication at Tuesday’s hearing of how he might rule, but he said he sees no reason to hold a trial on the matter. It means his ruling will decide the case, though either side will be free to appeal.”

We’ll be following the developments in the lawsuit brought by these parents against Fairfax County Public Schools over the days to come. As it seems unlikely that the case will be headed for trial, this judge’s ruling can very quickly and decisively — pending appeal, of course — change the admissions process and makeup of the prestigious magnet school for years to come. TJ parents, we know you’re regular readers of our college admissions blog. Heck, we’ve worked with many of your kids. Where do you stand on this litigation? How do you think the judge will rule? Let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

 
 

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