Search the web for America's best schools and Fairfax County's Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is right there at No. 10 in nation.
"It's a really challenging school, but you get a really good education," says student Amanda Nelson.
But a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education alleges that not everybody has equal access to that education. It says Fairfax County "...essentially operates a network of separate and unequal schools..."
The problem: alleged under-representation of black and Latino students.
"Look at any study of giftedness. It is equally distributed across humanity. God did not change that rule when he got to Fairfax County," says former school board member Tina Hone.
Her organization, The Coalition of The Silence, and the NAACP filed the complaint.
It says that 22 percent of the county's student body is Latino, but only 2.7 percent of Thomas Jefferson's students are Latino. 10 percent of county students are black. 1.5 percent of Thomas Jefferson students are black.
Hone says not enough black and Latino kids are being selected for the gifted and talented program in third grade and that is a direct pipeline to Thomas Jefferson.
"I actually think America has come a long way in terms of race," says Hone. "I'm a biracial American. I grew up dealing with race, so we've come a long way in terms of dealing with race in an overt way. But that does not mean that subconsciously, there are not cultural biases, racial biases and other biases that are leading to the disparities and impact that are absolutely undeniable in Fairfax County."
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education says last fiscal year, they received 7,800 of these types of civil rights complaints. They will take a look to see if this one merits investigating.
A spokesperson for the Fairfax County Public Schools says he can't comment on this specific complaint, but says they do significant outreach to minority students interested in attending Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
Didn't find what you were looking for?