West Potomac Soccer Coaches Fired After Hazing — “In a message to West Potomac High School soccer families, Principal Tanganyika Millard said that after an April 21 practice, a ‘parent reported a student was injured after being singled out to run through a ‘gauntlet/tunnel.” Head coach Ahmad Sasso and two other coaches were fired after the incident.” [WTOP]
Dead Firefighter Escorted to Funeral Home — “#FCFRD members gathered to salute Captain Kimberly Schoppa during her dignified transfer. Units from her last assignment, Fire Station 27, West Springfield, carried her to the funeral home. Thank you to Fairfax County Police Department for the escort.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Facebook]
FCPS Alum Goes to Space — NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, a graduate of Robinson Secondary School, is part of a four-person crew that was scheduled to blast off to the International Space Station this morning (Wednesday) for SpaceX’s next mission. Lindgren was one of 18 astronauts selected by NASA in 2020 for its Artemis Team, an initiative to get humans back to the moon. [Florida Today]
Alpacas Make Fairfax County Courthouse Appearance — “By the time the alpacas arrive outside the Fairfax County Courthouse, it’s not really that surprising…The scene outside the Depp-Heard trial, entering its third week on Monday, has transformed the Fairfax County court complex from a place where Northern Virginia residents contest parking tickets to the stage for one of the biggest celebrity court cases in recent memory.” [The Washington Post]
TJ Tops National School Rankings — “Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County was ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to a new national ranking by U.S. News and World Report. This year’s list of best high schools evaluated more than 17,800 schools nationwide, including 322 in Virginia.” [Patch]
Vienna Students Write Cards for Ukrainian Refugees — “Students at Freedom Hill Elementary School in Vienna wrote stacks of cards to Ukrainian refugees for their principal to deliver on his spring break trip to Germany. Principal Nicholas Zapadka…decided to travel to Cologne in early April to help Ukrainian refugees who had arrived at a Red Cross refugee camp in Germany.” [Patch]
Mantua Home with Squatter Sold — “The home went off the market on April 15 for $805,000. It was built in 1964 and was last sold in 1997 for $319,000. The owner’s name was withheld by request on the Fairfax County auditor’s site. The new buyer’s name also was not listed.” [WUSA9]
It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 55 and low of 41. Sunrise at 6:17 am and sunset at 7:59 pm. [Weather.gov]
SCOTUS Lets TJ Admissions Policy Stay During Appeal — With three justices dissenting, the Supreme Court denied the Coalition for TJ’s request to block the new admissions policy for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The denial will let Fairfax County Public Schools use the policy to evaluate the incoming Class of 2026, as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond considers the case. FCPS says the appeals court has approved its request for “an expedited schedule to resolve the legal issues involved in the admissions process.” [SCOTUSblog/Twitter, FCPS]
No Injuries in Turnpike Shopping Center Crash — The driver of a sedan that crashed into an empty storefront next to Kokee Tea in the Fairfax City shopping center on Saturday (April 23) survived unharmed, city officials said yesterday (Monday). Damages to the building at 9668 Main Street are estimated to be between $20,000 and $30,000. [City of Fairfax Fire Department, Patch]
Police Partner With DNA Lab to Solve Tysons Murder — “The young woman’s skeletal remains were discovered in 2001, near a drainage ditch behind an apartment complex in what’s now known as Tysons, Virginia — and Fairfax County police still have far more questions than answers…The crowdfunded effort with Othram Inc. and DNASolves would pay for cutting-edge testing…which isn’t currently available through the state labs.” [WTOP]
Pollen Plagues D.C. Area — “Pollen counts are way up again. Today’s tree count of 1,405.75 grains per cubic meter is the second-highest of the year so far. The highest value was recorded March 7, when the count topped 2,300. Intense pollen seasons are becoming worse and longer in a warming world.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Herndon Man Wins Lottery After Buying 30 Tickets — “A Virginia man collected a total prize of $147,500 when he bought 30 identical tickets for a single lottery drawing. Benjamin Shuler of Herndon told Virginia Lottery officials he bought 30 tickets for the March 28 Pick 4 night drawing, all bearing the numbers 0-8-1-6.” [UPI]
