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Honoring a Civil Rights Leader by Doing the Work

School Board Matters, January 25, 2024 meeting

Photo of education materials with School Board Matters on a chalkboard

School Board meetings are ground zero for the culture wars. Our “School Board Matters” blog will include analysis and links to video, agenda, and votes that affect you and your student(s), including links to primary source documents to support involvement in your student’s experience and education. 

We hope this will provide better access to and understanding of the Fairfax County School Board, including their powers and duties, as governed by the Code of Virginia. Although this blog will primarily focus on Fairfax County, we will share school board meeting reports from around the state, when possible. 

Please take a moment check out our blog to familiarize yourself with the new 2024 Fairfax County School Board.


 

The 1/25/23 Fairfax County School Board (FCSB) meeting began with a lovely performance of the National Anthem by Buzz Aldrin Elementary School (Resont, VA)–for me, it was nice to see a friend’s kids sing! 

Dr. Ricardy Anderson read the proclamation honoring Ms. Michelle Leete, President of the Fairfax NAACP who had dedicated her life to the pursuit of a more just and equitable society, and whose death leaves a gaping hole in our community. Dr. Anderson shared the many accomplishments of this remarkable leader whose legacy shall forever live in the hearts and minds of the Fairfax Community. Seemingly, there was not a volunteer position that Ms. Leete hadn’t held, including the PTA at the school, county, and statewide levels. She also served as President of Jack and Jill and a decades long leader and volunteer with Fairfax NAACP. 

Mr. Frisch detailed Ms. Leete’s crusade to ensure every individual is treated with respect and dignity. Ms. Leete knew that the future is in the hands of our children and worked tirelessly to raise their voices. Her legacy will live with those she touched. We pledge to carry forward her vision.

Public Input

Public input was dominated by sincere educators and citizens, many of whom spoke to the proclamation recognizing Ms. Leete:

  • A music educator and therapist described inequity in music education. She shares the need for adapted music lessons and to help exceptional students, and to support music teachers who do not have the training needed to share the music curriculum with all students.

  • Jenna White spoke on behalf of the Fairfax PTA to thank Dr. Anderson and the board for honoring Michelle Leete. She spoke to how Ms. Leete was always ready to say "yes" no matter how much she did, and that she was a powerful leader who was full of grace.

  • An ESOL adult educator at ACE described their programming which involves teaching adults of all ages, the majority of whom are immigrants. They are hardworking people, many of whom are parents and FCPS current/future employees.

  • Vanessa Hall thanked the new school board for running for election instead of running away. She says the community should partner with them because to make good change, one needs partners. She then spoke of Michelle Leete, a fiercely brave woman, a champion in our community. She asks that we take a page from her book to give back to the community and fight for civil rights.

  • Sujatha Hampton, VP of NAACP, welcomed the School Board and thanked them for running. Dr. Hampton described Ms. Leete’s bravery in the face of attacks based on a dishonest representation of her civil rights speech which resulted in personal death threats and threats to the Fairfax NAACP. In the face of these threats, Michelle said, "I've survived much worse." 

School Board Business

Academic Matters: Dr. Reid shared an interesting presentation on Academic Advising and Advanced Coursework. Any parent of a middle or high schooler should definitely look at this presentation and listen to the revealing questions by the entire school board afterward covering: other advanced programs in the arts and STEM, academy classes, costs of dual enrollment, the difference between AP and IB, how to share this information with parents, etc. I was happy to hear Ms. Dixit discuss the actual cost of dual enrollment at GMU, which my family has found is much closer to $900 than a “small administrative cost” shared by Dr. Presidio.

Strategic Plan: Dr. Reid shared an update on the Strategic Plan as she will share during the second meeting of every month.

Student Representative Matters: Ms. Karim provided a written update.

Action Items: The Board voted on Personnel Appointments and Separations. The motion passed by 10 voting yes and 2 not present (Dunne and Lady).

Board Matters: School Board members shared important news about their districts–it is worth a listen.

This was the second meeting of the School Board elected in 2024 which adjourned at approximately 11:00 pm. 

Once again, I’m loving how well these folks work together and listen to each other. This is only the second public general meeting, but things are looking pretty darn good. There is sincere congeniality and support among the school board. There also seems to be mutual respect between the Superintendent and the School Board, which is nice since there was some rancor with the former Superintendent. It is nice that they are able to focus on academics without far right culture warriors interrupting or a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic derailing everyone’s education plans.



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