The meeting is slated to be held in the General Assembly Building, 5th Floor West Conference Room. Directions, parking information and other details are available at the General Assembly's website: http://legis.virginia.gov/
We urge you to join FZTR leaders and attend the meeting to support HB 1080. Not able to get there in person? Please urge the subcommittee members by email to pass Del. Hugo's language (parental notification and Miranda warnings before questioning of students): MEMBERSHIP
Thank you for any outreach you can accomplish on this critical legislation.
ALERT:FZTR SLATE OF CANDIDATES. VOTE Tuesday November 8 for FZTR's School Board endorsees, and help us at the polls. FZTR endorses:
Steve Stuban, Lolita Mancheno-Smoak, and Sheree Brown-Kaplan (At Large)
Megan McLaughlin (Braddock)
Louise Epstein (Dranesville)
Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield)
Dan Storck (Mt. Vernon)
Sheila Ratnam (Sully)
Sandy Evans (Mason)
Patty Reed (Providence)
Both Pat Hynes and Nancy Linton (Hunter Mill)
No endorsement for Lee. These candidates (but Linton) are also formally endorsed by leading teachers associations. They have demonstrated a commitment to creating a reformed, restorative, and respectful discipline process in Fairfax. All the candidates have stated their desire for transparency, accountability, and respect for community engagement by groups such as ours. FZTR expects the future school board to provide significantly more robust oversight of FCPS staff. FZTR is a non-partisan organization and these candidates span the political spectrum. We want qualified, honorable candidates regardless of any party endorsements. CONTACT FZTRMichele@aol.com to help at polling places on Tuesday.
(updated 9-16-2011) Fairfax County Council of PTA's to recieve briefing on proposed Video Camera placement in High Schools. The FCCPTA will recieve a briefing on the proposal from central staff on Tuesday, September 27th, at 7:00 in the cafetria at FCPS Headquarters (8115 Gatehouse Road) Please ATTEND. Bring your questions and concerns, as well as an open mind ot listen. (updated 9-16-2011) ALERT: Fairfax County Council of PTA's to recieve briefing on proposed Video Camera placement in High Schools. The FCCPTA will recieve a briefing on the proposal from central staff on Tuesday, September 27th, at 7:00 in the cafetria at FCPS Headquarters (8115 Gatehouse Road) Please ATTEND. Bring your questions and concerns, as well as an open mind ot listen.
ALERT: FCPS School Board Elections need your vote! This Novembers school board elections are the key to Zero Tolerance Discipline Reform. You will be voting for your local district school board member, as well as three at-large candidates. That means you have four total votes to help bring about change in the current policy. FZTR is endorsing candidates (See News and our latest newletter). Get involved, talk to the candidates, go look at thier webs sites, review FZTR endorsements, ask for a yard sign for your lawn, talk to your neighbors and friends.
Discipline Reform Starts with a Reform-Minded School Board Vote November 8, 2011
(updated June 16, 2011)
ALERT: FCPS School Board Voted YES on five significant changes to the SR&R and NO on Parent Notification June 9, 2011.This is a start, but we have FAR to go! This is further than this school board or Superintendent has ever gone on discipline issues. We gained ground and several victories, due to our persistent hard work and education. There is a BUT. The changes do not go far enough, they all require serious vigilance, and two of the most important changes we needed immediately were voted down: Parent notification and Miranda warnings. In addition, the entire culture must still be transformed into a restorative and just system.
