The disproportionately low number of black and Latino students admitted to Fairfax County’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology — long a subject of debate — has triggered a federal civil rights complaint.
The 17-page complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education on Monday by the Coalition of The Silence, an advocacy group led by former county school board member Tina Hone, and the Fairfax chapter of the NAACP.
The complaint alleges that black and Latino students, as well as students with disabilities, are being shut out of Thomas Jefferson long before they apply in eighth grade because of Fairfax County Public Schools’ systematic failure to identify them for gifted education programs that begin in elementary school.
“The solution to the problem of the lack of diversity in TJ admissions is not necessarily a fix just to the TJ admissions process,” Hone said in an interview. “There has to be a fix to the pipeline that feeds into the process.”
Together, black and Latino students account for about 4 percent of the 480 students admitted to next year’s freshman class at Thomas Jefferson, or TJ. The two groups make up 32 percent of the county’s student population.