Lawsuit deadline over Fairfax County middle school’s college prep program

Friday is the deadline for a Fairfax County middle school to avoid a lawsuit from the Virginia Attorney General after a dispute over a college preparatory program some call discriminatory.

Last month, Attorney General Jason Miyares sent a letter demanding Cooper Middle School stop unlawfully notifying students about a selective college preparatory program.

According to the Office of the Attorney General, the McLean school sent an email to all parents offering the county's College Partnership Program but mentioned it was only for students of certain ethnic groups.

The email was directed at parents of eighth graders who want to go to college and are either Black or African American, Hispanic, still learning English, or potentially the first in their family to attend college in the U.S.

The school also requested "economically disadvantaged students" apply for the opportunity. But under Virginia's Human Rights Act, that is against the law.

"It's shocking that we continue to find such blatant examples of racial and ethnic discrimination in the Fairfax County Public School System," Miyares' letter reads. "Every student should be able to apply to the College Partnership Program and have the same opportunities as their peers, regardless of race."

Fairfax County Public Schools sent FOX 5 a statement, calling Miyares' claims "wholly inaccurate." The district says the AG's office didn't reach out to them to check on the authenticity of the reports.

During the 2022-23 school year, FCPS says 17.4% of Asian students, 8.7% of white students out of a total of 2,018 students were enrolled in the program, which is designed to encourage historically underrepresented groups to consider a path to college.

"Publishing false narratives like this undermines public school efforts to boost U.S. educational achievement," the district said.

Miyares currently has two open investigations related to Fairfax County Public Schools. The first is alleged discrimination against Asian students applying for admission into the county’s prestigious STEM school, Thomas Jefferson High School.

The second investigation has the AG looking into the failure of multiple schools in Fairfax County, including Thomas Jefferson, to timely notify students of their National Merit Award Recognitions.