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My first education article of the year was Fairfax County Schools: Crushing Merit.  It was the tale of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a school often rated #1 in the nation. The principal, Ann Bonitatibus, withheld National Merit Scholar notifications from the students who earned it, ensuring the deadline for college admissions passed for those uninformed students and their parents. Caught red-handed, Bonitatibus and the school district furiously backpedaled, telling outraged parents it was just an unfortunate, one-time mistake. In education-speak: they lied.

How do we know they lied? In order for any policy, such as publicly informing students about earning the distinction of becoming National Merit Scholars, to be implemented, any building principal must obtain permission from the central office—the Superintendent—for their plans for doing that. The policy must be passed down through the various assistant principals to the counselors, who receive the notification from the National Merit Scholar program. Counselors must coordinate with teachers, and do everything else necessary to implement the policy. To rescind the policy, all of those people have to be informed of the change, and if teachers and counselors are professionals and sane—in other words, not woke lunatics—they’ll have many questions, and surely, objections. Ideally, the public will be informed of any policy  change. Even better, the district recently spent a half million dollars to implement DIE in every facet of its operations, and DIE is absolutely opposed to merit. Yes, I know the woke prefer “DEI,” but DIE best describes what happens to academic integrity, merit and learning wherever DEI is implemented.

What are the odds, then, this was just a one-time mistake?

Asra Q. Nomani, instrumental in exposing this academic fraud, has a follow up in the Fairfax County Times:

In an email to parents Jan. 8, Langley High School Principal Kimberly Greer announced that the Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid would meet with parents to answer questions regarding ‘a delay’ in notifying National Merit Scholarship Corporation Commended Students. The meeting will take place Jan. 10 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m at Langley High School in the lecture hall. Reid held a similar meeting last week at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. That meeting was open to the press, including TV news crews.

A similar meeting will take place at Westfield High School Jan. 10 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., according to an email sent out by Principal Toni DiBari.

While Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid claims the principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology withheld National Merit awards from students in a ‘one-time human error,’ parents at two local high schools got a Friday and Saturday night surprise.

The revelations are emerging after school district principals scrambled to a meeting Wednesday afternoon with the superintendent, after Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced a civil rights investigation into the controversy. Just like at TJHSST, the new revelations appear to impact many Asian American students – one focus of the investigation.

In an email, obtained by the Fairfax County Times, Langley High School Principal Kim Greer pressed send on a mea culpa at 9:29:30 p.m. on Friday night, confusing, agitating and angering parents and students already on edge during the tumultuous college admissions season.

Tonight, another email shared with the Fairfax County Times went out to parents at 8:39 p.m. This time, Tony DiBari, the ‘Proud Principal’ at Westfield High School in Chantilly, told parents that ‘it has come to light that Westfield High School students designated as Commended Students this past fall were also not notified by the school.’

“It has come to light.” Exactly like cockroaches in the kitchen scurrying under the fridge when the lights come on. As you might imagine, affected parents are a bit put out:

As news spread in the community about the new revelations, parents are livid, particularly in light of a new contract that Fairfax County Public Schools signed this fall with a sole-source contractor who preaches an ‘equity’ strategy of ‘equal outcomes for every student,’ urging school district officials to ‘have the courage and the willingness to be purposefully unequal when it comes to opportunities and access.’

‘I am deeply sorry for this mistake,’ wrote Greer. In the National Merit competition, about 1.5 million students take the PSAT/NMSQT test, and about 50,000 students are recognized among the top 3 percent of students, awarding them honors akin to gold, silver and bronze medals. Every September, National Merit recognizes about 16,000 students as Semifinalists and 34,000 Commended Students. Ultimately about 15,000 of the Semifinalists go on to be recognized as National Merit Finalists.

One might be forgiven for thinking Greer is deeply sorry she got caught.  How stupid would one have to be to imagine they could do this and cover it up, that no one would ever find out?  Or perhaps the woke mind cannot conceive of anyone holding contrary opinions?  After all, the woke are intellectually and morally superior.  Who could possibly object to one of their enlightened policies?

A Langley father, who spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of retaliation from the school district, said Virginia Tech recently rejected his son’s application for early admission and the family was shocked to open the principal’s email – in the middle of the night – with the news that their son was a Commended Student.

‘School district officials are deliberately sabotaging our kids’ lives in the name of ‘equity,’ the father said. ‘It’s cruel, if not evil. Think about the despondency that they are creating.’