Tysons Pedestrian Bridge Moves in Place — The Virginia Department of Transportation has photos of a truss for the new pedestrian/bicycle bridge being built over I-495 at Tysons Corner Center. The bridge was put in place over this past weekend and is scheduled to open later this year, though it’s unclear when work on a second phase that will extend a shared-use path to Route 123 can begin. [VDOT/Twitter]
County Archaeologists Start Newsletter — “The Fairfax County Archaeology and Collections Branch (ACB) is launching an e-newsletter. The ACB identifies, documents, and interprets the material culture of Fairfax County to promote shared stewardship of cultural resources, nurture a deeper understanding of the past, and inspire future generations.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]
It’s Tuesday — Possible light rain in the afternoon and evening. High of 64 and low of 54. Sunrise at 6:18 am and sunset at 7:58 pm. [Weather.gov]
Depp-Heard Defamation Trial Starts Today — “Three years after actor Johnny Depp sued his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, for defamation over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post about being a survivor of domestic abuse, the case is going to trial on Monday in Fairfax County Circuit Court in Virginia.” [The Washington Post]
Reston Man Indicted for Animal Cruelty — “Sheheryar Kamran, a 20-year-old resident of Reston, Virginia, was indicted on three federal charges related to animal cruelty for allegedly creating and posting videos on social media showing him abusing and killing hamsters. Kamran pleaded ‘not guilty’ in a federal court in Alexandria on February 24, 2022. He is currently awaiting trial set for May 16, 2022.” [FOX5]
TJ Admissions Lawsuit Could go to Supreme Court — The Coalition for TJ, a community group opposed to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s new admissions policy, has filed an emergency application to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to vacate a stay of a judge’s order striking down the changes. Chief Justice John Roberts gave the Fairfax County School Board until Wednesday (April 13) to respond. [Associated Press/WTOP]
Portion of I-66 West to Close Overnight — All westbound lanes will close at Route 28 between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. today (Monday) through Friday, requiring a detour. Crews will install bridge beams for the new Route 28 South bridge as part of the sweeping project to add express lanes on I-66. [VDOT]
Chantilly School Introduces “Walking Club” — The introduction of recess at Rocky Run Middle School this year inspired a teacher to supervise a ‘walking club’ for students and teachers who spend the break taking a stroll outside. The activity is part of a countywide pilot in anticipation of Fairfax County Public Schools requiring recess for middle schools this fall, a policy set to be approved Thursday (April 14). [WTOP]
Tysons Dim Sum Restaurant Enters D.C. — “After opening two grand dim sum parlors in the suburbs, restaurateur Chris Zhu is ready to expand to DC. The China Garden (Rockville) and Han Palace (Tysons) owner will open a 70-seat branch of her Cantonese restaurant in Woodley Park on Sunday, April 10.” [Washingtonian]
McLean HS Lands New Football Coach — “Prior to accepting the job as the new McLean High School head football coach, Joe Cockerham held a variety of positions on different high school and college staffs. Cockerham, 34, believes those experiences will help him build a consistent winner of the Highlanders at McLean.” [Sun Gazette]
Hybla Valley Walmart Shoplifting Leads to Assault — Police responding to a shoplifting complaint at 7910 Richmond Highway reportedly found a 35-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman concealing merchandise. The woman ran, and the man assaulted officers. The man was arrested and taken to the hospital for injuries not considered life threatening. [FCPD]
McLean Symphony Marks 50th Anniversary — The McLean Symphony held a concert at Capital One Hall on Saturday (April 9) to celebrate 50 years of existence, all of them led by conductor Dingwall Fleary. The concert featured two premieres of original compositions, including one by a local student, and the attendance of Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears.
