Michigan AG joins coalition fighting to protect school admissions policy that promotes diversity

The case could make it more difficult for Michigan schools to increase diversity

Attorney General Dana Nessel. - Michigan Attorney General's Office
Michigan Attorney General's Office
Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a coalition of 15 other attorneys general in supporting a Virginia school’s admissions policy aimed at boosting diversity.

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, one of the highest ranked public schools in the nation, planned to use a new admissions policy intended to increase enrollment from underrepresented Black and Hispanic students.

But a lawsuit challenged the admissions system, claiming it discriminated against Asian American students. In February, a federal judge ordered the school to stop using the new admission system, ruling that it violated the federal Civil Rights Act.

The Fairfax County School Board, which adopted the new policy, has appealed the ruling.

Only a small percentage of the students are Black or Hispanic.

Nessel said the case could have ramifications for Michigan schools that want to increase diversity and break down barriers for underrepresented students.

“The district court’s decision sets a dangerous precedent for achieving diversity of all kinds in our schools,” Nessel said in a statement Tuesday. "If the precedent is followed, it could impact programs in Michigan that aim to promote diversity, such as the University of Michigan’s four-year scholarship program for Detroit Public Schools graduates. The Fairfax County School Board’s race-neutral policy to promote diversity is lawful and I join my colleagues in supporting its implementation.”

The attorneys general filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing against a claim that the admissions policy violates the Equal Protection Clause by discriminating against Asian American applicants. Under the new policy, the school scrapped the use of standardized admissions tests in favor of a “holistic review” that would reflect the community’s demographics.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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