- The Supreme Court declined to block a new admissions policy at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) that seeks to improve diversity of its student body by eliminating standardized testing and considering applicant backgrounds.
- Prior to the implementation of the new policy, Asian Americans composed at least 65% of TJHSST’s new admissions.
- Coalition for TJ, a group that includes parents of Asian American students, slammed the new system as discriminatory and sued Fairfax County Public Schools, which oversees TJHSST.
- A federal judge ruled in favor of the coalition in February, but an appeals court stayed the decision, which allowed TJHSST to continue enforcing its new admissions process for another year.
- The coalition then filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court, maintaining that the new system harms the interests of Asian American applicants.
- The Supreme Court’s decision precedes similar cases it will hear later this year involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to block an elite Virginia high school’s new admissions policy aimed at improving student diversity.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), one of the nation’s top high schools, eliminated standardized testing and began considering “experience factors” as part of its new admissions criteria in 2020.
The move has been criticized as discriminatory against Asian Americans, who composed at least 65% of new admissions under the old system. That figure has now dropped to 54%, while the percentage of Black students rose to 7% (from less than 2%), Hispanic students to 11% (from 3%) and white students to 22% (from 18%).
Coalition for TJ, a group that includes parents of Asian American students, has challenged the new policy in court. They clinched a temporary victory when Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Federal District Court in Alexandria ruled in their favor in February, saying that the policy “disproportionately deprived” Asian Americans of “a level playing field.”
The Fairfax County School Board, which oversees TJSHH, then filed an appeal last month with the U.S. Court of Appeals. A divided three-judge panel stayed Hilton’s decision, which allowed TJSHH to continue implementing its new policy for another year.
In response, Coalition for TJ filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court. They argued that the appeals court “gave short shrift to both the public interest in not enforcing unconstitutional policies and the interests of Asian-American students who will be forced to endure another year of harm.”
The Supreme Court denied the coalition’s request on Monday. The decision precedes affirmative action cases the court agreed in January to hear later this year involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.
Feature Image via WUSA9