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Report: Two More VA School Principals Admit To Withholding National Merit Awards From Students

Report: Two More VA School Principals Admit To Withholding National Merit Awards From Students

“To have an equity-centered organization, we have to have the courage and the willingness to be purposefully unequal when it comes to opportunities and access”

Journalist Asra Q. Nomani has taken the lead in reporting the latest round of outrages perpetrated by Fairfax County public schools in Virginia. Virginia’s public schools are notorious for their woke racism and allegedly hiding instances of rape and sexual assault in their schools.

Nomani broke the story that top administrators at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) allegedly have been hiding academic achievements from students and their parents because ‘equity.’

Nomani is now reporting that two more area school principals allegedly contacted parents via oddly identically-worded emails to inform them that their children had earned the national merit awards but had not been informed by the schools.

The abrupt change of heart appears to have been instigated by Virginia AG Jason Miyares’ announcement of an investigation into the controversy, including possible civil rights violations given that so many of the harmed students are Asian.

Nomani reports in the Fairfax Times (archive link):

While Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid claims the principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology withheld National Merit awards from students in a “one-time human error,” parents at two local high schools got a Friday and Saturday night surprise.

The revelations are emerging after school district principals scrambled to a meeting Wednesday afternoon with the superintendent, after Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced a civil rights investigation into the controversy. Just like at TJHSST, the new revelations appear to impact many Asian American students – one focus of the investigation.

In an email, obtained by the Fairfax County Times, Langley High School Principal Kim Greer pressed send on a mea culpa at 9:29:30 p.m. on Friday night, confusing, agitating and angering parents and students already on edge during the tumultuous college admissions season.

Greer told parents that she was “delighted” to let them know that “your student was designated a Commended Student by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.” She then immediately followed up by saying, “I must apologize that certificates were not distributed to these Langley High School students in the usual way this past fall.”

. . . . Tonight, another email shared with the Fairfax County Times went out to parents at 8:39 p.m. This time, Tony DiBari, the “Proud Principal” at Westfield High School in Chantilly, told parents that “it has come to light that Westfield High School students designated as Commended Students this past fall were also not notified by the school.”

The identical language used by both principals suggests some form of collaboration in building a narrative to reassure outraged parents. Damage control, in other words, to address a decision that they cannot effectively defend on any grounds.

The principals at Langley and Westfield used nearly identical language that school staff “will be contacting colleges” where students had applied. The Langley principal added: “Our intention is to ensure college admissions departments know that your student was the recipient of this important award.”

This, however, overlooks the fact that college admissions officers have already made life-changing decisions – including rejections – based on incomplete information from students, missing this important award. According to a survey of opportunities available, the National Merit Commended Student recognition opens the door to millions of dollars in college scholarships, including a four-year scholarship at Liberty University, and 800 Special Scholarships from corporate sponsors. The deadlines for many of those scholarships have already passed.

In carbon-copy language, both principals wrote, “We understand and value the hard work and dedication of each and every student, and the families and staff who support them. Please be assured that we remain resolutely committed to supporting every student in reaching their unique and fullest potential.”

One of the most outrageous features here is the outlandishly overpaid DIE “expert” brought in to push destructive and racist ‘anti-racist’ ideology in this district.

However, for parents in the school district these examples of merit withheld from students raises serious concerns, particularly amid news that the FCPS superintendent signed a contract of about nine months, paying a controversial contractor, Mutiu Fagbayi, and his company Performance Fact Inc., based in Oakland, Calif., $455,000 for “equity” training that includes a controversial “Equity-centered Strategic Plan” with this goal: “equal outcomes for every student, without exception.”

“The equity imperative is to give each student what they need to meet equal outcomes. The goal is not equitable outcomes,” Fagbayi said early last year, promoting an identical strategy at a meeting with officials in Princeton Public Schools. A video recording of the April 26, 2022, meeting is posted on YouTube.

