17 Northern Virginia Schools Withheld Merit Awards From Mostly Asian Students As Gov Calls For Legislation

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At least 17 northern Virginia schools have admitted to withholding National Merit awards from their students as the governor calls for legislation to require that students and parents be notified of such honors, according to the Fairfax County Times.

Schools within 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 Fairfax County Times article by parental rights activist Asra Nomani. Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked two legislators on Wednesday to sponsor legislation that would prohibit educators from withholding any recognition or information that could alter a student’s higher education admission, according to ABC 13 News.

“We will not allow our students and their parents to be left uninformed of their hard-earned recognition in what we now know was widespread across more than a dozen schools in multiple school divisions,” Youngkin said in a statement to ABC 13 News.

About 75% of semifinalists for the National Merit award that were not notified were Asian students, the Fairfax County Times reported. At Marshall High School, the latest school to admit to withholding the merit award from students, 71% of students who earned the recognition were minorities, with most being Asian.

“As part of a review of our own practices, it has come to light that Marshall High School students designated as Commended Students this past fall were notified later than we would have hoped,” Jeffrey Litz, Marshall High School principal, told ABC 7. “As soon as this was confirmed, Marshall High School notified all impacted families, and staff is contacting colleges where these students have applied to inform them of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation commendations. We are sincerely sorry for this error.”

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares originally opened an investigation on Jan. 4 into Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), the first school discovered to be withholding merit awards from its students. Miyares expanded the investigation to all of Fairfax County Public Schools following reports that more schools had been withholding awards.

Parents within the district called for the school administration to be fired over the report while TJHSST said it was a “one-time human error in the fall of 2022 only.”

FCPS and Youngkin’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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