PLEASE SEND THIS EMAIL TO ALL PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN FAIRFAX COUNTY.
Re: high school redistricting
Date: March 31, 2008 03:09PM
Controversial School Plan Leads to a Lawsuit
March 31, 2008 - 2:33pm
FAIRFAX, Va. - A controversial plan to move students and balance out attendance at some Fairfax County schools has several parents reacting — in the form of a lawsuit.
A group of 11 parents, backed by the Fairfax Coalition of Advocates for Public Schools, filed a lawsuit in Fairfax County Circuit Court challenging a school redistricting plan, which affects more than 900 eighth-grade students and would occur over a period of four to five years.
The parents are asking the court to review the school board’s approval of the plan, which they believe is invalid because it was “arbitrary and capricious” and “an abuse of discretion.”
According to the suit, the school board did not comply with its policy on boundary adjustments and ignored information that showed the redistricting would not maintain or improve “operating efficiency or instructional effectiveness” in the impacted schools.
The suit alleges the school board exceeded its authority by taking the socioeconomic characteristics of the school population into consideration in deciding where students would attend school.
“They listed that as one of the factors they considered,” says Steve Stone, an attorney for the families. “The statute does not permit them to consider such a factor.”
The parents also say the boundary change isn’t economically efficient, especially at a time when the school district is asking the Board of Supervisors for more money - through higher taxes - to fund the schools.
A Fairfax County Public Schools spokesman says they haven’t seen the lawsuit, but says similar decisions have been made for decades without any legal challenges.
The school board approved the redistricting plan on Feb. 28.
ALL FAIRFAX COUNTY RESIDENCE MUST STAND UP AGAINST THE CORRUPT FCPS SYSTEM AND THE FCPS SCHOOL BOARD.
To: the entire School Board and all FCPS officials 3/28/08
Last night at your meeting, ten people spoke in favor of a new middle school in south county. Based upon your reaction, the SB looked at a lose for words/ideas on how to deal with several options that were presented.
Remember, South County secondary school is over capacity because the school board caved in to pressure from SOCO parents who did not want to go to Hayfield or Lee and mismanaged the entire process.
Boundary study for SOCO. THIS IS MY OPTION
Add a wing for ten million, with money from the BOS.
New middle school.
All of the above has to be done during a severe budget crisis during the next four to six years.
Also, it is clear to me that you are treating South County in a special way, which you did not do in Western Fairfax County with issues of over or under capacity at FCPS.
Ten people plead their case to you and you are willing to do what they want. On the other hand, thousands of students/parents pleaded their case to you REGARDING NO REDISTRICTING and you did not do what they wanted.
THE QUESTION IS WHY?
MONEY? POLITICS? FAVORITISM? DISCRIMINATION?
What I see is a school board that does not know how to deal with on going changes in the FCPS system and has no plans of action.
At the very least you must treat parents and students the same way.
Please provide me copies of emails sent by Liz Bradsher and Dan Storck from their FCPS computer to the South Count Federation and the South County Middle School Solution group from December 2007, January 2008 and February 2008 regarding a new middle school and potential redistricting in South County.
Please have Mr. Storck and Mrs. Bradsher send you these emails in order for you to make copies for me.
Whether it’s a Fairfax high school student whose tangle with the wife of a top administrator ends up as a nationwide debate over phone and web etiquette or a D.C. weekly newspaper that publishes the email traffic between a Washington Post reporter and the mayor’s press aide, it’s clear that we live in a time when no one quite knows which conversations may go public.
Now, a Fairfax parent’s decision to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a school board member’s email that calls another parent “vile and toxic” is once again reminding us of the essential difference between email and the telephone: What you type can go anywhere, anytime.
The maligned party was another parent, Pam Jones, who had written to Campbell, the president of Westfield High’s PTA, after Campbell was quoted in the local Connection newspaper saying that the school is overcrowded–lending support to the idea that the school’s population could stand to be decreased.
In the boundaries debate, parents whose kids attend the same school were often propelled into sharply different positions, based mainly on where they live. Jones wrote an email to Campbell taking her to task for speaking out in the press about crowded conditions at Westfield. “I guess you’re one of the lucky ones that don’t have to go through all this,” Jones wrote. “Our neighborhood is being subjected to our 3rd high school in 7 years and our 8th redistricting change in 9 years.” She went on to say that “If you choose to represent yourself as the Westfield PTA president, then you should present views of the entire Westfield PTA. Better yet, you would serve us best by not speaking at all.”
Board member Smith, who supported the redistricting plan, wrote her exasperated response in support of Campbell without a thought that the email–sent from her personal account, not her county email address–would become public. But parent activists got unusually riled up by the redistricting controversy, and as is the fashion these days, took advantage of public record laws. Now the “vile and toxic” comment is the subject of discussion on neighborhood and parent message boards around the county.
“This was an anomaly for me,” Smith tells me. “I thought I was writing back to Jennifer. It was embarrassing. I called Pam Jones and apologized to her profusely.”
