Virginia AG launches civil rights investigation against Thomas Jefferson High School

Jason Miyares speaks at an event.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares speaks to the crowd during an inaugural celebration Saturday Jan. 15, 2022, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia AG launches civil rights investigation against Thomas Jefferson High School

Virginias Attorney General Jason Miyares announced Wednesday that his office would be launching a state civil rights investigation against Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County.

In a Wednesday press conference, Miyares cited recent reports that the prestigious Virginia magnet school had withheld certificates from students who had been recognized as National Merit commended scholars, as well as the school’s 2020 overhaul of its admissions process that substantially affected the number of Asian students admitted to the school.


“No student should be treated differently because of their race. Students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology are amongst the brightest in the nation, yet some have been punished in the name of ‘equity.’ Racism and race-based government decision-making in any form is wrong and unlawful under Virginia’s Human Rights Act,” Miyares said in a statement.

The announcement comes a day after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) requested Miyares investigate the reports that the prestigious high school had failed to notify students who had been recognized as commended scholars by the National Merit Scholarship Program before the deadline for early college applications, potentially affecting a student’s college admission prospects.

The initial report from Fairfax County parent and activist Asra Nomani accused the school of withholding the certificates for “equity” reasons and said the practice had been ongoing for five years.

But the school district forcefully denied the accusation and said the notification delay in 2022 was a “unique situation due to human error.”

“As soon as this issue regarding the fall 2022 notifications came to light, students and their families were notified, and staff sent emails and made follow-up calls to each college where these students had applied to inform them of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation commendations,” the school district said.

Miyares said his office would be investigating the school for potential violations of the Virginia Human Rights Act, not just over the National Merit awards but also for its controversial admissions process enacted in 2020.

“Every American, every Virginian, should be outraged that a child in Virginia today has been denied their dreams because of their racial background,” Miyares said at the press conference Wednesday. “In America, the only state-sanctioned form of bigotry is anti-Asian bigotry. … It is wrong, and we’re gonna hold folks accountable.”


Following Youngkin’s letter, Fairfax County Public Schools said in a statement to WJLA that it shared the governor’s “desire to get to the facts surrounding the delay in notification of National Merit Commendations at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology for 2022.”

“Our preliminary understanding is that the delay this fall was a unique situation due to human error,” the district told the outlet. “The investigation will continue to examine our records in further detail and we will share key findings with our community. In addition, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid is meeting with families this evening to listen to their concerns. Should the Virginia Attorney General’s office initiate an investigation, FCPS stands ready to work with our partners at the state level.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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