“The goal is equal outcomes,” Fagbayi explained. “And what we need to be equitable about is the access. In a very real sense, many districts struggle with this. To have true equity, you have to be purposefully unequal when it comes to resources. I want to say that again because most districts struggle with that. To have an equity-centered organization, we have to have the courage and the willingness to be purposefully unequal when it comes to opportunities and access[.]”

For some local parents, the notion of being “purposefully unequal” is not only unethical and immoral but also potentially illegal.

Oddly, these principals are not defending their actions based on the need to deliberately harm and hamper some students in the name of “equity.”

This all begs the question: What other strategies are K-12 schools—both public and private—across the country using in order to “be purposefully unequal when it comes to opportunities and access”?


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Lede paragraph link on assault seems to mistake former Lt. Gov. Fairfax for Fairfax County.

Remark in Goldfinger comes to mind: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

Since there is a meaningful financial consequence (let alone prestige) to the student…when does this enter a ‘conspiracy’ level crime?….

Sue them personally as well as professionally…make the ruble bounce

Name them, shame them, so they never can be in ANY position of responsibility again

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | January 8, 2023 at 8:47 pm

To have true equity, you have to be purposefully unequal when it comes to resources.

Test scores are not a “resource”. Neither are awards for test scores. Such things belong to the student, not the school.

This company needs to be sued out of existence, and the same is true for all of the upper school staff and board that had anything to do with this This is abominable.

Whether a district wide policy was to blame or not none of the adults here should escape severe liability, IMO. I suspect there is an ongoing effort to muddy the waters but I doubt these arrogant jerks are clever or devious enough to pull it off. They are very used to having their own way with little to no oversight, they lack the practiced hands and wariness of a seasoned criminal.

Great job, Ms. Slippers!

Two problems:

#1… it’s a civil rights investigation ONLY if the victim is brown????? WTF??????

#2 Lovely that they enforce equal outcomes by destroying better outcomes rather than making the less outcomes put in the hours to accomplish more.

You trade xbox time for study time for the better outcome. That’s how it works. Geeze I remember coming home from school- putting in an afternoon run, then milking cows till 8:30 at night and then doing my algebra homework on the floor of my 8 x 10 bed room till 9:30-10. No one else was doing that and no one else had my outcome[s]. Later after a couple of state championships, other athletes would say they wanted to train with me until they trained with me. I mellowed out and let them model my workouts, but no one put in the work needed. There was no secret recipe- it was purely busting ass like a psychopath that needed their head examined.

Means of purposeful inequality?

I don’t have it at my current school, but at previous schools it was a giant pain in the rear to either assign an F or submit an office referral if the student was black. Nobody cared at all if the kid was white, but doing so to a black kid involved quite a large amount of paperwork and several meetings.

    gonzotx in reply to Dathurtz. | January 8, 2023 at 9:46 pm

    Your the Man Andy and you are so right and deserving of any and all rewards that came your way

    Just can’t beat a farmer for work, ever.

    I had a bf and his family had a milking farm. First time I met his family I was staying the w/e and that first night we went bowling after they were done with their chores and had a few beers. Town of about 300 in WI

    Anyway it was 2 am
    When we got home to the farm
    His dad said, Gary don’t forget we have to be up 4 am
    To milk the cows

    I was flabbergasted, I said”can’t they wait, like till8am” His father laughed at me, very deservedly so and told
    Me the cows would knock down the doors of the barn if they didn’t open up. 4 am.
    I did t understand fully till I had my first child and was breast feeding. Holy cow!!!

    Well , Anyway, they didn’t wake up
    The city girl to milk but I was awake later and kind of embarrassed about how late it was… it was freaking noon (I was 19) and I heard his dad say

    “Gary, that girl you brought here, I think she’s dead”

    We became best friends,
    His family and I, to this day, his mother is like a mother to me amd I visit each time I go back to Wisconsin

    gonzotx in reply to Dathurtz. | January 8, 2023 at 10:01 pm

    My daughter was a principal at a MS. Being half hispanic definitely had its privileges but she didn’t care if you were green or purple, you break the rules, you were going to pay the price. She was a stern master and didn’t back down from parents or Superintendents

    The staff and kids loved her, she was simply amazing….

