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Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 9:30 a.m. on 9/23/2022) With a new school year underway, students will soon jockey for seats in Fairfax County’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), even as a federal court considers whether its current admission system discriminates against Asians.

For now, thanks to an earlier ruling upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, the upcoming class of 2027 will be determined by the same, much-debated process that has helped diversify the magnet school’s student body over the past two years, FCPS confirmed to FFXnow.

Launching at 4 p.m. on Oct. 24, freshman student applications will consist of a student portrait sheet and a math or science-focused problem-solving essay. Other criteria include a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and consideration of a student’s English language learner, special education, or free/reduced-price lunch status — known as “experience factors.”

Those experience factors and a guarantee that all participating schools get seats equal to 1.5% of their student population are central to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of policy, which was adopted by the Fairfax County School Board in December 2020.

The revised process — which eliminated a standardized test and application fee — doesn’t explicitly consider race when evaluating students, but a lawyer for the Coalition for TJ argued to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Friday (Sept. 16) that it was designed to boost Black and Latino representation at the expense of Asian applicants.

(Correction: This article previously said oral arguments had taken place on Saturday, Sept. 17)

“That’s clear in the record from the statements that the board members and other senior staff in Fairfax County Public Schools made, that Asian American students were in the way,” Erin Wilcox said to the three-judge panel. “They needed to clear out room to increase the numbers of Black and Hispanic students.”

In February, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the Coalition for TJ, agreeing that the changes amounted to “racial balancing” in violation of the Constitution’s equal protection clause, which prohibits laws from discriminating based on race.

FCPS promptly appealed the decision, maintaining that the policy is race-neutral, as stated in the school board’s adopted resolution, and backed by legal precedent. Donald Verrilli, the school board’s legal representative, cited a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that supported universities taking steps to diversify, ideally without directly looking at race.

“There are no quotas, no targets, no racial preferences of any kind, no racial classifications of any kind, and it is 100% race-blind in its administration,” he said. “No application contains any racially identifying information, so all applicants are judged on a race-blind basis.” Read More

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Morning Notes

The U.S. flag flies outside the Freeman Store and Museum in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPS Expands FOIA Staffing and Budget — “Fairfax County Public School added half a million dollars in this year’s budget to keep up with public records requests, which have more than tripled since 2016 and gotten broader in scope. The increase comes as the school system finds itself the subject of political vitriol over COVID precautions and racial equity programs, among other issues.” [DCist]

Vermont Senator Falls at McLean Home — “U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont was set to undergo surgery Thursday after he broke his hip in a fall at his home, according to his spokesman. The 82-year-old Democrat fell Wednesday night in McLean, Virginia, a statement Thursday morning said.” [Associated Press]

Dr. Scott Brabrand on Tenure as FCPS Superintendent — “Brabrand, who was hired as superintendent in 2017, concludes his five-year stint Thursday, when Michelle Reid is scheduled to take the oath of office and serve as his successor…His tenure, which aimed at improving diversity among school staff and working to improve student outcomes, was interrupted by a pandemic that Brabrand called — next to school integration — the biggest event to impact public education in its history.” [WTOP]

DOJ Sues to Stop Merger of Tysons and Reston Companies — “The Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit to block Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.’s proposed acquisition of EverWatch Corp., a Reston cybersecurity contractor…alleging the deal would drive up prices for the government and stifle competition for some work with the National Security Agency.” [Washington Business Journal]

Expansion of Metrobus Student Program Approved — “Students from Annandale High School, Falls Church High School, Marshall High School and the Davis Center will join students at Justice High School in participating in the free student bus pass program using Metrobus. These expanded options for Metrobus will be available for the 2022-2023 school year.” [Patch]

Mantua House Fire Started by Car Engine — Firefighters extinguished a fire that started in the garage of a two-story house in the 3200 block of Barbara Lane on Tuesday (June 28). Started accidentally in a vehicle engine compartment, the fire displaced two residents and caused approximately $182,500 in damages, including the loss of the vehicle. [FCFRD]

County Offers to Help Residents Keep Cool — “Do you need help avoiding the heat this summer? Cooling Assistance is a program designed to help keep vulnerable Fairfax County residents cool during the summer months Applications are now being accepted through August 15.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 88 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:49 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A trail bridge at Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Virginia Reports Second Case of Monkeypox — “The patient is an adult male resident of the Northern region of Virginia who was exposed out of state. The Virginia patient did not require hospitalization and is isolating at home. To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided.” [VDH]

