June 29, 2023, FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – The Coalition for TJ, a grassroots group of dedicated individuals committed to protecting equal rights in America, is thrilled by the significant victory in the cases of Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Supreme Court's rulings in favor of Students for Fair Admissions set a historic precedent that ensures fairness and equal treatment in the college admissions process.
In light of this triumph, we are even more confident in our ongoing battle, Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County Public Schools, in defense of merit education, equal rights and fair treatment for Asian Americans. The Coalition for TJ firmly believes that every student deserves an equal opportunity to access quality education.
We have witnessed firsthand at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology the potential consequences of so-called “race-neutral” policies masquerading as efforts to promote diversity in admissions but actually practicing anti-Asian racism.
With the legal acumen of our lawyers at Pacific Legal Foundation, the Coalition for TJ will persevere in its efforts to ensure that race-neutral admissions policies do not perpetuate discrimination or disadvantage any racial or ethnic group. We stand united in our belief that diversity, inclusivity and equal rights are the cornerstones of a just society.
We will appeal the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision that earlier this year reversed federal judge Claude Hilton’s order, demanding Fairfax County Public Schools end its discriminatory and “patently unconstitutional” admissions process at TJ.
Leaders from the Coalition for TJ expressed their optimism and unwavering dedication to protecting equal rights for all:
TJHSST Class of 2025 Admissions: FCAG Analysis
The Fairfax County Association for the Gifted (FCAG) is a community organization engaged in advocacy for gifted children and their families. The analysis provided here is based on data recently obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on TJ Admissions.
● Over 38% of Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) students admitted to TJ Class of 2025 were not participating in Level IV AAP coursework in 8th grade. These students constitute over 20% of admitted students to TJ Class of 2025.
● Students receiving Advanced Academic Program Level IV services were equally likely to be admitted to TJ as students overall, even though Level IV students take the most academically challenging courses in English, social studies and science offered by the county to eighth graders (18% for each).
● Compared to TJ Class of 2024, the proportion of students in Class of 2025 admitted with the minimal required math background of Algebra 1 in 8th grade increased sevenfold, from 4.5% to 31%, while the proportion of students admitted who had completed Algebra 2 or higher in 8th grade decreased by almost 50%, from 35% to 18%.
● Fairfax had the lowest admission rate to TJ Class of 2025 among all reporting counties. Approximately 16% of Fairfax County applicants were admitted, while over 27% of Arlington County applicants and over 30% of Prince William County applicants were admitted.
2-1 Fourth Circuit Judges Allow Illegal Admissions
In a 2-1 vote, two judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals voted to grant Fairfax County Public Schools a stay on the ruling by Judge Claude Hilton, thereby allowing the school system to continue its admissions policy deemed illegal, unconstitutional and discriminatory against Asian American students.
Justice delayed is justice denied. Judge Toby Heytens and Judge Robert Bruce King of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals have made a grave error in allowing Fairfax County Public Schools to continue its illegal admissions process that discriminates against Asian American students applying to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
If the judges’ decision stands, we would see Fairfax County Public Schools usher in a second class of students to America’s No. 1 public high school through an unconstitutional race-based admissions process. In her dissenting decision, Judge Allison Jones Rushing correctly said that ‘everyone—even temporarily frustrated applicants and their families—ultimately benefits from a public-school admissions process not tainted by unconstitutional discrimination.’
With our lawyers at Pacific Legal Foundation, we are considering options for preserving equal opportunity under the law in the United States of America. Just as Virginia school boards engaged in a ‘Massive Resistance’ in the 1950s to equal rights for Black students, Fairfax County Public Schools is perpetuating a new racism against Asian students today. Our cause for equal rights will prevail.
The New York Times
The Associated Press
A federal judge ruled Friday that school officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, violated the law by altering admissions requirements at the nation’s top-ranked high school, since the changes discriminated against Asian Americans.
