Former Texas education official apologizes for questioning student’s Harvard acceptance

A former Texas state education official apologized on Monday for questioning if a biracial California high school student’s acceptance to Harvard University was earned through “merit” or to fulfill a “quota.”

George Clayton, a former member of the Texas State Board of Education, apologized for his remarks, saying it was “totally out of character” for him to make such a comment.

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“What I said in my remarks was totally wrong and hugely insensitive,” Clayton said in a tweet. “My shame hangs heavy in my heart. It was totally out of character for me to make such a hurtful comment. I am, of course, humbled by my words and sincerely sorry for them.”

Clayton had questioned Drake Johnson's acceptance to Harvard.

The California senior tweeted a photo of himself on Wednesday holding his Harvard acceptance letter and sporting the Ivy League university’s sweatshirt, adding: “It’s official, I’m Harvard bound.”

“Congrats,” Clayton responded. “Were you admitted on merit or quota?”

The exchange, originally reported by The Dallas Morning News, caused severe backlash online.

Clayton says in his Twitter bio that he is again a candidate for the state school board, but there is reportedly no record of his filing. 

Clayton originally declined to comment to the publication, saying that he has retired from public life.

Johnson thanked Clayton before listing off his accomplishments at Marina High School that gained him a spot at the university.

“Valedictorian, ASB President, World Champion, good SAT, and a couple handfuls of other involvements, so I would think merit?” Johnson wrote.

Johnson was accepted to 10 schools, including Dartmouth College and Brown University, according to the Monterey County Herald. He told the Morning News that he wanted to craft a response to Clayton that would “civilly defuse” the situation.

"I wanted some subtle way to prove him wrong, but not be aggressive," he said. "I thought that was the best way to civilly defuse the situation and clearly show I was accepted on merit."

Jeanie Johnson, Drake’s mother, told the Mornings News she found Clayton’s tweet racist.

"Why do you care, and why are you asking that particular question to a kid who is clearly of some type of mixed race?" she asked. "That is just so frustrating."

People from all over the world, however, took to Twitter to offer Johnson their congratulations. 

Donna Bahorich, the current chair of the Texas State Board of Education, congratulated Johnson, writing he is a "young man who is going places and deserves ONLY accolades and a big high five."