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Thomas Jefferson High School admissions director steps down

Tanisha Holland, the admissions director for Fairfax County’s elite Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, has stepped down from the position and taken a new role in the school system’s human resources department.

Jeremy Shughart, a manager in the county’s student-testing office, will serve for a year as the interim admission director for TJ, as the Alexandria-based regional magnet school is known.

Holland, who joined Fairfax schools in June 2010 as TJ admissions director, has the option of returning to the post next year. She will work on recruitment in the human resources department in the meantime.

Since Holland joined the school system three years ago, the admissions process at TJ has been closely scrutinized by the school board. The administration has struggled for years to address racial disparities at the school, where blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented.

In July 2012, the Coalition of the Silence, which advocates for minority students, and the Fairfax chapter of the NAACP filed a discrimination complaint against the school system with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The federal investigation is underway.

That same school year, teachers at TJ alleged that freshman students were unprepared for the high level of math and science proficiency expected at the county’s avowed top school. Some educators openly criticized the school’s admissions policies as the reason for the uptick in students requiring remediation.

This past year, the school board has examined altering the school system’s policy to encourage a more rigorous admissions process. The board will vote on that in September.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.



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