February 25, 2022
Asra Nomani, cofounder of Coalition for TJ and an alumni parent of a TJ student who graduated in the Class of 2021, said: “Coalition for TJ is thrilled by Judge Claude Hilton’s clear renunciation of racism and discrimination and his powerful defense of equality. For almost two years, our courageous families have battled an incalcitrant and racist school board and superintendent intent on using ‘social justice,’ ‘equity’ and ‘anti-racism’ to perpetuate racism and discrimination against Asian students and families.”
The New York Times
By Erin Wilcox
It all started with an email.
Last summer, as George Floyd’s death rocked the nation and COVID-19 kept many Fairfax County Public Schools students at home, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology principal Dr. Ann Bonitatibus sent an email urging students and parents to “think of the privileges you hold that others may not.”
By Harry Jackson
Many TJ parents and students protested the removal of a race-blind admissions process to TJ. When our concerns were dismissed, our only option to protect TJ’s commitment to excellence was to file suit in federal court. We argue that the new subjective race-based admission standards, aimed at achieving a “better” racial balance at TJ, violate the constitutional rights of the school’s Asian students.
Media can download our photos and videos for free use at this link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1daKLrJjCqrnGkmtmC7ZcXFFNoCNCjKer?usp=sharing.
We hope you will know our families and recognize they are ordinary families like all of us.
Watch our March 10, 2021, press conference. Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Erin Wilcox outlined our lawsuit suing Fairfax County Public Schools for discrimination. Hear our parents.
Download our video for free use by the media.
March 11, 2022
Coalition for TJ Statement:
Today, the federal district court denied Fairfax County School Board's motion for a stay
of the court's Feb. 25 judgment.
Coalition for TJ, a grassroots parent organization, was thrilled that Judge Claude Hilton was not swayed by Fairfax County Public School attorneys who argued that they could not alter admissions at this time. Judge Hilton was very clear in his guidance to these same attorneys in November 2021 that they be prepared to immediately change course in their admission process should he rule that process unconstitutional, discriminatory and in violation of the 14th amendment. When that ruling came February 25, 2022, it was clear FCPS did not adhere to the recommendations of the court - failing students and the community yet again. Many minority groups have come out in support of the Coalition for TJ and have asked FCPS to stop fighting this ruling and to spend the energy, effort and taxpayer dollars on effectively educating all Fairfax students - instead of continually fighting for an ideology and race-based discriminatory process.
FCPS is not listening to the voices of the community who want the focus on academic excellence, resources for all students and the strengthening of the K-8 pipeline so all Fairfax student can be competitive in obtaining merit-based, race-blind admission to TJ.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is the #1 high school in America. It bears the district honor of being an Academic Year Governor’s School. It belongs to all of the Commonwealth - not just to the 12 school board member of the Fairfax County School Board, who seem obsessed with dragging the school back to the days of discrimination and race-based policies.
See ruling below.
Alexandria, Virginia; February 25, 2022: Today, federal Judge Claude Hilton ruled that Fairfax County school officials violated the law by changing admissions requirements at the nation’s top public school to deliberately reduce the number of Asian-American students enrolled.
In March 2021, a coalition of parents, students, alumni, and community members filed a lawsuit challenging admissions changes at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ).
“This is a monumental win for parents and students here in Fairfax County, but also for equal treatment in education across the country,” said PLF attorney Erin Wilcox. “We hope this ruling sends the message that government cannot choose who receives the opportunity to attend public schools based on race or ethnicity.”
The Coalition for TJ said: "The Coalition for TJ is thrilled that Judge Claude Hilton has ruled in the favor of our parents, students, families and communities! In a scathing decision, Judge Claude Hilton ruled that Fairfax County Public Schools discriminated against Asian-American students in its new admission process to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. In his ruling, Judge Hilton stated, "The Board's main problem is its focus on the goal to have TJ reflect the demographics of the surrounding area, described primarily in racial terms. Far from a compelling interest, racial balancing for its own sake is 'patently unconstitutional'...The Board cannot transform racial balancing into a compelling interest 'simply by relabeling it racial diversity.'" This ruling is a victory for Coalition for TJ and for parents everywhere who are questioning the unlawful acts of runaway school boards. Fairfax County Public School officials colluded to discriminate against students. Judge Hilton has ruled this discrimination is unconstitutional. Coalition for TJ looks forward to a return to merit-based admission at America's #1 high school, a Governor's School."
