Reston, VA

The Herndon Police Department has released body camera footage and a police report to refute allegations that a local police officer was hostile during an investigation of bus fight between two Herndon Middle School students late last year.

The footage and redacted police report were released yesterday (Tuesday) to challenge allegations by the NAACP of Fairfax County that HPD Officer Michael Murn was “openly hostile and angry” during an interview with Sandra Barksdale, her 13-year-old son, Khaleaf Ali, and Sujatha Hampton, the NAACP’s education chair, following the incident. Hampton also stated Murn pointed her finger angrily at her during the interview.

Barksdale alleges the school system and the police department criminalized her son, who she says was the victim in the fight, not the perpetrator. She also contends the officer falsified the police report.

During the follow-up meeting in October of last year, Murn explained that interviews with eight students — who were interviewed with parent permission on school property — indicated that Barksdale’s son started the fight against the student.

Murn said students indicated her son used inappropriate language — including the f-word and the n-word — and assumed a “doubling down posture” against the other student, who was at the back of the bus at the time of the incident.

The officer also added that his interviews indicated bullying began right away and that the other child was defending himself.

“If these children were talking about my child, I would want to know,” Murn said.

The incident occurred on Town of Herndon property.

Barksdale and Hampton expressed confusion about the interviews and requested a police report of the incident during the interview.

Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard defended the police officer’s professionalism and handling of the case.

The NAACP of Fairfax County maintains Barksdale’s son was the victim of the assault. Video of the bus incident corroborates their claim, according to remarks delivered yesterday.

Photo via YouTube

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Herndon Middle School‘s administration is considering installing security cameras on school grounds.

The school’s administration stated that the cameras will “increase the ability to maintain the safety of all students, staff members and visitors within the building.”

Before installation begins, the school’s administration is accepting feedback from members of the school community. An informational meeting for parents is set for Thursday (Jan. 16) at the school at 5:30 p.m.

Lucy Caldwell, the director of news and information for Fairfax County Public Schools, told Reston Now that the move was not prompted by any specific events. Caldwell noted that all high school and middle schools are slated to install security devices in the near future. 

Cameras, by their mere presence, offer a deterrent to criminal and/or inappropriate behavior. Photographic evidence also serves to help identify individuals who are trespassing onto school property, thus greatly enhancing school safety.

Additionally, camera evidence can help exonerate individuals accused of acts they did not commit,” Caldwell wrote.

Photo via Google Maps

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New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci is set to discuss his work at Herndon Middle School next week.

Baldacci will introduce his new novel, “A Minute to Midnight,” which features the story of FBI agent Atlee Pine. The event, which is organized by Bards Alley Book Store and Reston Regional Library, takes place in the auditorium on Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 7-8 p.m.

A giveaway of 100 free signed copies of the book is planned for the event. Copies of the book must be preordered online or by calling 571-459-2653.

Here’s more about the author from his website:

David published his first novel, Absolute Power, in 1996. The feature film adaptation followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 38 novels for adults; all have been national and international bestsellers, and several have been adapted for film and television. His novels are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 130 million worldwide sales. David has also published seven novels for younger readers.

A lifelong Virginian, David received his Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, after which he practiced law in Washington, D.C.

Attendees are also encouraged to bring new or gently used books for donation at the event. The book drive is part of the author’s feeding b body and mind initiative, a with distributes books to food banks across the country.

More information about the event is available online.

Photo via Facebook

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The Town of Herndon has a number of openings for local advisory committees, boards, and commissions.

Town residents are encouraged to apply to open positions in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) — which aims to promote safe walking and bicycling in the town — and the Fairfax County Athletic Council. One resident will represent the town on the athletic council, which is an advisory body that sets policies and priorities to improve sports programs in the county.

Middle and high school students can also serve on the Herndon Youth Advisory Council, which advises the council on issues and decisions relevant to youth. Students who either live in the Town of Herndon or attend Herndon Middle and Herndon High schools are encouraged to apply.