Discrimination Lawsuit Details Issues at Annandale Apartments — “The Fairfax County Circuit Court heard a case [Friday] that shined a light on the filthy and inhumane conditions at Fairmont Gardens in Annandale. Dean Sanchez, a former leasing agent, is suing the Donaldson Group, the company that owns the apartment complex…Sanchez reports the apartments are infested with mice, bedbugs, roaches, and mold.” [Annandale Today]

Man Arrested in McLean Charged in Capitol Storming — “A U.S. Naval reservist who was assigned to an agency that operates spy satellites told an undercover FBI agent that he stormed the U.S. Capitol with members of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group and has espoused anti-government and antisemitic ideologies, federal authorities said in court records unsealed on Thursday.” [NBC4]

Lawsuit Alleges FCPS Mishandled Sexual Assault Complaint — “Lawyers for a former Fairfax County student recently filed an amended complaint against the Fairfax County School Board outlining allegations of an unsafe environment that led to repeated sexual harassment and sexual assaults of the student.” [Inside NoVA/WTOP]

Metro Introduces $2 Weeknight Fares — “Lower-priced unlimited Metrorail and Metrobus monthly passes are now on sale for travel beginning July 1, providing more flexibility and value to customers who may no longer be commuting five days a week. And beginning Monday, June 27, all customers traveling on Metrorail after 9:30 p.m. on weekdays will benefit from a flat fare of $2 per one-way trip.” [WMATA]

Police Investigate Fairfax City Shooting — “The founder of a non-profit that builds schools for girls in Africa was found shot to death inside his Fairfax city home Friday morning.” [NBC4]

Falls Church Abortion Clinic Plans Expansion — “Falls Church Healthcare Center is working to expand capacity because they suspect they’ll soon get more out-of-state patients. They are looking to add more appointments, considering adding an extra day for scheduling and hiring nurse practitioners to deliver care.” [DCist]

New Lorton Fire Station Gets Grand Opening — “The new $14 million fire station is significantly larger, has energy efficient and environmentally sustainable features, and was outfitted to comfortably accommodate both male and female members of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and the volunteer fire company.” [On the MoVe]

It’s Monday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 80 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Fairfax County Public Safety Headquarters (via FCPD)

The two former Fairfax County Police Department officers accused of protecting a sex trafficking ring have denied the allegations and demanded proof in a lawsuit against them.

Michael O. Barbazette and Jason Mardocco denied any knowledge of or involvement in a sex trafficking ring that the victim who filed the lawsuit says forced her and other women to work as prostitutes.

“To the extent that plaintiff claims that she was trafficked and forced to work as a prostitute, these defendants lack knowledge to respond,” a lawyer for the officers said in an answer to the second amended complaint, filed May 24 in federal court in Alexandria.

In their response to the lawsuit, the officers also deny obstructing and interfering with an investigation into the trafficking ring by a former FCPD detective with the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force.

The complaint by the victim, identified only as Jane Doe, claims that Barbazette made it difficult for detective William Woolf to do his work, maintaining “unprecedented, strict control” over his investigative activities and denying approvals of his investigation.

Per the suit:

While at first defendant Barbazette was indifferent, not to say hostile, to Det. Woolf’s trafficking work, in 2014-15 he started demonstrating a substantial interest in Det. Woolf’s interviews with the trafficking victims he worked with. He started joining Det. Woolf on interviews of trafficking victims, and on at least one occasion told Det. Woolf to give him a trafficking victim’s telephone number.

According to the court filing from the officers’ attorney, Barbazette admits he was Woolf’s supervisor for a time but denies the allegations, which include that he ordered Woolf not to investigate sex trafficking cases, and demanded proof.

The lawsuit stems from a prostitution ring run by Hazel Marie Sanchez Cerdas, who pleaded guilty to felony racketeering and was sentenced to two years and six months in prison in August 2019, with credit for time served.

