Thomas Jefferson HS parents hold rally protesting discriminatory admissions policy

A group of Fairfax County parents and supporters rallied Thursday afternoon, calling out the school board over an admissions policy they say reduced the number of Asian-American students enrolled at the Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology.  

It’s an argument they took all the way to court. And a federal judge sided with them, citing changes to the policy as discriminatory.  

However, some say they are upset the school board plans to appeal that judge’s decision. 

Asra Nomani, the co-founder of the Coalition for TJ, said they want the admission process to be based solely on merit. 

"We are standing up and saying Fairfax County needs to stop this discrimination," Nomani said. "It is systemic discrimination; it is systemic racism."   

According to the FCPS website, the admission process is still based on merit. 

RELATED: Lawsuit says new Thomas Jefferson HS admissions policy discriminates against Asian-Americans

The district said those changes to the admissions process were made in an effort to give lower-income minority students a better chance of getting in. 

According to the FCPS website, Black students increased from 1.23% in the 2020-2021 school year to 7.09% this school year; Hispanic students increased from 3.29% to 11.27%. 

Asian-American students still make up most of the class of 2025 at 54.36%, a decrease from 73.05% the year prior. 

"They basically put in place a purge of Asian students," Nomani said. "They need to go back to an admissions process that accepted students based on merit alone." 

Jinuwei Chen, Vice President of the TJ Alumni Action Group, said the policy is still based on merit. 

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"There’s a lot of anti-Asian hate going on right now, and I don’t think; this is not an example." 

Chen says there’s still a GPA requirement and an essay to fill out for the application process.  

"They didn’t do it by tweaking racial quotas or anything they did it by targeting socioeconomic factors," Chen said. "Which is why as you saw when they made changes that targeted eliminating the admissions fee, eliminating the standardized test which has become increasingly preparable over the years, that increased equity; that made it more accessible for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds to apply and make it in." 

Nomani suggested the school system create a second school. 

"We should not all be fighting over the same pie," Nomani said. "They should make another pie. They should create a middle school that becomes a pipeline to TJ where the kids are actually going to be going into the advanced math and science [classes], so they’re prepared."