    However she started having her own babies and you can’t raise them if nobody’s home. She would literally put in 80 hours a week minimum, and I know cause I took care of the first born for 7 months. Her husband the pilot was always gone. Hated that company, would fly to great places but he’d have to stay, poor thing, and golf for 7 days.
    So it was me , the kid, and the young German Shepard. It was 110 by 9am and humidity out of this world. Like living in hell, 4 exits from Louisiana in Texas

    Roadkill wasn’t deer , it was gators…

    But I thank God I was alive to be with my first grandchild and take care of her everyday . I had gotten through my cancer treatments but my sister did not.

    Weird how that is. We both were pretty healthy till we both were dx in same year.

    I got to live and she did not and there isn’t a day that I don’t miss her . She was my bf, and though only 3 years older, she was like a mother to me…

    The Good really do pass young, look at Soros, dear God in heaven,

Hmm that was a response to Andy

We know the lamestream stenographers will ignore this one. So it’s up to everyone to get onto facebook and other social media and link the story. Especially if it’s got lots of parents on your particular social media.
The lamestream stenographers want to scare people over the fake flu? Time to scare the parents their child might have to go a second tier college.
Rile up the parents, the school boards will flee before their wrath.

    gonzotx in reply to 4fun. | January 8, 2023 at 10:03 pm

    At this point, there are very few colleges I would want my grandchildren to attend.

    I’d rather they work with their hands and mind then become whatever it is they become these days

      ooddballz in reply to gonzotx. | January 9, 2023 at 3:14 am

      Two words.
      Trade school.
      Think about it

      CommoChief in reply to gonzotx. | January 9, 2023 at 11:45 am

      My advice FWIW. Ask them if they want to sit in an office cubicle punching the clock for some corporation or would they prefer to be outside, set their own hours and so on.

      That gets the conversation started. Going into debt for BS/BA, is crazy. Especially when that credential is viewed as the HS diploma of a few generations past. A few years in the military would provide funding for College if they can stomach the woke BS. Worse in support units, less of it in line combat formations. Do there or four years then go to the reserve or NG.

      Community College and/or VoTech leading to a solid foundation in the trades is always a good bet. A few years working for someone else then start their own business as a subcontractor. The build it out and either stay in that specific lane or get a general contractor license. A regular paycheck from the Army reserve or NG along with the contacts and networking opportunities can enhance a small business chances of success.

Subotai Bahadur | January 8, 2023 at 9:51 pm

What Democrats and other Leftists aim for is not Merit, but deliberately lack of merit. Benefits are to be funneled deliberately only to “politically protected classes” who do not have the merit. They especially want to bar Asians who do the work from the benefits of that work, If we had equality under the law, that would be the basis for one hell of a civil rights lawsuit, But as far as the Left is concerned a broadened version of the Chinese Exclusion Act, encompassing all Asian-Americans, is in force and we are not by their definitions really people. Thus, civil rights law does not apply.

Subotai Bahadur

The excuses being proffered are so nauseatingly and contemptibly dishonest and Orwellian — “In order to promote equality, we must be unequal; in order to not be racist, we must be racist.”

The tortured, utterly offensive logic being employed by the Dumb-o-crats to justify the euphemistically-described “affirmative action,” “equity, diversity and inclusion” and other racist gimmickry and chicanery is an insult to rational minds, to the U.S. Constitution and to the citizens who are deprived of opportunities based on their skin pigmentation.

Just a thought: I wonder if the people doing the ‘holding’ of the awards are themsevles a type that could never have won such awards.

The ruined lives left in the wake of the vile Dumb-o-crats’ racist and corrosive racial obsessions and policies should make the blood of all American citizens boil. The Dumb-o-crats are leading the country backwards and tearing it apart, with this insane racial poison and corrosion.

Until these people start paying for this personally and professionally the shenanigans will continue. Unfortunately, you sue the school system and it’s you and your fellow taxpayers on the hook for the damages.

We’re well past pitchforks, tar, and feathers, folks.

