FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Seventeen parents have filed a lawsuit against the Fairfax County School Board and Superintendent Scott Brabrand for “illegally” changing the admissions process at Thomas Jefferson (TJ) High School.
The Coalition for TJ, a group of parents and students against the admissions changes, held a press conference outside of the Fairfax County Courthouse on Thursday.
They announced that the lawsuit alleges the school board and superintendent violated state laws requiring that an aptitude test be used as part of the admissions process to identify gifted learners.
The new changes eliminate the admissions test, as well as implement a lottery-based system.
While the changes are intended to create more diversity in the school, parents believe it will ruin the school’s credibility and counteractively create less diversity.
Attorney Bill Hurd spoke to WDVM about the legal grounds of the lawsuit, stating that eliminating the admissions test is illegal. In order to identify gifted students, a “nationally norm-referenced aptitude test” must be administered.
“It is classified by the state as a school for gifted students. ‘Gifted’ has a special meaning in the law, and in order to identify a student as being gifted, there needs to be a nationally recognized test given,” said Hurd.
Plaintiff and TJ parent Srinivas Akella expressed his disappointment in the decision by the school board and superintendent. “The school board and FCPS arbitrarily made changes to the admissions process in violation of state law,” Akella said in a press release. “I have faith in our judiciary, and I am petitioning them as a last avenue since there was no other recourse left for me to pursue.”