It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 66 and low of 41. Sunrise at 6:39 am and sunset at 7:43 pm. [Weather.gov]
Fairfax County Public Schools can use its revamped admissions process to evaluate the next class of prospective Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology students, a federal appeals court ruled today (Thursday).
The overhauled admissions process, which replaced a standardized test with an essay, a higher grade-point-average requirement, and other criteria, is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit filed against the county school board by the Coalition for TJ, a parent and community group that opposes the changes.
Siding with the Coalition, a U.S. District Court judge ordered FCPS to scrap the new admissions procedures in February, calling the changes discriminatory toward Asian Americans.
With a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel with the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has granted the school board’s request to stay the lower court’s order, disputing Judge Claude M. Hilton’s argument that the revised admissions process had a disparate impact on Asian American applicants.
“The race neutral policy challenged here includes no racial quotas or targets,” Circuit Judge Toby Heytens said in his opinion. “And the Coalition appears to have identified no evidence that TJ’s current race neutral policy is intended to achieve a certain percentage of Black, Hispanic, or Asian American students.”
Heytens said a suspension of the order invalidating the admissions changes was warranted, because as the school board argued, it would be unfeasible to change the system for the upcoming Class of 2026, which submitted applications in the fall.
In a dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge Allison Rushing argued that the school board had not sufficiently proved a stay is necessary to prevent irreparable harm to its reputation.
“Everyone — even temporarily frustrated applicants and their families — ultimately benefits from a public-school admissions process not tainted by unconstitutional discrimination,” Rushing wrote.
FCPS said the stay will allow it to proceed with evaluating applications for the magnet school from more than 2,500 students while the court proceedings continue.
“We are pleased with the ruling from the Fourth Circuit, and we will continue to pursue our appeal of the lower court’s ruling,” School Board Chair Stella Pekarsky said in a statement from FCPS.
The Coalition for TJ did not immediately return FFXnow’s request for comment.
Photo via Google Maps
Trucker Convoy Leaves Capital Beltway — “After a week of ineffectual laps around the Beltway, the ‘People’s Convoy’ is now jamming up part of I-395 in Arlington. The convoy…is intended to protest the Covid-related government mandates. It received considerable media attention last week but didn’t do much to disrupt traffic.” [ARLnow]
School Board Appeals TJ Admissions Ruling — “The Fairfax County School Board is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that invalidated the recently revised admissions system for the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology magnet school…Legal experts were divided over how the 4th Circuit is likely to rule.” [The Washington Post]
Mac & Cheese Restaurant Chain Eyes Tysons — “I Heart Mac & Cheese, a fast casual concept, tentatively plans to open in Tysons in October 2022. The Tysons location will be the first in Virginia and owned by franchisee Md Billal Hossain. A spokesperson could not share the location’s address yet, as the lease is still being finalized.” [Patch]
Pedestrian Improvements Finished in Bailey’s Crossroads — The Virginia Department of Transportation has completed work on pedestrian and traffic safety measures at the Columbia Pike (Route 244) and Lacy Boulevard intersection. Changes include a new traffic signal, four new high-visibility crosswalks, ADA curb ramp upgrades, and flashing yellow arrows for left turns from Columbia Pike. [VDOT]
More Details on Reston Invasive Plant Pilot Program — “Reston National Golf Course plans to spend $140,000 on a three-year project targeting invasive plant species affecting an area that includes the Hunters Green Cluster in Reston. This proposal is different from the one introduced by the Reston National Neighborhood Study Group in February.” [Patch]
Route 7 Construction to Require Great Falls Road Closure — “Starting the week of March 28 and continuing through June, drivers on Colvin Run Road will proceed to the east end of Colvin Run Road to access Route 7 eastbound and westbound as crews perform utility work and other construction activities at the west end of Colvin Run Road.” [VDOT]
