Fairfax County Public Schools pledges to fix diversity issue at elite high school after backlash

An elite Northern Virginia high school’s admission process is at the center of controversy.

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is under scrutiny for accepting only a few African American students and not reflecting the area’s demographics.

By many accounts, this is a decades-old issue that is coming to head now.

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We’re told Virginia's secretary of education is involved, formulating recommendations, as are many parents, some who want the admissions process to stay the same and others who want an overhaul.

The science and technology high school is the number one ranked public high school nationwide, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Yet, critics tell us the school’s student body does not match Northern Virginia’s racial or socioeconomic demographics.

A group of Thomas Jefferson alumni advocating for change to the admissions process say so few African American students were admitted this year that it could not be listed due to privacy concerns. 

There were 486 students accepted this year. Of the school’s 1,809 students, only 31 are African American. That’s fewer than two percent

“I’m part of the number of alumni who really are concerned about this issue really the last few months when we learned the number of Black students is too few to report,” said Anne Jaskot, a Thomas Jefferson alumnus.

The school’s parent-teacher-student association emailed FOX this statement saying, “The TJ PTSA is taking no official position on the TJ admissions issue. Our school and PTSA serve a diverse group of people with different backgrounds, beliefs and values and we, as PTSA, value and respect all of them and encourage all our members to speak up.”

The Fairfax County School Board is proposing a merit-based lottery system so the student body will reflect the area’s demographics. They’re also discussing ensuring an anti-racist, anti-bias curriculum and making sure it’s incorporated into social studies classes across the entire school district.