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Morning Notes

Ferris wheel at Viva Vienna 2022 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Governor Attends Vienna Memorial Day Ceremony — “Vienna residents joined Gov. Glen Youngkin and other dignitaries at the Town Green today to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. In his remarks, Rear Admiral Fred Kacher noted that for Gold Star families, every day is Memorial Day.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

West Falls Church Apartment Fire Displaces Residents — Assisted by Arlington and Fairfax City, Fairfax Count fire investigators are looking into a two-alarm apartment fire that damaged 12 units in the 2900 block of Dover Lane on Sunday (May 29). There were no reported injuries, but an “unknown number” of residents were displaced, including a dog. [FCFRD/Facebook, Twitter]

Transgender Woman Sues Fairfax County Jail — A former inmate at Fairfax County Adult Detention Center alleges in a lawsuit that she was housed with men and experienced harassment after officials learned she was transgender. The case is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. [The Washington Post]

Lack of Defibrillators Keeps Reston Pools Closed — “Due to supply chain delays, the following five RA pools did not receive new Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in time for Memorial Day weekend: Autumnwood, Ridge Heights, Hunters Woods, Golf Course Island, and Tall Oaks, according to an RA announcement.” [Patch]

Great Falls Pipeline Project Halted — “The Virginia Department of Transportation on May 24 issued a stop-work order for a Washington Gas pipeline-installation project on Georgetown Pike after receiving complaints from the Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA).” [Sun Gazette]

Woman Killed in Annandale Crash Was Community Advocate — “[Eileen] Garnett, 83, was a longtime advocate for revitalizing Annandale. On the day of the crash, she was with a group of county and state officials on an inspection tour of Annandale hosted by the Annandale Central Business District Planning Committee.” [Annandale Today]

“Above-Average” Hurricane Season Forecast — “NOAA is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

Centreville Park Gets Lighting Upgrades — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will begin a basketball lighting upgrade project this week at Chalet Woods Park, located at 14912 Cranoke St., Centreville, in the Sully District. The project scope includes removal of the existing poles and fixtures, followed by installation of new poles, fixtures and a push button for basketball court lights.” [FCPA]

It’s Tuesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:29 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A path in the Mount Vernon area (staff photo by Brandi Bottalico)

First Case of Monkeypox Hits Northern Virginia — “A Northern Virginia woman likely has monkeypox, the Virginia Dept. of Health announced today.” [ARLnow]

Man Settles Lawsuit with FCPD — “An unarmed Black man who was shocked with a stun gun wielded by a white Fairfax County police officer in June 2020 has reached a settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit, WTOP has learned.” [WTOP]

Closing Arguments Begin in Celebrity Case — After six weeks of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial causing some commotion at the county courthouse, it’s set to come to a close soon. Both sides rested their case on Thursday afternoon, and closing arguments are set to begin today. [WJLA]

Virginia Chamber Orchestra Performing at Botanical Gardens — The VCO is holding weekend concerts at the Korean Bell Garden at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Wolf Trap. The next performance is this Sunday (May 29) from 3-4 p.m. [VCO]

Local Teacher Helps Ukraine — “A teacher from Fairfax County, Virginia, is back from a trip to Poland, where she helped feed refugees who were fleeing Ukraine. Meredith Hedrick, who teaches English as a second language at Annandale High School, took a 10-day trip to participate in humanitarian relief efforts at the busiest border crossing between Poland and Ukraine, which includes vehicle, foot and train traffic.” [WTOP]

Vienna to be Featured on WETA — Vienna will be featured in an episode of “If You Lived Here” on WETA, spotlighting the town. The show is expected to air early next year. [Town of Vienna/Facebook]

FCPD Frees Turtle Stuck Under Tire — Fairfax County police tweeted a photo of an animal protection officer holding what appears to be a “smiling” snapping turtle that was rescued from under a car tire and freed. [FCPD/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Rain throughout the day. High of 70 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:49 am and sunset at 8:26 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The Fairfax County Courthouse (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

One of the most prominent court trials in recent Fairfax County history is drawing to a close.

Drawing celebrities, media, and an eclectic assortment of fans, actor Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against fellow actor and ex-wife Amber Heard has unfolded in sobering, sometimes bizarre detail at the Fairfax County Courthouse since April 11.

The trial culminates more than three years of legal proceedings after Depp filed a complaint in March 2019 seeking $50 million from Heard over a Washington Post op-ed where she discussed her experience with sexual violence.

Depp’s lawyers filed the lawsuit in Fairfax County, because the Post’s computer servers are located here, and Virginia’s anti-SLAPP laws — which seek to prevent people from using the courts to intimidate or silence critics — are weaker than those in California, according to Inside NoVA.