On Saturday, Langley parents had already begun filing complaints with [Virginia AG] Miyares’ office. The Langley father said he wants to see the Langley principal fired for cause for undermining students.

‘The apology is empty,’ he said. ‘We are feeling a cascade of emotions. We trusted the school system with our son’s life, and they betrayed our trust.’

 Take the link, where you’ll find the various principal’s apologies were worded identically. In other words, their ‘sincere’ apologies were coordinated by the school district, calculated for concealment and ass covering, not honest contrition.

In mid-October, Saundra Davis, a local mother who is running for school board, got an email from the director of student services at Robinson Secondary School, in Fairfax, telling her that her son had been awarded the National Merit Commended Student honor.

On Friday, Davis raised questions at a legislative breakfast about the withholding of awards at TJHSST as part of the county’s wider ‘equity’ strategy called ‘One Fairfax.’ With the news of the same withholding of awards at Langley, she said, ‘TJ is an experiment. If they could get away with withholding awards at TJ, they thought they’d be free to pick off all the other schools. This should be a red alert to all parents.’

Robyn Dolgin at The American Thinker adds this: 

The outrageous policy was compounded by one parent learning that the decision had dated back five years from the time the administrator had joined the T.J. faculty.

‘Keeping these certificates from the students is theft by the state,’ says Shawna Yashar, an attorney and proud parent of a T.J. student.  ‘I learned — two years after the fact — that National Merit had recognized my son, a graduate of T.J.’s Class of 2021,’ added Yashar.

Ms. Yashar — who is regarded as a formidable parent at school board meetings — learned that 40 students had been recognized as ‘Commended Students’ in 2021 alone.  They, too, had been denied the opportunity to include the merit award for the purpose of obtaining a boost to an Ivy League college or enjoying an advantage to securing a scholarship.

Outraged parents are determined to uncover the list for each year in order to learn whether their children received the honor.  It’s not too far afield to estimate that 1,200 T.J. students earned the honor based on previous records for the past five years, writes Asra Nomani, an investigative journalist.

So much for a “one-time human error.” Numerous parents have complained to the State Attorney General’s office, with appropriate results:

AG Jason Miyares
credit: thebullelephant.com

Attorney General Jason Miyares announced Monday that his investigation of withholding merit awards will expand from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology to all public schools in Fairfax County.

Miyares launched a civil rights probe on Wednesday due to concern that Thomas Jefferson High School engaged in discrimination by delaying informing students of their recognition for national merit-based awards until after important deadlines for college scholarships had passed. Fairfax County Public Schools recently adopted a new strategy that aims to provide ‘Equal outcomes for every student, without exceptions.’

Miyares will have plenty to investigate.

‘It has come to my attention through public reporting that at least three high schools within Fairfax County Public Schools (‘FCPS’) may have withheld National Merit recognition from students. This alleged behavior may constitute unlawful discrimination in violation of the Virginia Human Rights Act,’ Miyares said in a letter to Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid. ‘My office will investigate whether any students’ rights were violated as a consequence of alleged withholding of National Merit recognition by high school administrators or FCPS.’

Even if it’s not illegal, it’s as unprofessional and immoral as one can imagine.

‘It’s concerning that multiple schools throughout Fairfax County withheld merit awards from students,’ Miyares said in a statement. ‘My office will investigate the entire Fairfax County Public Schools system to find out if any students were discriminated against and if their rights were violated.’

Governor Youngkin is also involved:

Gov. Glenn Youngkin
credit: western capital news.com

‘We need to get to the bottom of what appears to be an egregious, deliberate attempt to disadvantage high-performing students at one of the best schools in the country,’ Youngkin said in a statement. ‘Parents and students deserve answers and Attorney General Miyares will initiate a full investigation. I believe this failure may have caused material harm to those students and their parents, and that this failure may have violated the Virginia Human Rights Act.

This is particularly stupid bullshit:

The school district responded to Youngkin’s call for a probe by saying they shared ‘his desire to get to the facts surrounding the delay in notification of National Merit Commendations at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology for 2022.’

The school district said they brought in a third party to conduct an independent review, and that their ‘preliminary understanding is that the delay this fall was a unique situation due to human error.’

 That’s an obvious lie that has already blown up in their faces.

