Investigation into Thomas Jefferson High School’s Unlawful Withholding of National Merit Awards Prompted by Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears

The leadership of Thomas Jefferson High School in Virginia is currently under investigation after reports that the school had withheld National Merit awards from its students. The scandal was brought to light by Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and has prompted Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) to request that Attorney General Jason Miyares begin an investigation into the school’s handling of the awards.

The National Merit awards are given to students who have scored highly on the PSAT exam and can range from cash awards to scholarships. According to reports, Principal Ann Bonitatibus was notified of the awards in April, but certificates were not handed out to students until November.

A local mother, who was not identified, called the act “theft by the state” and the investigation comes in the wake of the 2021 gubernatorial election’s focus on education. Governor Youngkin has promised to make education a priority; this inquiry is seen as necessary to ensure that students are receiving the awards and recognition they deserve.

The National Merit awards are highly sought-after and can be a huge boon for students, who can use them to help fund their college education. It is unclear why the awards were not given out in a timely manner, but the state is taking the accusations seriously and is determined to get to the bottom of the situation.

The investigation remains ongoing and it is yet to be seen what the outcome will be. In the meantime, many Virginians are hoping that the leadership of Thomas Jefferson High School is held accountable for their actions and that any students who were wronged receive the awards and recognition they deserve.

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