A Virginia middle school that tried to restrict access to a college prep course to only black and Hispanic students is now facing the scrutiny of state Attorney General Jason Miyares.
On Thursday, the AG sent a letter to Cooper Middle School principal Lisa Barrow warning her that the school is violating the Virginia Human Rights Act, as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Virginia school finds itself in another race controversy with college prep program discrimination https://t.co/wwZWQlYyk3 pic.twitter.com/n5Mfqxm9X4
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) March 8, 2023
“The Virginia Human Rights Act prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of, inter alia, race, color, [and] national origin in places of public accommodation, including educational institutions,” he wrote.
“Educational institutions may not ‘refuse, withhold from, or deny any individual, or to attempt to refuse, withhold from, or deny any individual, directly or indirectly,
any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services, or privileges made available in any place of public accommodation, or  segregate or discriminate against any such person in the use thereof’ on the basis of those protected classes,” he added.
Miyares continued by giving the school six business days to hand over evidence proving it’s changed course.
The AG’s response comes days after the district sent out an email on the 1st of March informing parents about the FCPS College Partnership Program.
This program will include counseling, application assistance, and even an on-campus summer experience with, as journalist Asra Nomani pointed out, a few racially charged caveats.
“In the 20th century, Asian Exclusion Act denied Asians equal opportunities. Now @FCPSNews promotes a college prep program with race-based admissions, excluding Asians + whites,” she tweeted with a screen capture of the email.
FCPS is short for Fairfax County Public Schools.
In the 20th century, Asian Exclusion Act denied Asians equal opportunities. Now @FCPSNews promotes a college prep program with race-based admissions, excluding Asians + whites. A judge already ruled FCPS violated US Constitution in new anti-Asian admissions @TJHSST_Official. pic.twitter.com/RnQ2SRAv3D
— Asra Nomani (@AsraNomani) March 7, 2023
The email listed the prerequisites for the college prep course, including a racial requirement:
- “Students who are the first in their family to attend college in the [U.S.]”
- “Black or African American students“
- “Hispanic students, of one or more race“
- “Students with disabilities”
- “English learners”
- “Economically disadvantaged students”
Writing for the Fairfax Times, Nomani went on to note that “[a]t least three racial minority groups who are protected from discrimination in the United States of America under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing equal protection under the law,” were missing from the letter.
“Fairfax County Public Schools deliberately excludes Asian students, who number 34,392 students this 2022-2023 school year, or 19% of the total student population of 181,447 students according to school district data tabulated in February,” she wrote.
“The letter sent from Cooper Middle School also excludes students in the race and ethnicity categories of ‘American Indian or Alaskan Native,’ of which the school district has 498 students or 0.27% of the total student body, and ‘Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander,’ of which there are 211 students or 0.12% of the total number of students,” she added.
BREAKING @FairfaxTimes. Asians need not apply. @FCPSNews Cooper MS invites students to school district’s college prep program, identifying Black and Hispanic students as qualifying for the program and excluding Asian + white students. https://t.co/nmHMxngxzQ
— Asra Nomani (@AsraNomani) March 7, 2023
The school has, for its part, tried to deny that it’s doing anything wrong.
“In response … the school system, in a statement, said reports that there is a ban on certain demographics when it comes to who can apply for the program are ‘wholly inaccurate,'” according to local station WTOP.
But Miyares’ office was left quite unconvinced by this flimsy argument.
“The email from Cooper Middle School speaks for itself and, in the judgment of the Attorney General, violates the law,” Miyares’ spokesperson, Victoria LaCivita, told WTOP.
“That is why Attorney General Miyares has demanded a correction to the email. If FCPS truly wants to boost educational achievement and not undermine it, it should stop sending emails like the one it did. Discrimination has no place in public education and Attorney General Miyares will continue to demand that it stops,” she added.
This is Miyares’ third related investigation.
“Miyares currently has two open investigations related to Fairfax County Public Schools. The first is alleged discrimination against Asian students applying for admission into the county’s prestigious STEM school, Thomas Jefferson High School,” according to local station WTTG.
“The second investigation has the AG looking into the failure of multiple schools in Fairfax County, including Thomas Jefferson, to timely notify students of their National Merit Award Recognitions.”
Virginia AG announces investigation into prestigious school that reportedly hid merit awards from students https://t.co/1Ezp3GwgGa pic.twitter.com/ouW2tp1t75
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) January 5, 2023
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