The following SB members decided not to trust parents as partners in educating their own children: Jim Rainey (At Large), Liz Bradsher (Springfield), Tessie Wilson (Braddock), Brad Center (Lee), Stu Gibson (Hunter Mill), Kathy Smith (Sully), and Janie Strauss (Dranesville). Smith, Strauss, (and possibly Bradsher) are seeking re-election and must be challenged for taking this stand against their constituents. All these people have sided with authoritarian principals to deny parents the right to be notified before their children are interrogated by school administrators or police officers for infractions that could lead to more than a three-day suspension or recommendation for expulsion. The board voted against Sandy Evans' (Mason) amendment to give children the right to remain silent. She and Moon withdrew an amendment to prohibit schools from coercing children into signing statements that could be self-implicating without parent/guardian permission. We CAN thank Tina Hone (At Large), Sandy Evans, Patty Reed (Providence), and Dan Storck (Mount Vernon) for standing up for our children. All these but Hone are running for re-election
Please tell the world of parents and voters what happened. Most are angry when they know all those emergency numbers and emails parents/guardians tediously write out in August for the school to use are ignored. When they learn principals claim it takes too much time to contact parents -- when they could ask staff to make those calls even as they carry an infraction review forward. As if a few parents who can't be reached means no parent should be reached at all. As if "getting to the bottom" of stolen cell phones is more important than due process. Strauss (D) and Gibson (D) quoted Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in this vote, claiming the language was not clear enough -- including what the term "notify" means in "notifying" parents. Rather than try to clear things up with their own amendments or definition, or using common sense, or voting for this and making more changes later, they dismissed parents altogether, speaking in such circular tongues one would have thought this was a cult -- or an election year.
Most reprehensible was the visible gloating Superintendent Jack Dale and Deputy Superintendent Richard Moniuszko did with the four principals in the audience after the vote. The next school board will vote on Dale's contract. It is CRITICAL to get board members elected who will demand world-class leaders on the staff -- and then take responsibility for supervising them.
While other actions pushed discipline reform forward, this key component -- parent notification -- was left swinging in the wind. Here are the victories parents got:
Student transfers: The board voted unanimously to require the hearings office to consider other disciplinary options before transferring children from school to school, including using such options as community service and in-school suspension. There is no moratorium, and it is now up to advocates and school board members to make sure transfers become a last resort and only where absolutely necessary.
Recording hearings: The board voted unanimously to allow Superintendent hearings to be recorded by audio for parents/guardians to review (not to actually have), and to allow parents/guardians to have a written transcription if they paid for all transcription services -- which would cost more than $400 each, and even thousands, a decision they'd have to make as soon as the hearing was scheduled. While this is a move in the right direction, the financial obstacle is unacceptable and an enormous disincentive for something that should be their right to have, and their inability to use 21st Century technology is baffling.
Support on suspension: The board -- with Raney, Smith, Gibson, and Wilson voting NO -- voted to add the following paragraph: "When a student is subject to out-of-school suspension, the school system shall, if feasible, provide academic support and other services necessary for the student to maintain academic progress." For the first time, students now have a right to academic support on suspension. Data must be gathered to demonstrate what the benefits are so this can be expanded. Board members added "if feasible" and it is clear this could be manipulated to deny students this support. We must be vigilant.
Manifestation review: The board voted to amend the SR&R so language related to students with disabilities is now in line with state and federal code and should make it easier to link IEPs and 504s with behavior issues so these kids can get the educational services they deserve. Again: Vigilance required.
SR&R name change: Finally, the name of the SR&R was changed so it is now Student RIGHTS and Responsibilities. This seems symbolic, but it is not. It means this FCPS organization of adults is now firmly responsible for making rights a priority in the lives of our students and families. They will have to be keenly monitored to make sure they put their words into action.
Our school board is supposed to be non-partisan, but the two main parties endorse and this can give candidates huge advantages that some do not deserve. There may be several Independent school board members running that deserve attention and support. However, just to learn WHO is endorsed, and get some basic information, here are the party websites to watch: Fairfax County Democratic Committee and Fairfax County Republican Committee.
ACTION 3 -- Spread the word!Please let friends, family, PTA/PTO members, community members, and others know. Contact your PTA/PTSA/PTO leadership to support further reform and parent notification.In formidable support of its national mission to be "a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the education and well-being of every child," the FCCPTA board passed a resolution April 4, 2011 supporting parent notification when a child is questioned by school administrators and resource officers, and requiring that a parent be present before children sign any statements.
