Judicial Watch has filed an amici curiae (friend of the court) brief, along with the Allied Educational Foundation (AEF), in support of a challenge to the new race-based admissions policies for a nationally-known public high school in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is consistently rated the best public high school in the country by US News and World Report. Traditionally a large percentage of the student population, based on merit, is Asian-American.
In 2021, the Fairfax County School Board overhauled the admissions process for the school, eliminating an aptitude test in favor of a system distributing the majority of slots, instead, to the top 1.5% of students at each of the county's middle schools: a system that officials said would increase racial diversity. However, it was certain to result in admitting some non-Asian students with a lower aptitude than Asian students who would be excluded.
Parents formed a group called the Coalition for Thomas Jefferson High School and sued, alleging that the new admissions policy discriminates against Asian-Americans.
Judicial Watch and AEF are asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to affirm a lower court decision finding that Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) race-based admissions policy is unconstitutional because of its improper considerations of race.
The following information was provided by Judicial Watch and Allied Educational Foundation (AEF):
Judicial Watch and AE argue that the trial court cited ample evidence showing that the race-based admissions policies were developed with invidious discriminatory intent:
As the court recounted, less than two weeks following the death of George Floyd, TJ’s principal Ann Bonitatibus emailed the entire TJ community proclaiming that the demographics of TJ “do not reflect the racial composition in FCPS [Fairfax County Public Schools].” … The next day an FCPS Board member emailed a local legislature, describing her “anger and disappointment” regarding underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic students and predicting there would be “intentional action forthcoming” from FCPS … The record showed that Board members admonished Superintendent Braband that any forthcoming policy change needed to be “explicit in how we are going to address the under-representation of Black and Hispanic students.” … Later, at a public meeting, another Board member explained that “in looking at what has happened to George Floyd,” FCPS must now “recognize the unacceptable low numbers of African Americans that have been accepted by TJ.”
Judicial Watch and AEF further argue that Fairfax County Public Schools violated the Equal Protections clause by attempting to add their preferred races to schools instead of created an honest balance:
But the truth is that FCPS [Fairfax County Public Schools] was not interested in improving TJ’s diversity – TJ’s student body was already diverse. Rather, FCPS sought to change the racial mix by increasing the representation of underrepresented, preferred minorities (Blacks and Hispanics) to the disadvantage of other minorities (Asian Americans). To that end, an FCPS Board member declared that it “need[ed] to be explicit in how [it was] going to address the under-representation of Black and Hispanic students.”
Judicial Watch and AEF also argue:
[Fairfax County Public Schools] makes the incredible claim that it enacted the new policy without knowing the effect it would have on TJ’s student admissions and, as a result, there can be no discriminatory intent. It is quite remarkable that FCPS contends it adopted a new admissions policy for the country’s top public high school without any understanding as to the impact it would have on students. This claim is even more incredible considering that the policy change was prompted by the Board’s response to the civil upheaval following George Floyd’s murder and after intense pressure by state officials to improve the racial balance of TJ’s admissions. It is certainly a far cry from the “explicit” response promised by FCPS Board members.
FCPS cannot contend both that it was ignorant as to the effects of the policy and that it knowingly enacted the policy “in spite of” the impact it would have on Asian American applicants.
Moreover … here there was evidence in the record that the policy was enacted “because it would accomplish the collateral goal of” reducing Asian American representation in TJ’s admissions.
“The courts should reject Fairfax County Schools unconstitutional scheme to limit Asian enrollment in its top high school,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Read more about this filing at the following link: (Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board et al. (No. 22-1280)).
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