“Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology,” located in Fairfax County, Virginia, enjoys the reputation of being the “top-ranked public high school” in the United States.
In 2022, according to media reports, the latest admission system implemented by Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology sparked a lawsuit:
In an effort to achieve student body diversity, the school changed its admission system, thereby eliminating the mandatory requirements of three standardized tests, a research paper submission, and teacher recommendation letters for applicants.
The new admission system includes a requirement for applicants to successfully complete rigorous middle school courses with higher average grades.
Furthermore, the school conducts a “comprehensive review” of students’ backgrounds during the admission process, including their families’ socioeconomic status. In the new evaluation system, an applicant’s race is not considered.
In previous admission processes, Asian American students accounted for at least 65% of the total incoming class at the school. Under the new admission policy, this proportion dropped to 54%. Meanwhile, the proportions of African American, Hispanic, and even Caucasian students increased. Consequently, many Asian American parents filed a lawsuit.
Subsequently, a federal judge ruled that the school’s newly implemented admission system amounted to promoting racial balancing, which violated the Constitution.
However, in response to the request of the school district where Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is located, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals suspended the initial ruling by the federal judge and allowed the high school to continue using the new admission system during the appeal process.
On May 23rd, the U.S. Court of Appeals for The Fourth Circuit delivered a verdict in support of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, one of the most prestigious public schools in the United States, affirming that the school’s admission process does not discriminate against Asian American students.
In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to suggest any discriminatory intent behind the school’s changes in its admission practices.
Judge Robert B. King, speaking on behalf of the majority, stated that Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology had a legitimate interest in “broadening the diversity of student backgrounds.”
John Foster, the legal counsel for Fairfax County Public Schools, said, “We firmly believe that this admissions plan is fair. It provides a fair opportunity for all eligible applicants to gain entry into Jefferson.”
This case is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.