Smith says she won’t stop emailing after this incident, but she has been reminded why she generally prefers the phone. “I’ve always been more of a talker than a writer,” she says. “A lot of times when people write, you can’t hear the intent or the tone. I find you end up in a richer place by talking directly to someone.”
Emotions certainly were running high at the peak of the redistricting debate in the first two months of this year. “The email Pam wrote to Jennifer was very emotional,” Smith says. “I was trying to sympathize with Jennifer Campbell.”
While politicians are often keenly aware that every word they write in emails is likely to be forwarded and republished in any number of forums, “I don’t think the public who emails us realizes that their words may become public,” Smith notes.
Janet Otersen, the parent who requested the emails from the school system, says Smith’s “word choices are despicable” and demonstrate that some school board members “act as if they are not accountable to all of the residents in their district.”
These days, any politician who doesn’t realize that newly empowered citizens stand ready to use the tools made available by public information laws and the digital revolution is going to face the music. I’m betting that Kathy Smith’s emails become a whole lot tamer–which isn’t necessarily good for anyone. A more cautious public conversation is not by any means a more productive or honest one.
IS THIS POLITICAL FAVORITISM OR BIAS OR DISCRIMINATION BY THE SCHOOL BOARD?
TAKE YOUR PICK.
We also know that bringing in new kids to southlakes will just be masking the problem of low test scores amongst students who attended hughes. That’s what the problem is really about, this is Fairfax County, one of the most diverse areas in the country. If the school board fixed Southlakes and then wanted to do this parents might have said OK. What about Langley? It must be said, the school is getting an addition because of over crowding and those at the western end of the boundary live much closer to southlakes. So for some reason the school board is not touching the area, lets see that addressed publicly in the paper. so pretty much everyone needs to accept the other sides feelings and decisions, and force the school board to address some real problems, oh yeah i know ib is a good program, but why is it at the lowest performing schools in the county? ( it is a good program for some, but not for the masses like AP is)
Thank you for your response. Let me assure you that we know what a “racist” is.
Once again this school board cannot see the big picture of minority underachievement.
The school board has to look at all minority children/students and reduce the number of dropouts from these groups.
The school board has to figure out what they are doing wrong and put a plan of CORRECTIVE action in place that will reduce dropouts.
In additional, FCPS has to many schools (68) that have failed the requirements of NCLB.
You must reduce the number of schools that have failed NCLB. If you fix this problem, maybe you will reduce dropouts.
Let’s get to the meat of the underachievement issue. Let’s disclose the data-even if it makes FCPS look bad. Show dropout figures, show disciplinary infractions against our minority students. Show the SAT participation rates in the high schools, show the AP/IB rates and the TJHS paltry minority participation numbers.
Let’s get moving-we are way behind the other school districts.
I was delighted to see the FCPS SB FINALLY decide to take on the issue of Minority Underachievement. Many school districts have been focusing on this issue for years, yet I am glad that our SB has finally decided to take some action.
I would like to make some general comments about last night’s presentation:
1. Staff members did not sound up to speed on many of the issues such as how to calculate drop outs, etc. I think Noonan and his staff should do a little more reading on the topic before they engage in a Q and A with SB members.
2. Many questions asked by SB members really demonstrated their lack of knowledge on this topic and I thought it looked unprofessional. Kathy Smith should certainly know what the different certificates and diplomas represent.
3. Janie Strauss showed concern for the Asians in FCPS that their graduation rates were just 15% which did not seem consistent with their high test scores. I was troubled that she did not seem the least bit bothered by the 50% dropout rates for Latinos and 25% dropout rates for African Americans.
4. Moon’s comments about different Asian groups were actually quite racist. It sounded like he was suggesting that Koreans come from stronger families and are therefore more successful. Let’s give all the Asians in FCPS your attention and start advocating for other races other than your own close-knit community. The Blacks and Latinos are expecting your advocacy as well.
5. Dan Storck was quite firm with Hone about the 5 minute limit, yet seemed a bit casually about everyone else going over their allotted time. Is it because Hone asks the tough questions? I hope the Chairman is not attempting to censor one of the members.
Let’s get to the meat of the underachievement issue. Let’s disclose the data-even if it makes us look bad. Show dropout figures, show disciplinary infractions against our minority students (I like how Noonan hasn’t looked into that relationship yet). Show the SAT participation rates in the high schools, show the AP/IB rates and the TJHS paltry minority participation numbers.
Let’s get moving-we are way behind the other school districts. We know who Jerry’s kids are-who are Jack’s kids? In the past it has been the kids from Langley, Oakton, Madison. Let’s take care of the ones who need us.
ANY AND ALL OPINIONS AND STATEMENTS EXPRESSED ON THESE PAGES CONSITUTE DELCARATIONS OF FISS AND ARE NOT INTENDED TO REPRESENT THE POLICY, PHILOSOPHY OR VIEW OF ANY LEAGUE, ASSOCIATION, GROUP, ORGANIZATION OR GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY.
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