Televised live by Court TV, the case has become a filter for issues related to celebrity and fan culture, while also raising fears that domestic violence victims will be further discouraged from speaking up or seeking help, given the mockery directed at Heard in particular everywhere from TikTok to Saturday Night Live.

With closing arguments expected tomorrow (Friday), have you been following developments in the trial closely, or are you eager for an end to the hubbub?

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Morning Notes

Yellow flowers at Walker Nature Center in Reston (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Motorcyclist Injured in Crash — Fairfax County police detectives responded to a crash involving a motorcycle & vehicle at Braddock Road and Second Road in the Fairfax area around 1 p.m. yesterday (Sunday). The motorcyclist was taken to the hospital with injuries initially considered life-threatening but later got upgraded. [FCPD/Twitter]

GOP Selects 8th and 10th Congressional District Nominees — Karina Lipsman, a Ukranian-born defense worker who lives in Arlington, beat four other contenders to become the Republican nominee for the 8th District, where she’ll face either incumbent Rep. Don Beyer or his Democratic challenger Victoria Virasingh. The 10th District will be a contest between incumbent Rep. Jennifer Wexton and Navy veteran Hung Cao. [WTOP]

Amazon Testing Retail Delivery Drivers in Tysons — “Amazon is turning to its legions of contracted Flex drivers to deliver packages from mall-based retailers, allowing sellers to ship products from their own stores using the e-commerce giant’s delivery service…Amazon is also testing the service in Chandler, Arizona, and Tysons Corner, Virginia, according to Bloomberg.” [CNBC]

McLean Bible Church Seeks Election Redo to Stop Lawsuit — “The conflict over the McLean election is part culture war, part battle over bylaws, fueled by political polarization and the broader evangelical ‘woke wars,’ combined with a recent pastoral transition and a global pandemic.” [Religion News Service]

People Attacked With Machete in Groveton — “3500 block of Robert E. Lee Place, 5/13/22, 11:51 p.m. Two men displayed a gun and assaulted two victims with a machete. One victim was transported with injuries not considered life threatening. Preliminary, this does not appear to be a random act.” [FCPD]

Reston Home Depot Robbed — “1651 Reston Parkway (Home Depot), 5/17/22, 4:16 p.m. A man exited the store with merchandise without paying. When confronted by store employees, he displayed a firearm and ran away. No injuries were reported.” [FCPD]

Vienna Police Investigate Vehicle Window Smashings — “First, it was a rash of catalytic-converter thefts that kept Vienna police hopping earlier this year. Now vandals have been damaging vehicles’ windows. Vienna police on May 17 received four reports of vandalism on vehicles parked on two streets.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — Light rain starting in the afternoon. High of 72 and low of 59. Sunrise at 5:51 am and sunset at 8:23 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Construction at Reston Station during a recent sunset (photo by Wil Villatoro-Reyes)

Fairfax County Man Dies in Alexandria Jail — “Alexandria law enforcement is investigating the death of Anthony Mouf, a 25-year-old Fairfax County man in Alexandria’s William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center. According to a city release, Mouf was found suffering from an apparent medical emergency alone in his cell in the jail’s booking area.” [ALXnow]

Fort Belvoir Housing Contractors Hit with Lawsuit — “After bouncing around houses near Fort Belvoir, pleading with Michaels for repairs and remediation and asking officials on the base for help, Roman filed a lawsuit on March 16 of this year, alleging the owner and manager of thousands of housing units on the base allowed safety hazards and other substandard conditions to persist for years.” [Bisnow]

Fairfax Diner Plans Comeback — After being destroyed by a fire before Thanksgiving last year, the 29 Diner will reopen on Oct. 10, owner John Wood announced earlier this month. Still serving “the thick slices of applewood-smoked bacon, milkshakes, and Texas-style barbecue patrons know and love,” the restaurant will have an updated, open kitchen and restored furnishings that pay homage to its 1947 opening. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Tips for Handling the Baby Formula Shortage — “As the nationwide infant formula shortage continues due to a temporary shutdown of the plant that manufactures about half of the U.S. supply, local families are impacted, too. Our Health Department advises if you have any questions, check with your baby’s physician or healthcare provider, especially if your baby is on a restricted diet or has any medical conditions.” [Fairfax County Government]

