Virginia school system ‘discriminated against’ Asian Americans, federal judge says

Students raise their hands Ratiger/iStock

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton, who ruled last month that new admissions policies at a prestigious northern Virginia magnet school amounted to illegal ‘racial balancing’, has denied a request to delay the implementation of his decision on Friday, NPR reported.

Fairfax County Public Schools argued they couldn’t adjust their admissions policies with selection for next year’s class already underway, but Hilton said they’ve had more than enough time to devise a backup plan. He warned of “irreparable harm to students who have been discriminated against” if the admissions policy remains in place for a second year.

In an attempt to increase racial diversity at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the school board rejected the school’s 2020 standardized admissions test. A parent group represented by Pacific Legal Conservative Foundation sued, arguing that the new system discriminates against Asian American applicants.

According to The Washington Post and NPR, the new policies included the removal of the standardized test and the $100 application fee,”[ting] apart from slots in each of the county’s colleges,” and taking into account “experience factors” such as socioeconomic status.

The changes have succeeded in increasing the diversity of the school. Asian American students made up 73% of the class of 2024 but only 54% of the class of 2025, the first admitted without the standardized test. The representation of blacks and Hispanics increased from 1% to 7% and from 3% to 11%, respectively. According to census data, Fairfax County is 20.1% Asian, 10.6% Black, and 16.5% Hispanic or Latino.

The U.S. Supreme Court said in January it would hear challenges to universities’ affirmative action policies by a conservative advocacy group that claims the policies discriminate against Asian American applicants.

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