Lead by FCCPTA past-president Michele Menapace, this measure also requests that FCPS involve parents in developing and reviewing the Student Responsibilities and Rights code of conduct and asks the state legislators and the Virginia PTA to address the need for this involvement in state code and regulatory development. Other language asked that the SR&R be changed to "Student Rights and Responsibilities," which has now happened.
We are very proud of Michele Menapace, Greg Brandon, Terry Tuley, Louise Epstein, Walt Carlson, and Sheree Brown Kaplan, along with all the others who supported this measure. This is what PTAs were created for more than 100 years ago. From the national PTA: "As the largest volunteer child advocacy association in the nation, Parent Teacher Association (PTA) reminds our country of its obligations to children and provides parents and families with a powerful voice to speak on behalf of every child while providing the best tools for parents to help their children be successful students." Hold BOS to Account for School Board on Joint ZT Reform Effort.On February 8, 2011, the Fairfax Board of Supervisors passed an unusual resolution asking to partner with FCPS to improve the disciplinary process. In a statement on February11, FCPS Superintendent Jack Dale then accused the board of a "serious misunderstanding" and that it "perpetuates the falsehood that FCPS has a zero tolerance policy." We all know ZT is, in fact, happening. But he did say he would support work to address mental health issues. To this end, write the BOS and school board to support a continued COMMUNITY effort for a comprehensive review and reform of discipline policies and practices, including wraparound services, that engages affected stakeholders like us. This requires a cross-jurisdictional approach.
Rally for Student Rights prior to June 9 board meeting was a success. Some 30 people showed up -- less than we hoped but more than we expected in record-breaking heat and for families who fear retribution if they come forward. We were highlighted in all the evening newscasts, including a WTOP story the next day. We will post links to these soon.
FCPS Assistant Administrative Hearing Officer Sought. Job description posted (type "fairfax county public schools hearing officer" in "what" search section.) We need compassionate, competent, fair, child-centric staff in that office. If you are qualified and want to help change the culture of this system, please consider applying. Don't tell them you heard about this from FZTR! ;-)
Tell Democrats What They Stand For:Democratic-Party-endorsed sitting board members and a Fairfax Democratic state senator voted against transparency, equal opportunity, and/or ZT reform (see link to resolutions) at the March 22 Fairfax County Democratic Committee general meeting. FCPS board member Kathy Smith (Sully) vocally opposed all three resolutions and SBM Ilyrong Moon (at large) and Va. Sen. David Marsden (D-37) opposed the discipline resolution, asking that it wait until the school board addresses the issue -- it was shelved, effectively killing it until after school board endorsement voting May 24. Moon and Marsden voted against the transparency resolutions. Marsden also joined FCPS lobbyists in opposing Del. Kaye Kory's (D-38) parent notification bill this year in the General Assembly. These issues are fundamental to party principles. All are seeking re-election. They need to be educated. Please email, write, and call them. UPDATE: 2nd SCHOOL BOARD WORK SESSION MONDAY APRIL 4, 2011, open session is at 10 am; closed session to discuss discipline-related legal issues is at 8:30 am. PLEASE SHOW UP EARLY; it was SRO last time!Note: The school board may not discuss legal issues in a closed session unless they meet provisions specified in the VA open meetings law. This is a teacher work day, so students may want to watch their fates unfold. Gatehouse Administration Center. The board will take next steps in discipline review, and will consider Superintendent Jack Dale's proposals. What must NOT happen is that these become the only things considered, or get watered down. The board was explicit in telling him a full review was the BOARD's responsibility. We want immediate necessary changes, then an OVERHAUL. See our press release. Tina Hone, Sandy Evans, Patty Reed, Dan Storck and other enlightened board members need our support. WRITE THEM. Then fill the room AGAIN. Come EARLY. Out of about 75 issues addressed March 14, the board listed 33 to explore. Hold them to it!! Go to boarddocs, click on Meetings - April 4 then Agenda for relevant documents. (Note there is no place for innocence in the FCPS Hearings Flowchart.)
Mission:Transform the Fairfax County Public School
discipline system from a criminal and punitive approach to a restorative,
educational, and therapeutic process by working with families, FCPS,
county staff, civil rights and child development specialists, and legal