Virginia school system 'discriminated against' Asian Americans, federal judge says

Students raising their hands
(Image credit: Ratiger/iStock)

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

Fairfax County Public Schools argued that they cannot adjust their admissions policies with selection for next year's class already underway, but Hilton said they have had more than enough time to devise a back-up plan. He warned of "irreparable harm to the students who have been found to 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 threw out the school's standardized admission test in 2020. A parents' group represented by the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation sued, arguing that the new system discriminated against Asian American applicants.

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According to The Washington Post and NPR, the new policies included scrapping the standardized test and the $100 application fee, "set[ting] aside slots at each of the county's middle schools," and accounting for "experience factors" such as socioeconomic status.

The changes did successfully increase the school's diversity. Asian American students made up 73 percent of the class of 2024 but only 54 percent of the class of 2025, the first admitted without the standardized test. Black and Hispanic representation jumped from one percent to seven percent and from three percent to 11 percent, respectively. According to census data, Fairfax County is 20.1 percent Asian, 10.6 percent Black, and 16.5 percent Hispanic or Latino.

The U.S. Supreme Court said in January it will hear challenges to university affirmative action policies brought by a conservative advocacy group that claims these policies discriminate against Asian American applicants.

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