Parents have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to review a case involving the admissions policy of a top-ranked magnet high school in Virginia.
The school in question, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, previously had a majority Asian American student population, with 73% of the incoming class in 2020 being Asian American. The new admissions process removed requirements like an entrance exam and teacher recommendations, focusing instead on evaluating things like economic disadvantage and English language proficiency.
The parents allege that the Fairfax County School Board’s 2020 decision to transition to a holistic admissions process unfairly discriminates against Asian American students. This shift came shortly after the Supreme Court overturned race-conscious admissions practices in higher education. The parents assert that these changes intentionally resulted in a decline in Asian American enrollment, with the incoming class of 2025 seeing a decrease to 54% Asian American students.
The argument is that the school’s new criteria, while race-neutral on the surface, were designed to achieve the same outcome as explicit racial discrimination.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that race-conscious admission policies were unconstitutional but the decision was somewhat ambiguous on practices that didn’t explicitly mention race.