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Case Name Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board ED-VA-0007
Docket / Court 1:21-cv-00296 ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
This is a case about a new admissions policy of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) that would negatively affect admissions for Asian American students. On March 3, 2021, an organization of primarily Asian American parents named the Coalition for TJ advocating against ... read more >
This is a case about a new admissions policy of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) that would negatively affect admissions for Asian American students. On March 3, 2021, an organization of primarily Asian American parents named the Coalition for TJ advocating against the new admissions policy filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The plaintiff sued the Fairfax County School Board (“the School Board”) under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 for violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a public interest law firm, the plaintiff sought declaratory and permanent injunctive relief to return to the previous admissions procedure, and attorneys’ fees and nominal damages.

The plaintiff claimed that the School Board, which operates Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), changed the admissions procedures for TJ while acting with racially discriminatory purpose against Asian American students and that race was the dominant concern of the defendants when they enacted the new admissions procedures. Previously admission to TJ was solely merit-based, with eligibility based on GPA and a rigorous standardized test, limited to those eighth graders residing in Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, or Prince William counties or the City of Falls Church. If these criteria were met, students were required to submit teachers’ letters of recommendation, a writing survey, and an essay.

In its 2020 budget bill, the Virginia General Assembly required certain public schools to “set diversity goals for its student body and faculty, and develop a plan to meet said goals in collaboration with community partners at public meetings.” In response to this Defendant began to create this new admissions procedure. Under the new procedure, the standardized test was removed, and eligibility was limited to the top 1.5% of the eighth-grade class at each public middle school in FCPS. Analysis of publicly available data showed that only Asian American enrollment would decline under the new admissions policy. Limiting those eligible to the top 1.5% would by proxy limit the number of qualified Asian American applicants coming through feeder schools that traditionally accounted for the majority of TJ admissions and had a higher Asian American student population than most other FCPS middle schools. This was allegedly by the defendant’s design.

This case was assigned to District Judge Claude M. Hilton. On April 22, 2021, the plaintiff filed their first motion for preliminary injunction. On April 29, 2021, defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and for lack of jurisdiction. Following a hearing on May 21, the court denied both motions on May 26. On August 26, plaintiff filed a second motion for preliminary injunction which the court denied on September 20, 2021.

As of October 15, 2021, the case is undergoing discovery proceedings.

Calvin Kim - 10/29/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Asian/Pacific Islander
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Fairfax county School Board
Plaintiff Description Coalition for TJ is an organization for primarily Asian American parents advocating against the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology's new admission procedures.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 03/03/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
E.D. Va.
10/15/2021
1:21-cv-00296-CMH-JFA
ED-VA-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Va.
03/10/2021
Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 1]
ED-VA-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Anderson, John F. (E.D. Va.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Hilton, Claude M. (FISC, E.D. Va.) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Kieser, Christopher M (California) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-0001
Riemenschneider, Kristen O (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Roper, Glenn Evans (Colorado) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-0001
Somin, Alison Elisabeth (Virginia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-0001 | ED-VA-0007-9000
Wilcox, Erin Elizabeth (California) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Cox, Trevor Stephen (Virginia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Raphael, Stuart Alan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Rewari, Sona (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Stefany, Daniel Robert (Virginia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Other Lawyers Andriola, Eri (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Choi, Christine Jiwon (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Denning, Elizabeth (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Fajana, Francisca (New York) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Luk, Arthur (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Mayo, Winston Kirby (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Pieper, Megan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Shah, Niyati (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000
Young, Michaele Nicole Turnage (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-VA-0007-9000

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