In Lawsuit, Parents Allege County Schools Improperly Secluded, Restrained Students

Parents and disability rights groups are suing Fairfax County Public Schools for allegedly improperly secluding and restraining students with disabilities, according to a report by the Washington Post.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that the school system used practices to “silence, detain, segregate and punish students with disabilities,” according to the complaint.

One of the parents suing the school system — Jennifer Tidd — lives in Reston. Her 12-year-old son attended Kilmer Center, a public special education school operated by the county in Vienna.

“Tidd’s son was secluded on at least 745 occasions and excluded from class several hundred more times over seven years, according to court papers,” the Washington Post reported.

The Fairfax County Public School system told the following to the post:

The parents, Jennifer Tidd, Pamela Ononiwu and Ashley Thomas, are accusing the 189,000-student school system of using the practices to “silence, detain, segregate, and punish students with disabilities,” according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Fairfax school officials said they have completed a thorough and independent review of seclusion and restraint guidelines, and added staff, increased training and appointed an ombudsman for special education. The school system also created a task force to look at best practices for restraint and seclusion. The parents who filed the lawsuit lambasted that task force as a “public relations ploy.”

 “We acknowledge that the use of restraint and seclusion is an especially sensitive and challenging issue and is appropriate only when less restrictive alternatives fail,” Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in statement released late Tuesday. “We will continue to base our procedures and practices on that guiding principle.”

A March investigation by WAMU found that some Fairfax County schools isolated or restrained students and failed to report the incidents to the federal government. The investigation featured the stories of parents whose children were restrained at Armstrong Elementary in Reston and other area schools.

File photo

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Reston Association Board to Discuss Proposed Budget Tonight

Reston Association’s Board of Directors will discuss the 2020-2021 budget at a special meeting tonight (Thursday).

The board is considering a five percent increase in member assessments for next year — amounting to roughly $728 per year.

Agenda materials have not been released yet. In response to questions from Reston Now about staff compensation and the future of RA’s pools, a spokesperson for RA said topics related to staff compensation would be addressed at the meeting.

Agenda materials have not been released yet, but the draft agenda covers the following topics:

  • Staff’s compensation philosophy
  • Findings of a staff compensation report
  • Sponsorship revenue plans and assumption
  • Existing programs and activities
  • Activities that will not happen in 2020
  • Ways to modify RA’s current assessment

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at RA’s headquarters.

Photo via YouTube

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Developer Appeals Denial of Proposal for Apartment Building Near New Dominion Parkway

The developer of a proposed 13-story apartment building near Reston Town Center has filed an appeal against the county’s decision to deny the project earlier this year.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission denied the project in June due its size and scale. NS Reston is proposing to build a 58-unit residential building on the north side of New Dominion Parkway.

The site, which is currently vacant, is next to the Paramount Condominium building and the Winwood Children’s Center, which is approved for a mixed-use building with 125 dwelling units. The county’s planning documents place a 746 unit cap on the two sites, including NS Reston’s project area.

Planning Commissioners said NS Reston’s proposal would exceed the planned density in that area, which is known in planning jargon as Reston Town Center Park 5. The site was also previously marked as a park for more than 20 years.

“There’s some density left, but not 58 units worth,” said Planning Commissioner John Carter at a June 19 meeting, adding that the proposal does not promote circulation and access in a congested area with a major intersection.

The appeal request heads to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Oct 15.

Renderings via NS Reston/Fairfax County Government

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Reston Museum to Host Exhibit in Honor of 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Mission

It’s been 50 years since humans first stepped on the surface of the moon. To celebrate the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission, the Reston Historic Trust & Museum is hosting a special exhibit until the end of the year.

The traveling exhibit, which is called Destination Moon: The Apollo Mission, features posters provided by the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibition service and developed with the National Air and Space Museum.

The exhibit features the command module Columbia — the only portion of the spacecraft to return from the mission in 1961 — as well as other mission-related objects.

Here’s more from Smithsonian about the exhibit tour:

The Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission traveling exhibition will bring the iconic Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia to four cities–its first national tour since 1970/71. The exhibition will also include one-of-a-kind artifacts from this historic mission. Organized in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission tour will launch in 2017 and will travel through 2019. Eyes will be on the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, which is slated to host the exhibition during the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing in 2019. The Museum in Washington, DC, plans to mark the historic occasion by displaying Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit–made possible through our Kickstarter campaign Reboot the Suit.

The Reston Historic Trust & Museum is open Monday through Saturday and is located at 1639 Washington Plaza-N.

The exhibit is made possible with the support of Jeff and Bezos, Joe Clark, Bruce R. McCaw Family Foundation, the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, John and Susann Norton, and Gregory D. and Jennifer Walston Joh 

Photos courtesy NASA

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Del. Ken Plum: Evolution of American Democracy

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Four hundred years ago is a long time, but what happened four centuries ago has implications for us today. Virginia is in the midst of a year-long series of programs and experiences based on events that happened a dozen years after the first permanent English colony was settled at Jamestown in 1607. All the activities taken together are referred to as American Evolution 1619-2019. There are many events scheduled for the remainder of this year.

The planners of the commemoration are to be commended for recognizing that while the historic events that occurred are noteworthy and interesting, the real lessons to be learned come after the actual dates of historic events as we discuss and consider their resulting impact. Many references are made to America’s beginning as being 1776, but it can be argued that the beginning of America as a representative democracy began in the Virginia colony with the meeting of the first representative body meeting in Jamestown in 1619. Remembering that date in 1619 should cause us to reflect on all that has happened after that date that led us to the society and government we have evolved into today.

Similarly, the arrival of 20 or so Africans at Old Point Comfort just down the James River from Jamestown Island four hundred years ago in August of 1619 must be noted. They came not with steamer trunks of fancy dress; they came in shackles having been captured in Africa and brought here at the beginning of a slave trade that would fuel the economy of the colony and then the Commonwealth of Virginia for the next 250 years. To look at African Americans then and now without an examination of what happened in between is to miss a tragic part of our evolving history–the racism that gripped our country for its entire history and is still with us today.

Those Africans who arrived in 1619 were slaves. Soon after their arrival that first legislative body passed laws that defined their enslavement and the limitations on their very existence. The few efforts like Nat Turner’s rebellion that attempted to gain freedom for slaves were put down harshly with further slave codes being passed to limit them from being taught how to read and write and allow for more cruel punishments to keep them in line. When the constitution was written for the new country after the Revolution, slaves were to be counted as three-fifths of a person, despite Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence proclaiming that “all men are created equal.” It was not until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s that the descendants of the slaves of 1619 could claim anything close to equality.

We did not start with a perfect union; we have not achieved one today. We have been on an arc of history that in another context suggests that it is bent towards justice. The American Evolution 1619-2019 program is providing an important context for understanding the stream of history that is our past and upon which we must strive to build a more perfect union.

File photo

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Thursday Morning Notes

Meet the Artist: Peter Fraize — Meet Fraize, a saxophonist and George Washington University professor, today at Reston Community Center’s CenterStage from 2:15-3:30 p.m. Fraize is best known for his freestyle jazz. [Reston Community Center]

Reston Association Board to Discuss Budget Today — RA’s Board of Directors will hold a budget workshop today at 6:30 p.m. at RA headquarters. The 2020-2021 budget includes a five percent assessment increase for members. [Reston Association]

County Fire Station to Host Open Houses — All Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Departments will host an open house this Saturday (Oct. 12) from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Residents can meet firefighters and learn about fire safety. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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