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Governor Youngkin announces proposed bill in response to 16 schools failing to notify students and parents about National Merit Awards

The bill would make it mandatory for schools to notify parents and students of awards, recognitions and scholarship opportunities as soon as they know.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Four schools in Prince William County have been added to the list of schools across Virginia that didn't notify parents and students of National Merit Awards in a timely manner.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin said Wednesday, it's come to light that 16 schools across Northern Virginia failed to do so in a timely manner.

"I'm taking action," Governor Youngkin said on Fox News Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm sending legislation to our general assembly today, to make it mandatory that schools notify parents and students of awards, recognitions and scholarship opportunities as soon as they know," he said.

The legislation would prohibit any school board, public school, including Governor's Schools, or employee from withholding recognition, awards, or postsecondary scholarship eligibility earned by a student who was transferred solely to a school system. National Merit Scholarships and other awards would be required to be sent to students and their parents as soon as possible after the school system receives the information. 

On Wednesday, Prince William County Schools confirmed that students received late merit notifications at four schools, Colgan High School, Battlefield High School, Forest Park High School and Patriot High School.

The district sent the following statement to WUSA9:

"PWCS believes strongly that all student achievement should be recognized. In September 2022, PWCS had two students named 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists and issued a press release. 

For the students in PWCS who were among the 34,000 students nationally who did not qualify as semifinalists but did receive a letter of commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Program, PWCS provides recognition annually through personal notifications and annual award ceremonies. 

Recent updates received from the schools on Tuesday indicate that four out of 13 PWCS high schools made recent notifications to 28 students. This delay was due to an accidental administrative oversight. PWCS regrets this mistake occurred and principals have notified all those impacted.

PWCS students may access their qualifying scores through their College Board Account. Although Commended Students do not continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarships, they may apply via their College Board Account for other scholarships. PWCS does not receive notice at the division-level of the total number of students who qualify as commended."

This latest announcement comes one week after Fairfax County Superintendent Michelle Reid held meetings with parents to address their concerns. 

Attorney General Jason Miyares announced earlier this month that his office is launching two civil investigations into the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology after allegations of National Merit Awards being withheld from students. 

Earlier this month, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin sent a letter to Miyares expressing his concerns, saying he believes parents, along with students, deserve transparency when it comes to student achievements.

The Governor said, "this measure will not affect the Attorney General’s investigation in any manner,  but will ensure that this never happens again in the Commonwealth of Virginia". 

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