Of course: Three high schools in Loudoun County also failed to notify students of their Merit Awards (Update)

This scandal just keeps growing in Virginia and the administrators just keep saying it was all just a mistake. It started last month when it was revealed that one of the top high schools in the country, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia had failed to notify students who were granted National Merit Award based on their PSAT scores. Only the top 3% of students in the country get these awards and by not notifying students it’s likely there weren’t able to include this award on their college applications.


The failure at TJHSST was put down to “one-time human error” by school superintendent Michelle Reid even though the director of student services at the high school admitted he and the principle wanted to “recognize students for who they are as individuals, not focus on their achievements.”

Earlier this week we learned that two more high schools in Fairfax County also failed to notify their students about the same awards. Again this was put down to a one-time error but one angry father summed up the suspicion of many when he said, “School district officials are deliberately sabotaging our kids’ lives in the name of ‘equity.'”

Yesterday, the acting superintendent in nearby Loudoun County Virginia revealed that the same thing had happened in three high schools in his district.

Tuesday night Loudoun County school leaders confirmed that some students were not notified of their national merit recognition.

The interim superintendent announced that at least three high schools did not tell students they received the award.

Those schools are Potomac Falls, Freedom, and Loudoun County.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares is already investigating what happened at every high school in Fairfax County and is now expected to add every high school in Loudoun as well.

Loudoun County is infamous as the place where former superintendent Scott Ziegler was fired after a grand jury concluded he had intentionally lied to parents at a public meeting about an assault in a girl’s bathroom in order to cover his own rear end. The assailant in that case was then put in another school where he allegedly raped another student. The grand jury report also strongly suggested the board had done everything possible to obstruct the investigation including apparently sitting on a key email (the one showing the superintendent was immediately informed about the assault).


Meanwhile in Fairfax County, Superintendent Michelle Reid did an “apology tour” where she met with parents at each of the three high schools to discuss the situation.

At the meeting, which Michael Albin, a board member of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance, dubbed Reid’s “apology tour,” the word – “equity” – ricocheted around the room as skeptical parents, some of them immigrants from India, China and Lebanon, methodically raised questions about the edicts of a California-based contractor, Performance Fact Inc., hired by Reid this fall to direct the school district’s strategic planning at a price tag of $455,000 over about nine months. This fall, the company’s founder, Mutiu Fagbayi, preached “equal outcomes for every student without exception.” Local mother Norma Margulies, an immigrant from Peru, told Fairfax County Times she filed a complaint this week with the school district’s Office of the Auditor General over Reid hiring the company without opening the contract to bids.

When a father raised a question about the impact of the “equal outcomes” strategy on academics, Reid said, “The contract you are referring to is not about equity work. It’s about strategic planning work.”

But in fact strategic planning documents are filled with details about “equity.” And parents attended a work session earlier that day with school board members and staff, featuring confusing PowerPoint slides, including one, shared by the Fairfax County Parents Association, detailing that the “FCPS Proposed Definition of Equity” is “work required to redress and respond to the systems, practices and beliefs that have perpetuated disproportionate outcomes for communities that continue to be marginalized by our educational system(s).”…

On the edge of the room, in medical scrubs, was Ziyad Haddad, a local radiologist, the father of four children and a graduate of Kent Gardens Elementary School, Longfellow Middle School and McLean High School. “The allegations are very troubling,” he said. “It would be very difficult to remove equity from this conversation because people are suspicious that equity is involved in all of this.”

“I’ve noticed in my kids that since the county has pivoted toward this equity that they have lost sight of their core mission, which is to educate these kids,” said Haddad.


Reid’s explanation is that in all three cases the principals signed the awards and handed them to teachers who were supposed to distribute them but because of “staffing shifts and changes” they weren’t given out. “There are times where the truth is difficult to believe, and this may be one of those times,” she told one group of parents. Who knows if that’s true but even if it is the principals knew there was a time sensitive student award that needed to get out. Whose job is it to make sure those awards get delivered?

It sounds to me like passing the buck at a minimum but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the equity push was behind this yet. The fact that one administrator at TJ admitted they didn’t want to make students who didn’t get the award feel bad seems like a hint this wasn’t a mistake. And as we learned last year from Loudoun County, superintendents will like when they’re caught in a bad position. Hopefully AG Miyares will get to the bottom of this. Here’s a local report on the latest.

Update: This is getting some critical attention this morning from George Will.

TJHS and other Fairfax secondary schools recently chose not to disclose to students and their parents the fact that the students — at TJHS, 230 of them, mostly Asian Americans — had won National Merit Commendation awards. The National Merit Scholarship Corp.’s letter to TJHS said: “Please present the letters of commendation as soon as possible since it is the students’ only notification.” One parent says a TJHS administrator told her that announcing the commendations would hurt the feelings of students not commended. Many commendations were eventually announced too late to mention in college applications…

The Post published two “nothing to see here” letters defending TJHS.

One dismissed the non-notification as “a minor slipup by administrators,” minor because its consequences were not “catastrophic.” The other said being a commended student is “trivial” regarding college admissions because “tens of thousands” receive this designation annually. More than 3.5 million do not. And the “minor slipup” seems to have been a policy, repeated in various Fairfax secondary schools. It seems suspiciously congruent with the school system’s political ideology.

It has one: The Fairfax school district paid $455,000 to a California consulting firm that says its aim is “equal outcomes for every student, without exception.” Tonight’s homework assignment, dear reader, is to write an essay explaining what that can possibly mean in practice, and to consider how Fairfax schools might apply it to, say, school track meets…

It is undeniable — Fairfax officials having said as much — that TJHS reconfigured its admissions policies to address the “problem” of too many successful Asian American admittees: 73 percent of the student body in 2021. The antonym of “equity,” in progressives’ definition of this as a standard of justice, is “merit”: The opposite of an equitable society is a meritocracy. So, TJHS is an engine of injustice. Fairfax has attempted to design a more progressive racial composition for TJHS in an effort to, in the words of TJHS’s principal, “close the equity gap.” The percentage of Asian American students plunged by nearly one-third.


Progressives will do their best to sweep this under the rug but I think the parents understand that a leftist ideology is attempting to mess with their kids’ futures. I doubt the parents are going to forget.

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