Board of Zoning Appeals Has Vacant Seat — “The Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals has an opening for one member. Interested candidates must apply by Monday, April 11, to the Fairfax Circuit Court, which appoints the board’s seven members.” [Fairfax County Government]
It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 64 and low of 40. Sunrise at 7:21 a.m. and sunset at 7:17 p.m. [Weather.gov]
(Updated at 8:45 a.m.) Car Crash Closes Old Dominion Drive — “Old Dominion Dr is closed between Balls Hill Rd & Mottram Dr in McLean, likely for several hours. A car crashed into a utility pole. No injuries. Please avoid the area while crews work to repair the pole.” [FCPD/Twitter]
Judge Denies FCPS Request to Keep TJ Admissions Process — “A federal judge has denied the request of Fairfax County Public Schools for a stay of his order invalidating the admissions system at prestigious magnet school Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, marking another serious blow for Virginia’s largest school system.” [The Washington Post]
Reston Shooting Still Unsolved — “It’s been one year since 40-year-old Santos Antonio Trejo Lemus died from gunshot wounds he received while walking near his home in Reston’s Winterthur Apartments. To date, no one has been charged in Lemus’ homicide.” [Patch]
Rep. Connolly Tests Positive for COVID-19 — “This morning, I tested positive for covid. I am mildly symptomatic and will be self-isolating. Fortunately, I’m vaxxed and boosted. This pandemic isn’t over yet so if you haven’t gotten your booster yet please do.” [Gerry Connolly/Twitter]
Person Injured in Shooting at Springfield Residence Inn — A driver shot at occupants of another car in the hotel parking lot at 6412 Backlick Road around 7:06 a.m. on March 8, according to the most recent police weekly recap. One person was hit and taken to the hospital for injuries not considered life-threatening. [FCPD]
GW Parkway Construction Closes Turkey Run Parking Lot — “The National Park Service is imposing a temporary closure of parking lot C-2 and partial closure of parking lot B at Turkey Run Park as a part of the project to rehabilitate the north section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The dates of the closure are March 14, 2022, until further notice.” [NPS]
Former Vienna Mayoral Candidate Runs for West Virginia House — “Pasha Majdi, who served on the Vienna Town Council for six years before making an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2020, is running for office again — in his new state of residence, West Virginia. Majdi is seeking the Republican nomination to run for the 100th District seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates.” [Sun Gazette]
Reston Real Estate Company to Expand — “Fast-growing Reston real estate firm Verity Commercial has received a ‘significant investment’ to drive its expansion into new markets. The firm…received an undisclosed amount from Germany-based RSBG Global Cos. through its San Jose-based subsidiary, Vela Tech Holding Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]
Baby Pigs Born at Frying Pan Farm — “Nike, a year and a half old Hampshire Cross sow, delivered her first litter of piglets on February 24. For her first time, she acted like a pro and delivered in less than two hours.” [Fairfax County Park Authority/Facebook]
It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 57 and low of 31. Sunrise at 7:23 a.m. and sunset at 7:16 p.m. [Weather.gov]
Invasive Spiders Could Reach D.C. Area — “An invasive species of spider the size of a child’s hand is expected to “colonize” the entire East Coast this spring by parachuting down from the sky, researchers at the University of Georgia announced last week.” [Axios]
Ramp Closure Coming to I-66 Near Vienna — “Travel lanes on Nutley Street will shift and the ramp from Nutley Street South to I-66 West will be closed as part of work planned for this weekend, March 11-14, for the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project. Drivers heading from Nutley Street South to I-66 West will proceed..past the current ramp to turn right at a traffic signal onto a temporary ramp to access the interstate. This detour will remain in place for approximately three weeks.” [VDOT]
TJ-Inspired Bill Passes General Assembly — Legislators passed a bill on governor’s school admissions that was inspired by opposition to the overhaul at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The bill originally blocked measures aimed at addressing disparities like the ones used by the Fairfax County School Board but was amended to broadly prohibit racial discrimination. [Associated Press/WTOP]
McLean Murder Case Goes Before Jury — “The bloodshed inside the family home in McLean, where two women were fatally shot in 2017, was either motivated by money for a new house or love for an unpopular boyfriend, depending on whom jurors decide to believe.” [The Washington Post]
