Fairfax School Board Rejects Parental Notification Change

The Fairfax County School Board rejected a controversial parental notification amendment Friday morinig.

The school board met until about 1:30 a.m. Friday to discuss possible changes to its student discipline policy but rejected most of the amendments.

"The ad hoc committee, even though they worked very hard at it, did not find the sweet spot," Fairfax County School Board member Pat Hynes said.

The potential policy change that generated the most concern dealt with parental notification.

"Administrators can bring students in and interview them and ask for a written statement, on a very serious offense, [and then] that the child could be suspended for 10 days and written up for expulsion," Fairfax County School Board member Megan McLaughlin warns. "Parents have no idea that this could all take place without their being involved in the process."

McLaughlin added, "When we leave parents out of that process, we break the faith with the parents, we break the trust with the parents, we also leave our children, who are minors, without that support that they need at such a serious and very scary time for the child."

Westfield High School principal Tim Thomas felt administrators were being unfairly characterized.

"Principals are anything but against parental notifications, for us it's about timing, and when," Thomas said.

He thinks the reality of waiting to investigate a potential offense until parents are notified can be unrealistic.

However, Fairfax County mother of three Karen Cogan, has already warned her children.


Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information

Folger Shakesperare Library reopens

Crash on I-495 near Tysons Corner causing delays

"They are not to speak with a student administrator until a parent is present," Cogan said.

Cogan is the wife of a former Fairfax County Police officer and she understands the importance of gathering evidence quickly. In the case of actual emergencies, the policy would allow administrators to do just that.

"We're talking about weapons, bombs... those kinds of threats to the students and the school building itself, absolutely, everything must be done quickly, and as soon as possible," Cogan said.

Steve Stuban chaired the ad hoc committee and thanked the community members for their effort.

"Your effort paid off," Suban said. "All of our efforts paid off. This is a continuing process."

Stuban's son Nick was expelled from school in 2010 for a drug-related offense. Almost a week passed before school officials told his parents they were investigating. Nick was so distraught that he took his own life.

"We can't get everything but we continue," Stuban said.

Contact Us