Steven Brizel | January 8, 2023 at 10:20 pm

This was no was a deliberate act by these schools

    henrybowman in reply to Steven Brizel. | January 9, 2023 at 11:16 pm

    My tinfoil hat predicts that the next two revelations will be:
    1. Same behavior found in various schools outside Virginia.
    2. Decade-old article uncovered in a wokey teacher publication suggesting why this would be the greatest-most-equityness idea ever.

This is one of the more evil things I have ever heard about. It is the stupid petty evil that lefties love to do.

So what’s the next DIE phase, lowering the IQ of bright children by feeding them lead or dropping them on their heads?

Diversity, Inequity, Exclusion

Fagbayi said, “The goal is equal outcomes.”

In order to reach that goal, they are secretly working to produce identical life expectancies for each person. In cases where it’s not possible to lengthen the black ones, the white ones will have to be shortened.

When we moved to Northern Virginia 30-some years ago, the (then) high quality FCPS schools were a major real estate selling point.

This transformation to wokeness of the schools mirrors Northern Virginia (a suburb of DC) shifting from purple to deep blue over the last 30 years. Most of us remotely interested in education were aware of Thomas Jefferson (TJ) and its unmatched academic record, a source of local pride. In the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020 TJ abandoned its stringent admissions criteria, to supposedly increase Black and Latino minorities in the student population, at the expense of Asian Americans, who had claimed a majority share of the student body for at least the last dozen years. A lawsuit is pending and I can but hope the Asian American parents will prevail.

Now, in addition to watering down its admissions, we learn that TJ has failed to notify parents and students whose PSAT test scores earned the Commended Student status. And not just this year; some parents— whose children are now in college— are just now learning that their children were Commended 1-2 years ago. Moreover, students (and their parents) from two other FCPS schools were notified in the past 2 days of their Commended Student status, many after having already being rejected by college’s early admissions processes.

As a resident of Fairfax County with no child or grandchildren in school here, I am infuriated and I cannot begin to imagine what emotions these parents and students must be feeling.

Our AG Miyares’s investigation into Loudoun County Schools has already resulted in the firing of their Superintendent. I am hopeful that his investigation into practices at FCPS will bring about a major upheaval and lay a framework for the anticipated civil suits likely to follow.

    CapeBuffalo in reply to bev. | January 9, 2023 at 3:46 am

    Bev, your property taxes are being used to promote this travesty. You have every right to be infuriated

There is something about the National Merit Scholarship aspect of this story that sounds odd to me unless things have changed radically about the program this year.

My extended family is blessed to have two members who have achieved National Merit Finalist status within the last decade. Both were informed directly by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (by mail), just as everyone else receives their PSAT scores, and one of our students was even contacted by a University offering a scholarship before she was officially notified of her status.

Sp I can’t understand how the High Schools in question prevented the students from knowing their scores and their status if they are contacted directly as seems to be the norm from my experience.

    Dathurtz in reply to Gosport. | January 9, 2023 at 7:23 am

    It is fairly normal for schools to act as a mediator in such things. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

    I pretty routinely hand out standardized test scores to students who seem to be seeing them for the first time.

      artichoke in reply to Dathurtz. | January 10, 2023 at 7:19 pm

      In the National Merit process, they literally do not tell the student they made semifinalist or commended. It’s in black and white. I don’t know why, but it’s been that way over 50 years along with everything else in that long drawn out process.

    CommoChief in reply to Gosport. | January 9, 2023 at 11:50 am

    Anecdotally, we got the results handed out in our homeroom class. That was in a rural school district about 3 and 1/2 decades ago. No big deal was made in an assembly they just handed out the results to us at our desks.

      artichoke in reply to CommoChief. | January 9, 2023 at 4:00 pm

      Now the kids go online for their scores (stevewhitemd may be worried that these high schools blocked that for their students, not sure if the school can block that access), but the notification of semifinalists and commended (separate processes) is formally through the school. Students who know their scores can look up the cutoffs and figure it out, so this hurts the least savvy students from families who have never been through the process! And they call that “equity”. Like almost everything they do, it’s the opposite.

