Judge Strikes Down Elite Virginia High School Admissions RulesAuthor: Yuvi February 26, 2022
In an email to the TJ community, Ann Bonitatibus, the school’s principal, wrote that “we each have a responsibility to our community to speak up and take action that combats racism,” adding that the TJ community has “did not reflect racial composition” in Fairfax County public schools.
Over the next few months, the Fairfax County School Board in a series of meetings considered a number of changes to the admissions process, which the Coalition for TJs said was hasty and lacked transparency – an argument with which the judge eventually agreed. Happened. In October, the board voted to do away with the standardized testing requirement, quickly attracting objections from parents, many of whom paid significant sums for test preparation courses, and alumni who thought it was. Will undermine the reputation of the school as a rigid academic force.
In December, the board approved the new admissions process, which, in addition to guaranteeing eligibility to students in each middle school in the school system, added four “experience factors”, such as whether students were financially disadvantaged or the process of learning English. In.
The school argued in court that the factors it intended to address included many things besides race – following the changes, for example, the percentage of economically disadvantaged students increased from less than 1 percent of the incoming class to one. exceeded a quarter. But Judge Hilton, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, was not convinced, arguing that internal emails and messages, as well as board members consulted with racial data, “make clear that diversity primarily means from racial diversity.”
The school board could have achieved through other measures, such as expanding the size of TJ’s student body or offering free exam prep courses, he wrote. But the school devised a policy “to increase Black and Hispanic enrollment” that, he wrote, “will, by necessity, decrease the representation of Asian Americans.”
Julia McCaskill, who has three daughters at Fairfax County schools — two of them at TJ’s — said parents gathered outside the school following Judge Hilton’s ruling, holding a small celebration despite the cold.
“We are very pleased,” said Ms McCaskill, who is a Chinese American and was involved in the litigation. “We think common sense prevailed because the school may be in denial about race, but it seems to be race.”