ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — Thomas Jefferson High School’s class of 2025 will be its most diverse class yet. Fairfax County Superintendent Scott Brabrand is excited to see more students from different backgrounds. But some residents said this is not the ultimate objective.
This is the first class to apply under the new admissions process. Although changes have been made, a coalition group still wants to see more done.
“We have so many talented children all across Fairfax County Public Schools and we want to make sure we’re providing them the support so they can maximize their talents,” said Brabrand.
Since raising the minimum GPA — along with dropping the $100 application fee and standardized admissions test — the class of 2025 saw an increase in female students, black students, white and Hispanic students.
“Students are identified only by a number. Admission evaluators are not able to know the race, ethnicity, or gender of any applicant,” said Brabrand.
However, the Coalition for TJ — a group of parents, students and alumni — filed a lawsuit against the school because they believed that the admissions process was racially discriminating against Asian American students. The organization has been making its voice heard since last summer.
“Students that were offered admissions to TJ for this upcoming fall dropped 20% since last year. That’s a 20% drop almost in one year and it’s hard to see that as anything other than the result or process that takes into account your race when your deciding who gets to go to this school, and this simply violates the constitution. You can’t take race into an account when you’re deciding who gets to go to a school,” said Erin Wilcox, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation.
Concerned members in the group say there can be more race neutral practices, the school district can do to increase diversity.
“I think this is a bigger problem than just manipulating the TJ admissions standards and that’s something I think the school board is aware of and I do hope that they address,” said Wilcox.
The school recently made changes to the admissions process, following tense public input sessions. The Coalition for TJ members said they will continue to fight and take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court if possible because they believe this is not just a Fairfax County issue.