    jb4 in reply to Gosport. | January 9, 2023 at 2:15 pm

    I had the identical thought. The scholarship award company might not anticipate this BS, but should certainly anticipate that only sending to the school has lots of potential for a miscue. Given that they used to mail notice to the student, it would be hard to believe that they would choose to discontinue that, to save a few bucks. I wonder if they now might have legal liability? .

    artichoke in reply to Gosport. | January 9, 2023 at 4:04 pm

    I had one about 5 years ago, and now the scores are online. The semifinalist notification is I believe through the school, although you can figure it out from your score and looking up your state’s cutoff. After the semifinalist fills out the application for finalist and they don’t have any C’s nor any convictions on their record, they are approved for finalist, and that does come in the mail to the student as I recall.

    But if they don’t know to fill out the finalist application by the deadline because they aren’t savvy about the process and didn’t read and believe the fine print (which is very unintuitive, it’s a weird process that hasn’t changed since the horse and buggy days of 50 years ago) then they won’t make finalist.

    Also the school has to support finalist applications. Did these high schools fail to support their semifinalists with adequate recommendation letters?

    henrybowman in reply to Gosport. | January 9, 2023 at 11:36 pm

    In our day, we all had our family’s name, address, and phone number published in big phone books. You didn’t even have to “ask a girl for her number,” you could almost always just look it up and cold-call her.

    Today, this information is guarded in an almost paranoid fashion from everybody else, because (among other reasons) many corporations now make more money from selling their customer information to each other than from the plastic crap they are nominally in the business of selling, And educational establishments like testing services have shown themselves to be down in the same mud with the rest of them.

    I remember my first notification of being chosen as a National Merit Scholar was a solicitation from the publisher of a “gold embossed” yet entirely worthless compilation of the names of every Scholar selected in my graduating class, nationally. Quite clearly, this isn’t happening anymore.

    My guess is that these testing services are no longer provided with the personal data of their test subjects, other than name, school, and a code number.

I was a National Merit Scholar. My recognition took nothing away from my classmates who weren’t. They were the same people the day after I got my award as they were the day before. It didn’t make them less capable because my academic success was recognized. Even doing away with all awards of any kind in every field won’t make people who can’t earn them smarter, faster, stronger, etc. It just makes it harder to find the best and brightest. Which is probably the ultimate goal.

    Progression to the greatest common divider.

    artichoke in reply to elliesmom. | January 9, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    Not only that, but your high school and local realtors could boast about the number of NMS in your district. So by hiding the number of Commended, these principals are hurting local real estate values a little, which probably also gives them a little thrill.

This happened to me in high school, in the ’70s.

I transferred from an Air Force high school to a local high school in Texas. I was denied entry into the National Honor Society despite a nice, high gpa (the core requirement) because I got those grades at another school. I put up with that, until I got a National Merit award. There was one other student similarly situated.

Schools wooed students like us back then, and we missed the season.

All the schools in Fairfax are doing now is exercising the meanness and prejudice of small-minded people given just a little bit of power. This abuse of power will not be limited to harming a small group of asian students.

Sue the bastards.

    artichoke in reply to Valerie. | January 9, 2023 at 3:51 pm

    I had a nice high GPA too (4.0/4.0, I was a careful student) and our high school’s NHS denied me because I wasn’t cool or something. I didn’t know NHS was a site of colleges wooing students though, but it turned out it didn’t matter. Actually I didn’t really know what NHS did, just that the other smart kids in school had been invited and I hadn’t been.

