Chicago — The Supreme Court declined to block a Fairfax County Virginia high school from using a new admissions plan that a community group says discriminates against Asian Americans.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology changed its admission system in 2020, with the goal of achieving more diversity among its students. After the makeup of Asian students in admitted classes dropped from 65% to 54%, a group of parents sued. This led to a federal judge ruling the new system amounted to unconstitutional racial balancing. However, the 4th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals put that ruling on hold, allowing the school to continue using the system while the case is on appeal.
A high grade-point average in middle school courses is now a requirement for the new system, according to the news source. The race of a student is not taken into account when conducting a background check. Students no longer have to take standardized tests, write essays, or get recommendations from their teachers at the school.
The parent group argued the new system was unfair, saying it was “intended to discriminate against (Asian American students) because of their race,” according to NBC.
According to the school district, the number of Asian American students offered admission under the new plan exceeded the district's population of Asian Americans. Also forcing it to revert to the old system would disrupt the admissions process after “officials have expended enormous time and effort processing thousands of applications for admission,” the district said, according to NBC News.
The issue of using admissions policies to achieve classroom diversity has been contentious. In the past, the Supreme Court has allowed it. The newly conservative court will take another look at the practice in its next term.