High School Admissions Fight Headed for Supreme Court

EdNews Virginia | May 24, 2023

In a victory for the Fairfax County School Board, a federal judge overturned a lower court’s finding that new admissions rules at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ”) resulted in unlawful discrimination. Following the admissions changes, the number of Asian students enrolled in the public magnet school fell significantly.

“As in Feeney, ‘nothing in the record demonstrates’ that the challenged action by the Board ‘was originally devised . . . because it would accomplish the collateral goal’ of excluding Asian American students from TJ,” Judge Robert King wrote for the 2-to-1 majority.

In a dissent, Judge Allison Rushing wrote: “The undisputed evidence shows that the Board successfully engineered the Policy to reduce Asian student enrollment at TJ — while increasing enrollment of every other racial group — consistent with the Board’s discriminatory purpose.”

Attorney Erin Wilcox vowed to appeal the latest court decision. “Discrimination against students based on their race is wrong and violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection,” Wilcox said yesterday. “We look forward to asking the Supreme Court to end this illegal practice once and for all.”