    I was also inquisitive and sought out information. That didn’t seem unusual at the time, but it seems to be uncommon from what I know of the current student generation. The tests are easier, the top scores are higher, but the just plain curiosity about stuff has been squashed by too many rules, too-effective propaganda, too much penalty for failing, or something, but they don’t seem to think freely.

    henrybowman in reply to Valerie. | January 9, 2023 at 11:40 pm

    What a revelation!
    “We have met the source of anti-Asian hate… and he is the government.” — NOT POGO

Virginia’s public schools
Whoah! Slow your roll, there, Fuzzy!
Most of Virginia is NOT NoVa. A huge chunk of Virginia hates NoVa. These are Northern Virginia public schools that have this tendency, not everyone else.

including a four-year scholarship at Liberty University, and 800 Special Scholarships from corporate sponsors. The deadlines for many of those scholarships have already passed.
Then those administrators who made that choice should be personally required to fully fund equivalent scholarships for every student who had any positive information withheld. THAT would be real equity!

their unique and fullest potential
Funny, that’s not what your school policy was actually shown to be: “equal outcomes for every student, without exception”. Sorry, but you can’t do both.

These folks need to be hanging by their thumbs in the public square.

“…To have an equity-centered organization, we have to have the courage and the willingness to be purposefully unequal when it comes to opportunities and access …”
Pure Marcuse

So now it’s three schools in northern Virginia, not one.

Anyone want to bet against this happening in other states?

I think it would be very helpful to start writing our local principals, superintendents, and school boards to ask whether they also are withholding notification about National Merit scores to their students. And then back this up with some FOIA requests.

    Dathurtz in reply to stevewhitemd. | January 9, 2023 at 9:34 am

    Principals have their own little social clubs. I would bet almost every principal in the area was doing the same thing.

      Interestingly apparently other FCPS high schools, e.g. Robinson, my daughter’s alma mater, notified Commended students appropriately in October.

      Interestingly, Robinson was named after (white) Vietnam War hero Sgt. James W. Robinson. Wonder if the school would be named after him today.

      artichoke in reply to Dathurtz. | January 9, 2023 at 11:24 am

      In fact, membership orgs for them, with fees paid by the districts. In this way too we pay them to screw us.

E Howard Hunt | January 9, 2023 at 9:04 am

And yet, the major Asian advocacy groups are all in for reparation payments to blacks.

Principal Tony DiBari certainly checks the boxes. On the school website he’s described as being “…on a mission to not only maximize diversity and inclusion in the school, but also to make a lasting impact and improve Westfield for the better.” You would need a new liver if you did a shot for every time the word “diversity” is used in his profile. He, of course, gives his pronouns on his Twitter page. These are the imbeciles that are in administrative positions in public schools.

I thought this was understandable when it came to TJHS. There, students might not even want to know they made “commended” because it would mean they didn’t make “semifinalist”.

At other high schools, most students would be thrilled to make “commended”, and it does seem like they could benefit from it.

The equity consultant is plain as day about the goals of his program: drag everyone down to the same outcomes as the low performing students, cheat to give them opportunities they did not earn. Remember the environment a few years ago. After Floyd died of a drug overdose, you had to “atone” for it by giving away the store, or you’d be thrown out of office, including by parents in such districts. But things have changed now.

It will be ugly, good let them scream louder. This ship can be righted. I wouldn’t mind overcorrecting a bit. There are some families of Commended students who need reparations.

“including possible civil rights violations given that so many of the harmed students are Asian.”

Thanks for reminding us, once again, that white students have no civil rights to violate.

    artichoke in reply to Strelnikov. | January 9, 2023 at 3:27 pm

    The legal remedy is so simple. Just pass a law making white skin a protected class, just like every other kind of skin. Just add one more protected class. And male gender. to match female gender. Then everyone gets to be a double protected class and it’s fair. Can’t discriminate against anyone, on the basis of race or sex (or maybe it ends up being gender, but it doesn’t really matter if everyone’s protected anyway.)

    So simple, so obvious. And it seems to be a red line that nobody will cross, a crazy idea nobody will mention.

BierceAmbrose | January 9, 2023 at 4:36 pm

We can’t have people bettering themselves through their choices, efforts, or abilities; the wrong people might get in.

Seems like there ought to be lawsuits and enormous settlements resulting from this.

These awards are a key component of any college application. Every student denied these awards has been significantly harmed.

There is unrest in the forest
Trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light

But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream, “Oppression”
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
They say, “The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light”

Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw