Virginia attorney general expands civil rights investigation to all of Fairfax County Public Schools

(The Center Square) – Virginia’s attorney general announced Monday that he will expand his investigation into Thomas Jefferson High School to the entire Fairfax County Public Schools system, after reports of several schools withholding information surrounding National Merit recognition from students and parents.

Last week, Attorney General Jason Miyares announced a civil rights investigation in response to allegations that administrators at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology withheld information about National Merit recognition from students and parents. The launch of the investigation followed calls from Gov. Glenn Youngkin to investigate the high school, which is ranked as the top school in the nation.

Miyares is now extending the investigation to the entire FCPS school system following reports of other schools withholding notification of National Merit recognition. Over the weekend, two administrators from Westfield High School and Langley High School in Fairfax County Public Schools system sent emails to parents alerting them that their child had been designated as a “Commended Student” by the National Merit Scholarship Co., and acknowledging the delayed notification, as first reported by the Fairfax County Times.

“It’s concerning that multiple schools throughout Fairfax County withheld merit awards from students,” Miyares said in a statement. “My office will investigate the entire Fairfax County Public Schools system to find out if any students were discriminated against and if their rights were violated.”

FCPS did not immediately respond to The Center Square’s request for comment on the attorney general’s investigation.

Allegations against Thomas Jefferson High School first appeared last month in an article published in City Journal. The article alleged school officials withheld information about National Merit recognition for years and accused administrators of distributing National Merit commendations in 2022 after deadlines for certain scholarships and early decision applications to select colleges had passed.

National Merit awards recognize the top 50,000 students with the highest score on the PSAT. Of those, 16,000 qualify as semifinalists and roughly 34,000 are designated “commended students.”

Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid plans to meet with parents to discuss the delay in notifying commended students about their recognition Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Langley High School’s lecture hall, according to the Fairfax County Times. A similar meeting will take place at Westfield High School on Tuesday from 7:30 pm to 8:30 p.m.