Virginia prosecutor pursues slander and libel charges against parent protesting affirmative action

Harold Hutchison, DCNF

A prosecutor in Northern Virginia is pursuing slander and libel charges against a parent involved in disputes over admissions policies for one of the nation’s top-ranked public high schools, according to an education reform advocate.

Attorneys for Harry Jackson, a black former president of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) will be at a hearing to discuss a motion to dismiss four counts of “slander and libel” being pursued by Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, according to Asra Nomani, a co-founder of the Coalition for TJ, citing a Fairfax County spokesman.

Jackson is among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Fairfax County Public Schools over admissions policies for TJHSST that they have characterized as race-based. A federal district court ruled in favor of the parents, but a federal appeals court granted Fairfax County a stay in the process.

Jorge Torrico, a member of the TJ Alumni Action Group, an advocacy group who favored the changes to the admissions process, alleged to the Fairfax County Magistrate that Jackson defamed him, according to legal documents. Torrico claims that Jackson attempted to assassinate his character by accusing him of carrying out “grooming behavior” during an interview and on social media.

The charges against Jackson come after Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a widely criticized memo that was seen as ordering the FBI to target parents protesting critical race theory, virtual learning, mask mandates, and other policies after a request from the National School Boards Association.

“The targeted intimidation of Harry Jackson by Fairfax County’s Democratic prosecutor, Steve Descano, is designed to send a clear message to parents who are challenging the county’s 12-0 Democratic school board, signing recall petitions, speaking truth to power at school board meetings and suing them for their corruption in court,” Nomani told the DCNF.

If the motion to dismiss is denied, Jackson will have to appear in court on April 22.

Jackson and his attorney, Marina Medvin, declined to comment when contacted by the DCNF due to the pending criminal case.

The Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.

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