Uniqlo Plans Fairfax Store — “Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo is planning a second Northern Virginia location to its growing portfolio of stores in Greater Washington. The retail chain is taking over space formerly occupied by home furnishings company Kirkland’s at 13041 Fair Lakes Shopping Center, according to Fairfax County permit data.” [Washington Business Journal]
Trail Repairs in Mantua Begin Monday — “Tibbs Paving will be making repairs and paving the stretch of the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail from Route 50 to Thaiss Memorial Park (City of Fairfax) beginning March 14, 2022. The anticipated project duration will be about two weeks running from March 14 through 25, 2022.” [Fairfax County Park Authority]
Taco Rock Opens in Falls Church — “The new location, the largest of [chef Mike Codero’s] three Taco Rock locations at 2,800-square-feet, is in the new, Giant Food-anchored Birch & Broad shopping center…It has a 25-foot-long tequila bar, and a big heated outdoor patio with seating for 100.” [WTOP]
County Rec Centers Seek Swim Teachers — The Fairfax County Park Authority is hiring aquatics instructors to teach children and adults of various skill levels. Positions are available at all nine rec centers, and pay starts at $21.64 per hour, increasing based on experience and certifications. Applicants must be at least 16 and able to work some weekends. [FCPA]
South Lakes Students Start Company to Support Artists — “Sixteen teens from South Lakes High School have built a company called “JACP Company F: Iris,” or IRIS for short. The company is entirely student-run, operating at the school’s address…IRIS sells merchandise such as t-shirts and first-edition stickers printed with juried artwork submitted by local high school and college students.” [Reston Connection]
It’s Thursday — Today will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 53 and a low around 35. The sun rose at 6:26 and will set at 6:11 p.m. [Weather.gov]
A federal judge’s ruling that recent changes to the admissions process for Fairfax County Public Schools’ prestigious magnet school were discriminatory has inspired both praise and condemnation.
As first reported by The Washington Post, U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton issued an opinion on Friday (Feb. 25) finding that the elimination of a standardized test and other alterations to how students are admitted into Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) were made “to the detriment of Asian-Americans.”
“It is clear that Asian-American students are disproportionately harmed by the [Fairfax County School] Board’s decision to overhaul TJ admissions,” Hilton wrote. “Currently and in the future, Asian-American applicants are disproportionately deprived of a level playing field in competing for both allocated and unallocated seats.”
Hilton also called the school board’s process for implementing the changes “remarkably rushed and shoddy” with “a noticeable lack of public engagement and transparency.”
The Coalition for TJ, a group of parents and alumni that filed the lawsuit in March 2021, celebrated the ruling as a victory “for parents everywhere who are questioning the unlawful acts of runaway school boards.”
“Coalition for TJ is thrilled by Judge Claude Hilton’s clear renunciation of racism and discrimination and his powerful defense of equality,” co-founder Asra Nomani said in a statement. “For almost two years, our courageous families have battled an incalcitrant and racist school board and superintendent intent on using ‘social justice,’ ‘equity’ and ‘anti-racism’ to perpetuate racism and discrimination against Asian students and families.”
The ruling was lauded by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who made undoing the admissions changes part of his gubernatorial campaign, as well as advocacy groups like the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York.
Today’s decision reaffirms that TJ’s admissions should be based on merit. We thank the parents who stood up for their children. We will work everyday to ensure that every student across VA has a quality education so they can dream big dreams and be prepared for success in life.
— Governor Glenn Youngkin (@GovernorVA) February 25, 2022
FCPS maintained that TJ admissions changes approved by the School Board on Dec. 17, 2020, are merit-based and race-neutral, noting that the first class admitted under the new system still had a majority of Asian American students and a grade point average in line with previous years.
“The new process is blind to race, gender and national origin and gives the most talented students from every middle school a seat at TJ,” FCPS Division Counsel John Foster said. “We believe that a trial would have shown that the new process meets all legal requirements.” Read More