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Case Update: Preliminary Injunction Sought Against Alleged Anti-Asian Admissions Changes At VA’s Thomas Jefferson High

Case Update: Preliminary Injunction Sought Against Alleged Anti-Asian Admissions Changes At VA’s Thomas Jefferson High

“The need for an injunction became more and more apparent with each passing day after we filed the complaint. This injunction would not only protect the Coalition for TJ members’ 8th grade children, whose TJ applications are pending right now under the new discriminatory policy, but would also allow the next round of Asian-American applicants, and the round after them if necessary, to compete on an equal footing.”

In March 2021, we covered a lawsuit filed alleging proposed changes in admissions criteria to the top-ranked public Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) were motivated by a desire to reduce the percentage of students of Asian descent at the school, and to increase the percentages of Blacks and Hispanics.

We covered the controversy in Lawsuit Alleges Anti-Asian Discrimination In Admissions Change At Top-Ranked Virginia High School. Please see that post for the details on the allegations and a copy of the Complaint.

According to the Court electronic docket, none of the defendants have yet answered the Complaint, but on April 23, 2021, the plaintiff filed a Notice of Motion for Preliminary Injunction and supporting Memorandum. According to the court docket, a hearing is currently scheduled for May 21, 2021.

The Introduction to the supporting Memorandum spells out the grounds for prompt injunctive relief:

Plaintiff Coalition for TJ, an organization of approximately 5,000 concerned parents of school-age children in and around Fairfax County, Virginia, challenges recent revisions of the admissions policy at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (known as “TJ”), the nation’s top-ranked public high school. These admissions policy changes—adopted with little warning or community input—eliminated the standardized TJ admissions test a mere one month before it was scheduled to be administered and replaced it with a geographic quota and “holistic” evaluation.

The Coalition alleges in its complaint and demonstrates through this motion that Defendants—the Superintendent and the Fairfax County School Board—implemented these changes to the admissions policy to limit the number of Asian-American students who are admitted to TJ. These changes violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they are race-based and not narrowly tailored to further any compelling government interest. ECF 1, ¶¶ 63–65 (hereinafter Compl.). Based on the evidence presented here, the Coalition seeks a preliminary injunction prohibiting Defendants from applying the challenged admissions policy to the freshman classes entering TJ in the fall of 2021, the fall of 2022, and beyond while this litigation is pending.

The Coalition projects that under the new admissions policy, Asian-American enrollment for the incoming Class of 2025 (entering in the fall of 2021) will decrease by approximately 42 percentage points compared with the earlier policy. Under the Equal Protection Clause, Defendants’ racial motivation for changing the admissions policy, particularly when coupled with such a substantial effect, shifts the burden to Defendants to prove that the new admissions policy satisfies strict scrutiny by being narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest.

Defendants cannot satisfy this most demanding standard of review. They have no compelling interest in achieving their preferred racial balance at TJ. And even if they could establish a compelling interest in changing TJ’s racial composition, the challenged admissions policy is not narrowly tailored to further any conceivable interest Defendants might have. Therefore, the Coalition is likely to succeed on the merits of its equal protection claim, satisfying the first and most important preliminary injunction factor.

The other factors are also satisfied. Being forced to compete in a race-based system with fewer available seats denies the Coalition members’ children their equal protection rights and establishes irreparable harm. Defendants, meanwhile, would not be harmed by an injunction against administering an unconstitutional admissions policy, and it serves the public interest to assure that Virginia’s largest public school district does not violate its students’ equal protection rights.

For the reasons set forth below, this Court should grant Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, without which the challenged plan will impact imminent admissions decisions.

I was surprised that the plaintiffs had not moved for a preliminary injunction at the start of the case, and inquired of Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the plaintiffs, why the motion was filed now. I received the following response, attributed to Attorney Erin Wilcox:

“The need for an injunction became more and more apparent with each passing day after we filed the complaint. This injunction would not only protect the Coalition for TJ members’ 8th grade children, whose TJ applications are pending right now under the new discriminatory policy, but would also allow the next round of Asian-American applicants, and the round after them if necessary, to compete on an equal footing. It tells those 6th and 7th graders that they should keep working hard towards their dream of attending TJ. And the country is watching. Other school districts with specialized schools are considering similarly discriminatory admissions policies or have already put them in place. An injunction now sends a strong message that those kinds of policies will not be tolerated.”

The Court docket further indicates that the defendants are planning on filing motions to dismiss the case. So the next month or two may be legally determinative of whether the new, allegedly anti-Asian, admissions criteria will be applied to pending applications and incoming classes.

We will continue to follow the case.

 

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Comments

School choice would be better for both Asians and Blacks. But that would require a change in management for Virginia.

    n.n in reply to gibbie. | April 24, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    Asians? Russians, Georgians, etc., too?

    Blacks? Africans? Americans? African-Americans? People of Black? Indians (some are blacker than black)?

    The goal is accountable and auditable. Choice (votes) is one option, as in competing interests, to realize that goal.