Asra Nomani, cofounder of Coalition for TJ and an alumni parent of a TJ student who graduated in the Class of 2021, said: “Coalition for TJ is thrilled by Judge Claude Hilton’s clear renunciation of racism and discrimination and his powerful defense of equality. For almost two years, our courageous families have battled an incalcitrant and racist school board and superintendent intent on using ‘social justice,’ ‘equity’ and ‘anti-racism’ to perpetuate racism and discrimination against Asian students and families. Today’s decision is a victory for all students, all families and the United States of America. It is a victory for equality under the law, merit education and the American Dream. We are so grateful to the team at Pacific Legal Foundation for being relentless defenders of justice. May all parents, citizens and students have the moral courage and willpower of our families to stand up for their values and beliefs, as our amazing families have done.”
Suparna Dutta, a former TJ mother and cofounder of Coalition for TJ, said, “This is a huge victory. This is like the little guy winning against the ‘equity’ machine.”
Until last year, admission to TJ was race-blind and merit-based; requirements included a standardized test, grade-point average, completion of certain math classes, and teacher recommendations. Last year, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ board and superintendent adopted an admissions policy aimed at balancing the racial groups at TJ by eliminating the admissions test, guaranteeing seats for 1.5 percent of each middle school’s eighth grade class, and awarding bonus points for various factors such as attendance at a middle school previously underrepresented at TJ. The intended result: dramatically reducing the number of Asian-American students admitted to TJ.
Pacific Legal Foundation represents the Coalition for TJ free of charge. Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division. Judge Hilton granted the Coalition’s motion for summary judgment, giving them a win in the case.
We love Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and we congratulate every student accepted for admission into the TJ Class of 2025. Fairfax County Public Schools has also broken the hearts of many deserving students by waging a crusade against Asian students at the school, first by proposing a random lottery and later by implementing the current race-balanced “holistic” admissions system that amounts to social engineering.
School district leaders eliminated the merit-based, race-blind admissions test to the school and replaced it with a race-based admissions process that targeted Asian students with discrimination.
The percentage of Asian students offered admissions to TJ plummeted from 73 percent last year to 54 percent this year. Asians were the only demographic group whose numbers decreased from last year to this year, while the number of white students in this TJ class increased a whopping 43 percent to 123 students accepted this year from 86 last year.
We seek fairness for all families and students, and we reject the racism of the ideology of “critical race theory” that promotes admissions lotteries and race quotas while killing merit. We will continue to fight for an American Dream in which all people have equal protection under the law.
By Hannah Natanson
Fairfax County Public Schools is facing a second lawsuit over changes officials made last year to the admissions process at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, its flagship STEM magnet school.The suit, filed in federal court Wednesday, alleges the changes are discriminatory against Asian Americans and therefore violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
By Matthew Barakat
Erin Wilcox, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, said at a press conference Wednesday that the policies themselves are discriminatory,
but the intent is made even more clear by statements
from board members who said they want the changes
to result in a student body with a racial makeup that matches the county's demographics.
By Emily Leayman
The Coalition with TJ's lawsuit claims the admissions changes intend to reduce the number of Asian American students admitted to the school.
On Wednesday, the Coalition for TJ filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the admissions changes at Thomas High School for Science and Technology.
By FOX 5 Digital Team and Sierra Fox
were made to purposely reduce the number of
Asian-American students accepted.
At a disturbing time of increased attacks against Asian Americans nationwide, the Coalition for TJ, representing about 15,000 mostly Asian, mostly immigrant families of color supporting Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, strongly objects to racist anti-Asian views expressed by Virginia State Sen. Louise Lucas, the Virginia NAACP and the Fairfax NAACP in recent days.