Federal Judge Rules that TJ Discriminates Against Asian-American Students

Press Release | Pacific Legal Foundation

Today, a federal judge ruled that Fairfax County school officials violated the law by changing admissions requirements at the nation’s top public school to deliberately reduce the number of Asian-American students enrolled.

Last March, a coalition of parents, students, alumni, and community members filed a lawsuit challenging admissions changes at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ).

“This is a monumental win for parents and students here in Fairfax County, but also for equal treatment in education across the country,” said PLF attorney Erin Wilcox. “We hope this ruling sends the message that government cannot choose who receives the opportunity to attend public schools based on race or ethnicity.”

Asra Nomani, cofounder of Coalition for TJ and an alumni parent of a TJ student who graduated in the Class of 2021, said: “Coalition for TJ is thrilled by Judge Claude Hilton’s clear renunciation of racism and discrimination and his powerful defense of equality. For almost two years, our courageous families have battled an incalcitrant and racist school board and superintendent intent on using ‘social justice,’ ‘equity’ and ‘anti-racism’ to perpetuate racism and discrimination against Asian students and families. Today’s decision is a victory for all students, all families and the United States of America. It is a victory for equality under the law, merit education and the American Dream. We are so grateful to the team at Pacific Legal Foundation for being relentless defenders of justice. May all parents, citizens and students have the moral courage and willpower of our families to stand up for their values and beliefs, as our amazing families have done.”

Suparna Dutta, a former TJ mother and cofounder of Coalition for TJ, said, “This is a huge victory. This is like the little guy winning against the ‘equity’ machine.”

Until last year, admission to TJ was race-blind and merit-based; requirements included a standardized test, grade-point average, completion of certain math classes, and teacher recommendations. Last year, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ board and superintendent adopted an admissions policy aimed at balancing the racial groups at TJ by eliminating the admissions test, guaranteeing seats for 1.5 percent of each middle school’s eighth grade class, and awarding bonus points for various factors such as attendance at a middle school previously underrepresented at TJ. The intended result: dramatically reducing the number of Asian-American students admitted to TJ.

Pacific Legal Foundation represents the Coalition for TJ free of charge. Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division. Judge Hilton granted the Coalition’s motion for summary judgment, giving them a win in the case.

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