    Observer in reply to gibbie. | April 29, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    It’s funny how the leftists in Virginia (and elsewhere, like in the Ivy League) don’t want to have “too many Asians” excelling academically, and yet they are perfectly fine with having disproportionate numbers of blacks excelling at things like sports. The NBA and NFL are predominantly black, and yet we don’t have sports executives demanding that more short people or more women or more Asian people be recruited to make those teams “look more like America.” Everybody just accepts that blacks are more interested in developing basketball and football skills than other groups, and that they put more time and effort into learning those skills, and that’s why they are disproportionately represented in the sports. Nobody thinks that’s “unfair” to Asians, or short people, or women, or whatever, and nobody ever complains that there are “too many blacks” in professional sports and their numbers should be reduced.

    But somehow the same principle never applies to Asians who excel at academics. Asians are more interested in academics than most blacks (and many whites), they put more time and effort into developing academically, and they succeed academically at higher levels. But instead of congratulating Asians for their academic successes, we penalize them and whine that it’s “unfair” for them to be more successful than other racial groups.

Wait! The previous LI post says this: “Virginia To Eliminate All Accelerated Maths Classes Prior To 11th Grade. Because ‘Equity’”. Doesn’t this mean that the value of a TJ education would decrease? It’s getting difficult to keep up with the scope of the government school disaster.

    n.n in reply to gibbie. | April 24, 2021 at 8:13 pm

    While value decreases, equity progresses: one step forward, two steps backward. Not exactly another wicked solution… Well, not quite. Have faith in these honest brokers. Forward!

Diversity (i.e. color judgment), inequity, and exclusion.

Diversity is the system racism, and so much more, that liberals and like-minded claim to proscribe. While color bias is intrinsic, prejudice is progressive. Lose your Pro-Choice religion. That said, diversity of individuals, minority of one.

LukeHandCool | April 24, 2021 at 8:55 pm

I think most if not all the Asian American parents I know would rather anti-Asian prejudice take the form of random, occasional physical attacks against them rather than the construction of educational roadblocks to thwart their children’s academic advancement.

The standard liberal response will be to close the school down.

bobinreverse | April 24, 2021 at 9:48 pm

This all kind of a joke in that large somewhat recent influx of Asians into northern va partic ffx county is a major factor in bluification of va and radicalization of ffx county school board and board of county supervisors. Now Asians are getting what they voted for and don’t like it. Yea they thought they were voting to stick it to whitey but now they Asians find out that the dem pols they Asians voted for consider them to be whitey or maybe worse.
And it’s sure not like the ffx county pols have ever tried to disguise intentions. Check out renaming of Jeb Stuart as good example.,

“Plaintiff Coalition for TJ, an organization of approximately 5,000 concerned parents of school-age children in and around Fairfax County, Virginia”

Oh oh. A huge community of South Vietnamese refugees, now entering its third generation. This is not the land of milk and honey we promised them when they relocated here in the early ’70s. I’j sure it doesn’t help that among Asians, they are the most reliable bloc of Republican (and Trump) voters. Almost certainly because those whose tastes ran more towards Marxism had no real reason to leave Vietnam.

It is my opinion that the Asian parents are fighting a losing legal battle. Virginia has several specialized Governor’s Schools. For many years now, the Maggie Walker Governor’s School in Richmond, VA, has employed a wholistic admissions process intended to promote a diverse racial student body. All that the state of Virginia needs to do is say that it is standardizing its admissions programs across the state. Honestly, the true inequity and unfairness has been limiting access to an advanced math school to NOVA students as if NOVA students are the only students capable of or worthy of that access.

    gibbie in reply to Egghead. | April 25, 2021 at 10:37 am

    “It is my opinion that the Asian parents are fighting a losing legal battle.”

    Yes. They should be getting their children out of government schools while fighting for school choice.

The stated premise for Maggie Walker Governor’s School in Richmond, VA, is that all taxpayers‘ children should have the same potential opportunity to attend the Governor’s School. Implementation is that each high school (and thus each voting district that feeds into each high school) sends an equal (or nearly equal) number of students to the Governor’s School. A recent article about Boston seems to indicate that the advanced schools in Boston are headed in the same direction of drawing students from each area of the city (instead of the city as a whole).

For Maggie Walker Governor’s School in Richmond, VA, each surrounding county pays for a specific number of student slots. A large group of high level representatives from each school district meet each year to decide and ‘balance’ the student body (which coincidentally often includes high level and long time educators’ kids). Local African Americans are unhappy with their amount of student body representation versus their large percentage of the local population and are actively lobbying for more student slots.

    gibbie in reply to Egghead. | April 25, 2021 at 10:35 am

    You seem to favor more government monopoly bureaucratic one-size-fits-all indoctrination centers. Repeating the same thing and expecting different results.

The key to fairness and equality is to punish those who try to excel. Failure is brings the promise of free cheese for life. Now let’s all just sit back and be good proles.
.
“Oh those squawking birds won’t quit.
Building nothing,
Laying bricks.”
—- The Shins

One wonders of the voting habits of the plaintiffs, and whether they plan to change that in the next couple of elections…

Those Americans of Asian descent have some serious nerve, being so smart, so studious and so hard-working to earn high school admissions slots on the basis of merit, alone, as opposed to an appraisal of their skin color/ethnicity/sexuality.

This is such an outrage that merit is still used as a criterion upon which people are judged!

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