‘Should the Virginia Attorney General’s office initiate an investigation, FCPS stands ready to work with our partners at the state level,’ the school district said at the time. ‘As a reminder, once this error was brought to light, school staff reached out to colleges to update records where commended scholars had applied.’

Suuure they are. As I pointed out in the original article, there is no way “school staff”—counselors–could possibly know to which schools those students applied, and what about the kids from past years? Any lame attempt to tell colleges about the “one-time human error” won’t help them.

Final Thoughts: This situation is a simple as it is cruel. The Fairfax County School District—not individual principals making a “one-time mistake”—changed their policy of notifying National Merit Scholars of their achievements. It was an integral part of their DIE madness. DIE’s fundamental pillar is equal outcomes, not equal opportunity. There’s an obscene term for that: equity. Where equity rules, merit dies.

They knew the National Merit Scholarship organization does not individually notify the students of the results. That is left up to the schools, schools until the spread of woke evil were assumed to be proud to have high-achieving students, that sort of thing being a direct reflection on the capabilities and focus of the school.  One would think a nationally ranked high school established for excellence in science and technology would want to reward excellence, but not in Fairfax County, and not in many other places, particularly in blue states.

What incentive do students in this school district, or any like it, have to excel? What incentive do they have to even do their work? They’ll all get the same outcome whether they work hard or do nothing. Ignoring, even sabotaging, human nature always has a cost.

Purposely refusing to tell those students, ostensibly so kids not so capable wouldn’t have their feelings hurt—that was the explanation—was not only cruel, it had financial and life-altering consequences. Those students, unaware of their accomplishments, were denied admission to top tier universities, affecting them for the rest of their lives. And of course, the school district has knowingly sabotaged tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars in scholarships for the parents of those kids. Scholarships at the undergraduate level can lead to scholarships at the masters and doctorate levels as well, all of which leads to lucrative careers that benefit America.

Woke warriors do not want to benefit America.  They want to destroy it.

I’ll continue to report on this as developments warrant, but even if the actions of these cruel, stupid people do not amount to violations of specific Virginia laws, the teaching credentials of every one of them should be revoked. That’s something Virginia can do, and it couldn’t happen to worse people.

PRE-POSTING UPDATE: How can we know the school district is lying about the “one-time human error?” When it’s clear this was a district-wide policy: 

Four more Northern Virginia high school principals notified parents on Friday admitting that they had withheld National Merit award notifications from students.

Shawn DeRose, principal of Annandale High School wrote a letter for parents noting that when the delay of award notifications came to light at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), they did their own internal review and discovered that the high school ‘did not receive their Commended Scholar certificates from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.’

DeRose said they immediately notified students who had applied and the high school is now ‘a part of the investigative review by an independent third party into the circumstances surrounding this situation that has already been initiated by FCPS.’

‘Please be assured that we remain resolutely committed to supporting every student in reaching their unique and fullest potential,’ the Annandale High School principal said in the letter.

As you’ll see shortly, gentle readers, parents are not amused, nor convinced.

Edison High School principal Pamela Brumfield in Alexandria, Virginia also notified parents in an identical letter Friday night.

‘It has come to light that notifications to Edison High School students designated as Commended Students this past fall were also delayed,’ Brumfield wrote. ‘While we were able to mark this achievement with a celebration of these students in late November, the notifications happened later than we had hoped.’

Notice the same formulation: “it has come to light.” What Brumfield means is “we got caught screwing your kids, and we’re trying to cover our worthless, woke asses.  You’re so stupid you’ll think we’re actually sorry.”

Alfonso Smith, principal of Lewis High School in Springfield, wrote the same letter Friday night saying that they notified students ‘later than we would have hoped.’

If all the principals of this district can manage is hope to accomplish something, they had better bone up on phrases like “you want fries with that?” How hard is it to properly notify students and parents of outstanding academic achievement? Why is hope involved? They’re supposed to be running schools–educational institutions! 

The fourth principal to submit the same letter to parents on Friday was West Potomac High School principal Tanganyika Millard.

As I said, parents aren’t amused:

Reviewing the school district’s website, it appears they have at least 25 high schools.  There may be more, but a number of schools have titles that do not make clear which grade levels they teach.  I suspect a non-woke investigation will find far more than seven schools involved.  Every “educator” involved in this must have their Virginia teaching certification revoked, and the parents of these kids must sue these woke dim wits.