AG Launches Schools Discrimination Inquiry

The state Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into allegations of discriminatory admissions practices at the Academies of Loudoun and systemic racism in the school system at large, after a

request from the Loudoun NAACP.

Loudoun NAACP President Michelle Thomas said the organization reached out to the AG’s office after the school district was sluggish to respond to complaints from parents, and even to share the results of its own equity assessment, which found a “hostile learning environment” where students faced no consequences for hateful actions.

“We’ve produced plans for them, we’ve produced solutions for them, and they have implemented it in the halfhearted way,” Thomas said during a press conference Tuesday evening. “When that happens, it creates a strain on the partnership because our best intentions never become realized.”

The school system had not previously disclosed the investigation. The letter informing the school division of the investigation is dated Oct. 3, more than a month before the NAACP’s press conference.

Attorney General Mark Herring takes place in a Juneteenth observance in Leesburg June 19, 2019. [Emma Steele/Loudoun Now]

“The question is, what are we going to do?” Thomas said. “It’s fine that they’re investigating. We know what they’re going to find. … That there’s discrimination, it’s rampant—it’s not just rampant, it’s systemic.”

Loudoun NAACP Education Chairwoman Robin Reaves Burke said data she has collected shows that black students are underrepresented in the gifted and talented program, and are less likely to be put into the pipeline to attend the Academies of Loudoun.

“The admission process of 2018-2019 stated they were going to implement a holistic approach to admissions, and what we are finding through the data is that that wasn’t the case,” Burke said. “Students were essentially ranked by test score”—tests, she said, that have been shown to be racially biased.

“This is not a divisive issue,” said Loudoun NAACP Vice President Amanda Tandy. “This is an inclusive issue. We’re not talking about somebody else’s kids, we’re talking about Loudoun County’s kids. So, it’s very important that we see that as fixing a situation that impacts all of our children.”

Thomas said her own daughter had experienced racist treatment at Belmont Ridge Middle School when a male student put pencil lead on his finger, said “I’m black now, I can use the n-word,” and started repeating the racial epithet.

 And she called on parents to share their own children’s stories of discriminatory treatment with the Loudoun NAACP, by emailing education@LoudounNAACP.org and by attending a town hall meeting at Riverside High School Library at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14. She said there, attendees will also help come up with solutions.

“There will be no complaints given to the school system without a solution,” Thomas said. “You cannot expect those who have oppressed you for years to come up with solutions that will set you free.”

The school system issued a prepared statement in response to media inquiries, writing that administrators are cooperating fully with the investigation. According to that statement, the school system has also provided the Attorney General’s Office with a partial response already, but did not provide the contents of that response.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

4 thoughts on “AG Launches Schools Discrimination Inquiry

  • 2019-11-13 at 1:29 pm
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    So let’s say hypothetically that the Academies of Loudoun decide to admit anyone who applies (which might not be a bad thing, since they admit a disproportionate number of non-white and non-black kids as compared to the general LCPS population.) And then students who would not have previously been admitted are confronted with the intense curriculum and aren’t being successful. Is that going to be considered discrimination? Because if it is and the solution is to make it more inclusive because tests are biased, then we should abolish those schools right now because the net effect will be to diminish them into nothing more than a couple of additional LCPS high schools, defeating their entire purpose.

    It’s obvious to anyone who has attended an AoL open house, or visited a classroom, or who has a kid that attends, that these schools skew far from the main stream demographic mix of the rest of LCPS. But if it’s because of discrimination, then it behooves the NAACP and others to look at specifically how that mix differs from the mainstream schools and why. It’s not just their constituency that is being underrepresented proportionally, and it’s not just because of test scores. To put it bluntly, male students of South Asian origin are vastly, disproportionately, overrepresented to the point that it creates an environment that is self-perpetuating and it diminishes the value of the schools to the county and the tax payers insofar as the reputations of the schools are in question. Perhaps we should have just stuck with bussing kids to TJ? Then it would be Fairfax Co.’s lawsuit to deal with…

  • 2019-11-13 at 10:31 pm
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    “..data she has collected shows that black students are underrepresented in the gifted and talented program, and are less likely to be put into the pipeline to attend the Academies of Loudoun.”

    -What does race or color have to do with anything? Good god you people are pathetic. You either qualify or you don’t.. wow. You all do realize that if a black person is admitted simply because they are black, then another person who should have been admitted because they are smarter won’t be admitted right? Race has literally nothing to do with it. Wake up.

    “Students were essentially ranked by test score”—tests, she said, that have been shown to be racially biased..

    How is a test racially biased? You people are living in a fantasy. You pretend you want everyone to be color blind when it comes to race and yet you are the ones that constantly point out peoples’ skin color. You either answer the questions correctly or you don’t.. how exactly does your skin color have anything to do with that. You people are severely brain washed to the point that perhaps you should be committed, like seriously.

    If there aren’t enough black kids at the gifted schools then it is because there aren’t enough black kids studying and working hard enough toward the goal of getting into those schools.. it really is as simple as that.

  • 2019-12-07 at 11:38 am
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    “What does race or color have to do with anything?” – easy to answer this one – but start with the question of why there is under representation – this does not start at the application point but much earlier, around 2nd grade, where we start to see dividing skills and abilities among various populations. If there was no bias in our school system, them more minority students would be qualified for the academies. So, to post here that there cannot be any bias simply because the application process does not consider race ignores the reality of our education system.

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