The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit against Fairfax County Public Schools, claiming that the changes in admission policy for the elite Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) were specifically aimed at reducing the number of Asian Americans admitted, WDVM-TV reports. TJ is currently ranked as the No. 1 high school in the nation, according to U.S. News.
The case plaintiff, Coalition for TJ, consists of Fairfax county residents, many of whom are parents of Asian American students or prospective students. The lawsuit alleges that the new admission policy racially discriminates against Asian American students in violation of the 14th Amendment.
The changes were passed in fall of 2020 for the class of 2025 and beyond and include the elimination of a standardized admission test, $100 application fee and teacher recommendations and the implementation of a “holistic review process.” The top 1.5% of applicants who meet the minimum evaluation requirements will be offered admission.
According to admission data released by TJ, the class of 2024 ethnicity breakdown is 73 percent Asian, 17.7 percent White and 3.3 percent Hispanic. The admission rate of Black students was marked as “too small for reporting.”
Opponents of the new admission policy argue that the school’s goal of increasing Black and Latinx diversity within the student body will only result in significantly decreasing Asian American enrollment without any tangible improvement in the admission of underrepresented minority students.
This is the second lawsuit filed against Fairfax County Public Schools regarding TJ’s new admission policy. In February 2021, the Fairfax County Circuit denied an injunction request to require that TJ reinstate its standardized admissions test, according to Patch.
TJ is not the only elite high school that has been facing backlash for changes to its admission policy. Lowell High School in San Francisco, California similarly sparked controversy earlier this year with its choice to switch to a lottery-based admissions system.
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