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Title VI: Fairfax County School Division (Thomas Jefferson) (VA) OCR Complaint No. 11-04-1020

On May 25, 2012, OCR closed a complaint against Fairfax County Public Schools (the Division) alleging that the Division discriminated on the basis of race (in favor of blacks and against whites) in admissions to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (the School). OCR stated that the use of race as a factor in admissions, in and of itself, is not a violation of federal law, as school districts may permissibly use race as a factor in K-12 admissions if they do so in a manner consistent with the law. Nonetheless, in response to OCR’s inquiries, the Division maintained that it was not considering the race of applicants in its admissions decisions to the school during 2002, the year at issue in the complaint. The Division’s statements were supported by OCR’s investigation, which did not find sufficient evidence that race was a factor in admissions to the school during 2002 or the surrounding years. OCR also stated that Title VI does not require a school district to rely solely on objective measures, such as grades and test scores, to admit applicants. A school may, consistent with Title VI, elect to consider a range of other, difficult to quantify factors, such as motivation, leadership, personal achievements and teacher recommendations, in admitting students to a school.

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Last Modified: 02/03/2014