Virginia school district under investigation for alleged violation of human rights act


Several schools in Fairfax County, Virginia are under investigation after they allegedly failed to give students their National Merit Scholarship awards in a timely manner, before many students needed them for college applications.

According to a press release from his office, Attorney General Jason Miyares opened the investigation into unlawful discrimination against the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) on Jan. 4.

Five days later, Miyares expanded the investigation to include the entire Fairfax County Public Schools system after receiving reports that other schools had also withheld awards, according to a separate press release from the attorney general.

Fairfax County public schools are also investigating through an independent third party, their superintendent said in a Jan. 4 letter.

“Our current understanding is that the delay in this fall’s TJHSST was a unique situation due to human error, but we will leave our investigation to reach definitive conclusions,” said Principal Dr. Michelle Reid of Fairfax County.

Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria is nearly 66% Asian, according to Fairfax County Public Schools Demographics.

The school is also under scrutiny for its admissions policy, which Miyares said in a statement has significantly reduced the number of Asian American students in recent years.

“I’ve already said — in America, the only state-sanctioned form of bigotry is anti-Asian bigotry, and it’s wrong, and we’re going to hold people accountable,” Miyares said in a Jan. 4 news conference. “To the extent that the withholding of any of these awards at Thomas Jefferson High School was based on race, national origin, or other protected status under the Virginia Human Rights Act is unlawful.”

The National Merit Scholarship program is an “academic competition for recognition and college scholarships,” the website says.

Students should have been notified between March and June if they received any commendations or received one of the program’s three scholarships, the website said.

Miyares explained the importance of the commendations and awards of merit and how they can affect college applications and admissions for students.

“Every American, every Virginian should be outraged that a kid in Virginia today would be denied their dreams because of their race, period,” Miyares said at the news conference.

In an interview with CNN affiliate WJLA on Sunday, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) said the incident was the result of an “insane focus on equal outcomes for all students at all costs.”

“This overarching effort for equal results is hurting Virginia’s children and future. The failure of numerous Fairfax County schools to notify students of their national merit awards could serve as a human rights violation in Virginia. If the attorney general agrees to my request to investigate the matter, we will look into the matter,” said a statement shared by the governor’s office on Monday.

Colleges to which students had applied were notified of the awards or commendations they had received, according to a Jan. 9 letter from Reid.

CNN reached out to the superintendent for comment Monday.

The Attorney General “is reviewing every complaint and allegation of possible violations of the Virginia Human Rights Act at high schools in Northern Virginia,” said Miyares spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita.

“We encourage any student or parent who believes they have been discriminated against to file a complaint with our Civil Rights Office on our website,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement to CNN.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

| |
Back to top button