EXCLUSIVE: Civil Rights Commissioner Presses Virginia School Board On Alleged Withholding Of Merit Awards

[YouTube/Screenshot/Public — User: Fairfax County Public Schools]

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Reagan Reese Contributor
Font Size:

A commissioner from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights asked the Fairfax County School Board if they were involved in the alleged withholding of merit awards from students within the district, according to a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

At least 17 schools with Fairfax County, Loudoun County and Prince William County failed to notify students, mainly Asian, of the National Merit Scholarship commendation, an honor used for college applications and to obtain scholarships, according to a report by parental rights activist Asra Nomani. In a letter addressed to Fairfax County School Board Chair Rachna Sizemore Heizer, Peter Kirsanow asked if the board had discussed the “racial makeup” of the students receiving the honor and if they knew the district was failing to notify students who earned the award. (RELATED: Parents Demand Firings After Prestigious School Reportedly Withheld Awards From Students)

“The fact that eight FCPS high schools (so far) have admitted failing to notify students of their awards suggests that this was not an isolated bureaucratic slip-up,” Kirsanow wrote in the letter obtained by the DCNF. “If the schools failed to notify students because the predominance of Asian students would undermine the ‘equity’ narrative promoted by the Board and the Superintendent, the schools have discriminated against those students on the basis of race. The schools would thus have violated Title VI.”

On Jan. 9, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares opened an investigation into FCPS after a report showed Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) was failing to notify students who were mostly Asian that they received the National Merit Award in order to not “hurt” the feelings of students who did not. Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin called for legislation that would prohibit educators from withholding any recognition or information that could affect a student’s admission to college.

Parents of the district called for the school administration to be fired for withholding the award while TJHSST marked it as “one-time human error in the fall of 2022 only.”

After the report on TJHSST, at least 17 other schools within three northern Virginia districts admitted to withholding the National Merit awards from their students. Of the National Merit award semifinalists that were not notified, about 75% were Asian students.

Kirsanow asked the board if they were aware that neighboring districts were also withholding the awards and asked if principals had been “given any training on achieving equitable outcomes based on race,” the letter stated.

Sizemore Heizer and FCPS did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact