School district claims ‘oversight’ led to delay of National Merit notifications

(The Center Square) – Stafford County Public Schools is the latest to join a growing list of Virginia school districts who have acknowledged providing delayed notification of National Merit commendations to some students.

In a press release late last week, the school district announced it learned six students were not notified of their National Merit Commended Student status – an honor presented to roughly 34,000 high school students with high scores on the PSAT.

The school district had previously told The Center Square last Wednesday the school system had notified students recognized for National Merit commendations. But in a Friday press release, the school system said it realized Thursday a handful of students were not notified of their achievement.

“We sincerely apologize for the administrative error and the frustration this delay has caused these students and families,” the school system wrote in a Friday press release. “This is very frustrating for us, and not indicative of the pride we feel in our students and the approach we take in celebrating their personal achievements.”

Sandra Osborn, the chief communications officer for Stafford County Public Schools, told The Center Square Monday this was “simply an oversight by a new principal,” who did not have any intention “to hold any student back from recognition.” The school district said administrators are contacting colleges where the students applied to notify admissions offices of their achievement.

The announcement comes after several schools in Fairfax County, Loudoun County and Prince William County have reportedly acknowledged providing delayed notification of National Merit awards to students in recent weeks. Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has launched an investigation into Fairfax County schools after several schools acknowledged providing delayed notifications to students of their National Merit achievements.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has responded to the reports by supporting legislation that would prohibit schools from withholding notification of awards from students and require schools to alert students of awards “as soon as practicable” after schools receive the notification. As previously reported by The Center Square, several school districts across the state say it is already their practice to notify students immediately upon receiving notification of awards from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.