Vienna Burger Joint Expands to Arlington — “HQ2 will be home to Arlington’s second Conte’s Bike Shop, a South Block, the second location of Vienna-based Social Burger and the first brick-and-mortar location of HUSTLE — a high intensity cycling workout business.” [ARLnow]

Capital One Sets Timeline for Office Return — The Tysons-based financial company announced that it will fully reopen all U.S. offices under a hybrid work model on Sept. 6, almost exactly a year later than previously planned. Capital One is one of the D.C. area’s largest employers, with 11,530 associates and contractors just for its headquarters, according to a spokesperson. [Capital One]

McLean Tennis Court Project Approved — The Fairfax County Park Authority Board “approved $650,000 in funding for court improvements at Lewinsville Park in McLean…FCPA anticipates the courts to be closed for up to four months, while these renovations and repairs are made.” [FCPA]

Reston Shop Hosts “Bike to Work Day” Stop — “National Bike Week happens to be this week with the 21st anniversary of Bike to Work Day in the National Capital Region falling on May 20…In Reston, bicyclists can head to a pit stop just off the Washington & Old Dominion Trail at The Bike Lane, 11150 Sunset Hills Reston, VA, 7 a.m.-9 a.m.” [Patch]

Annandale Food Festival Seeks Sponsors — “Now that planning is underway for the 2022 Taste of Annandale, the top priority is securing sponsors. The family-friendly community festival scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1 in the center of Annandale, is likely to draw at least 6,000 people.” [Annandale Today]

It’s Thursday — Rain in the morning. High of 79 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:54 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

It’s gosling season at Lake Audubon in Reston (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Family of Slain Alexandria Man Urge FCPD to Resume Search — Family members and friends of Ahmed Hasheem Ebrahim called on Fairfax County police yesterday (Thursday) to resume searching for his body at a landfill in King George County. Police believe Ebrahim was killed in an attempted robbery in Lincolnia and have arrested and charged two people in connection with his disappearance in mid-January. [The Washington Post]

FCPD Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Allowed to Advance — “A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit against two former police officers accused of protecting a sex trafficking ring in northern Virginia in exchange for sex can move forward…The lawsuit is filed on behalf of a Costa Rican woman identified in court papers only as Jane Doe.” [WTOP]

Local Groups Call for Lockheed Blvd Improvements — “Together, the leaders expressed appreciation for the county’s proposal to add standard bike lanes along the roadway near Huntley Meadows Park but insisted that protected bike lanes or a cycle track were necessary to ensure cyclist safety.” [On the MoVe]

New I-66 Express Lanes on Track to Open This Year — “Although VDOT has not given an exact date yet, spokesperson Michelle Holland tells 7 News that as long as the weather does not cause major construction delays, the new express lanes should open some time in December at the latest. Construction on the lanes has now been going on more than four years.” [ABC7]

Nearby: Landmark Mall Demolition Begins — “After two decades of Landmark Mall redevelopment being just out of reach, city officials and developers alike let out wild roars of satisfaction as the wrecking ball crashed into the side of the building…There’s still a long way to go before the first buildings of the new hospital and mixed-use development start coming online — currently slated for 2026.” [ALXnow]

Man Pushing Stroller Hit by Vehicle in Vienna — A pedestrian told police that he was knocked to the ground by a vehicle while pushing his child in a stroller past the Chick-fil-A parking lot at 538 Maple Avenue W on April 27. According to the Vienna Police Department’s weekly recap, the driver attempted to talk to the pedestrian, who left the scene but later reported the incident. [Vienna Police]

Local Foster Parent Awarded — “Congratulations to Sue Christenson! She’s been recognized as the 2022 Fairfax County Foster Parent of the Year by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). Sue has been a foster parent for nearly 15 years, and she is happily spending her golden years giving precious children a new beginning.” [Fairfax County Government/YouTube]

Lunar Eclipse May Be Visible Sunday — “The first of two total lunar eclipses visible to Virginia and DC residents in 2022 occurs Sunday night into Monday and will turn May’s full flower moon blood red. Oh, and it’s also a supermoon — depending on whom you ask.” [Patch]

It’s Friday — Overcast throughout the day. High of 69 and low of 58. Sunrise at 5:59 am and sunset at 8:14 pm. [Weather.gov]

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