A federal appeals court granted a Northern Virginia school board a stay Thursday evening, allowing a “race-based” admissions policy to remain in place.
A divided three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued the stay for the Fairfax County School Board after a federal district court issued a summary judgement in favor of parents who claimed the new admissions policy was intended to reduce the number of students of Asian descent who were admitted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
The policy eliminated a competitive admissions test and replaced it with a “holistic” policy that considers socioeconomic status, which critics have characterized as “race-based” and discriminatory against Asian Americans.
“Fairfax County School Board is likely to succeed in its appeal,” Judge Toby J. Heytens, a Biden appointee to the appeals court, wrote in the 2-1 ruling. “I have grave doubts about the district court’s conclusions regarding both disparate impact and discriminatory purpose, as well as its decision to grant summary judgment in favor of a plaintiff that would bear the burden of proof on those issues at trial.”
Virginia says NO to @fcpsnews racism. Thank you @JasonMiyaresVA @GovernorVA!
“The Attorney General is fighting against this unconstitutional policy because it unfairly punishes Asian American students due to their race.” Thank you, AG Miyares, from our kids! https://t.co/OaOQUl396B
— Coalition for TJ #WeKeepWinning! (@coalitionforTJ) March 30, 2022
“The district court found that the current admissions policy violates the Equal Protection rights of Asian-American students,” Judge Allison Jones Rushing, a Trump appointee, wrote in her dissent.
Emails obtained by Parents Defending Education via an open records request appeared to show the intent of the new policy was to reduce the number of Asian students and to increase the number of black and Hispanic students at the school.
The Coalition for TJ, which filed the lawsuit, vowed to continue its legal battle and said in a statement it was considering legal options.
“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,” the parents group said in a statement.
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