A federal judge on Friday ruled that public school officials in Fairfax County, Va., broke state laws when they changed admission standards in the country’s highest-ranked high school because those changes were discriminatory against Asian-Americans.
Officials at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, part of the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) system — ranked as the best school nationwide by U.S. News & World Report — was criticized last year after abolishing its entrance exam for which Asian students excelled, according to The Daily Wire.
Community leaders retained the Pacific Legal Foundation and filed a lawsuit against the school board in March 2021.
The outlet reports:
U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton for Virginia’s Eastern District ruled that the admissions process change was discriminatory toward Asian American students. The school board had adopted an equity policy to balance racial groups, thereby gutting an exam on which Asians performed well, and accepting other minorities who did not do well largely on the test.
The first class of students under the new district policy showed Asian students were admitted in lesser numbers, The Daily Wire had reported in June 2021. There was a 54% reduction in Asian students, while an overwhelming 80% of parents said in two PTA polls that the admissions policy should continue like before.
Hilton, who served a term on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, was appointed by Ronald Reagan.
“This is a monumental win for parents and students here in Fairfax County, but also for equal treatment in education across the country,” lawyer Erin Wilcox for Pacific Legal Foundation said in a statement.
“We hope this ruling sends the message that government cannot choose who receives the opportunity to attend public schools based on race or ethnicity,” Wilcox added.
The co-founder of a community coalition opposed to the FCPS policy, Asra Nomani, applauded Hilton’s ruling in a statement Friday.
“It is a victory for equality under the law, merit education and the American Dream,” said Nomani, who serves as vice president for investigations at Parents Defending Education. “We are so grateful to the team at Pacific Legal Foundation for being relentless defenders of justice.”
Hilton wrote in his ruling that “discussion of TJ admissions changes was infected with talk of racial balancing from its inception.” Not only that, Hilton ruled, school board members “sought to use geography to obtain their desired racial outcome.”
Hilton noted further:
Even aside from the statements confirming that the board’s goal was to bring racial balance to TJ, the board’s requests for racial data demonstrate discriminatory intent. … Discriminatory intent does not require racial animus. What matters is that the board acted at least in part because of, not merely in spite of, the policy’s adverse effects upon an identifiable group.
“That is the case here,” the ruling noted further. “The board’s policy was designed to increase Black and Hispanic enrollment, which would, by necessity, decrease the representation of Asian-Americans at TJ.”
Previously, admissions to the elite high school were not based on race at all but on merit. However, in addition to race-related changes, the Fairfax County Public Schools board also began awarding bonus points for things such as attendance at a middle school that normally did not see many of its students attend Thomas Jefferson.
Also, the board mandated admissions seats for 1.5 percent of every eighth-grade middle school grade in the district.
It’s not clear if the school board will appeal, but given it consists primarily of ‘woke’ leftists, that seems likely.