Fairfax Co. schools updates college program website after AG inquiry finds mentions of race to be discriminatory

Fairfax County Public Schools has revised email communications and a website about the College Partnership Program, after Virginia’s Attorney General said an original message soliciting student applications violated the state’s Human Rights Act.

On March 1, Cooper Middle School sent an email to families promoting the program, which aims to support students from populations traditionally underrepresented in college. The flyer, Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office said, asked if a student “fell into one or more categories” — such as being Black, African American or Hispanic or the first in their family to attend college.

A few days later, on March 9, the Office of Civil Rights informed the school system that the message violated the Virginia Human Rights Act.

At the end of March, a revised email was sent with the messaging that “All students are eligible and encouraged to apply.” The school system also updated the College Partnership Program website, eliminating all references to race and ethnicity.

As a result, Miyares’ office closed its inquiry, according to a May 26 letter sent to the school system’s legal council.

Fox 5 was the first to report the resolution.

In a statement, Fairfax County Public Schools said, “The Virginia AG’s office has notified us that it has closed its inquiry into the college partnership program and has noted that the applications for the program make no reference to any classification based on race, ethnicity, or national origin.”

In response to the OCR inquiry, the school system also said it would review and update the College Partnership Program, and extend the application deadline, according to the resolution letter.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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