Town of Herndon Mayor Lisa Merkel said the youth council is a critical way to engage Herndon’s youth, especially as the town’s population increases in number and diversity.

“This is a great way for middle and high school students to develop lifelong habits of community activism,” Merkel said. “The voices of our young people are important and need to be heard.”

Applications are available online and at the clerk’s office in the Herndon Municipal Center (777 Lynn Street).

Image via Town of Herndon

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Several local schools were acknowledged by Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand and the Fairfax County School Board for bridging achievement gaps in English and math.

Aldrin and Armstrong Elementary School were among the top ten schools in the county to achieve the highest average increase across all reporting groups in English.

Armstrong Elementary School, Herndon Middle School and Herndon High School earned the excellence in equity award for the highest average increase in math.

Lake Anne Elementary School was one of the top schools in the county to achieve the greatest reduction in the English achievement gap.

Awards were given based on school performance in the 2018-2019 school year and revised accreditation standards approved by the Virginia Board of Education in 2017.

Photo via Facebook

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Herndon student makes honors choir — A student from Herndon Middle School, along with 79 other students from Fairfax County public schools, has been selected by the Virginia Choral Directors Association to perform at the All-Virginia Middle School Honors Choir event scheduled for April 4-6. [FCPS]

Millennials book club — Today, adults in their early 20s and 30s can discuss “Carry On, Jeeves” by PG Wodehouse at the Reston Regional Library from 7-8:30 p.m. [Fairfax County]

What’s up with the Silver Line? — A series of stories by Bisnow is looking at how little of the Silver Line expansion is built as it nears its debut and the developments slated to pop up around the Metro area. [Bisnow]

Restonian bringing laughs to Herndon — Dark Horse Theatre Company will present the regional premiere of the dark comedy, “The Value of Moscow,” by  Amy Dellagiarino, who grew up in Reston and is a South Lakes High School alumna, on April 12-27 at ArtSpace Herndon. [Connection Newspapers]

Photo courtesy Layna Cook

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An annual exhibit showcasing student art returns next week to ArtSpace Herndon.

The Herndon Pyramid Schools Exhibit will feature art created by students from the following schools:

  • Aldrin Elementary School
  • Armstrong Elementary School
  • Clearview Elementary School
  • Dranesville Elementary School
  • Herndon Elementary School
  • Hutchison Elementary School
  • Herndon Middle School
  • Herndon High School

The exhibit runs from Tuesday, April 9, to Monday, May 20, at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center Street).

An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, April 10, from 6-8 p.m.

Some of the art will be available for purchase.

Image via Google Maps

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A new neighborhood shopping center near Elden Street is almost done with construction.

Located at 900 Alabama Drive, the Elden Corner Center backs up against the Herndon Middle School and is across the street from another shopping center, which includes a hair salon, deli and several other stores.

Sanjay Bajaj, the project’s applicant, told Reston Now that construction is slated to finish next week on the 10,000-square-foot retail center, which includes more than 50 parking spaces.

Plans from Capital Realty Advisors, LLC indicate that about tenants have leased about three-quarters of the shopping center, including:

  • a boutique
  • a bakery
  • a hair salon
  • Boost Mobile
  • Peruvian Chicken

Two spaces are still available — an end spot with 1,453 square feet and one in the middle with 1,130 square feet, according to a listing on LoopNet, an online marketplace for commercial property. Tenants are responsible for their build-out, the site says.

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Jigsaw puzzle — For $15, locals ages 55 and older can enjoy Reston Association’s “Puzzle Day” with 500- and 750-piece puzzles to choose from at RA headquarters from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participants can work individually or as a member of a team as the timer ticks away. Coffee and lunch will be provided. [WebTrac]

Avoid the roads during rush hour — With rain and snow expected later today, the Virginia Department of Transportation wants commuters to stay off of the roads during rush hour. Freezing conditions will likely make the roads slick with ice. [VDOT]

Pajama party — The Herndon Fortnightly Library plans to host a pajama party storytime from 7-7:45 p.m. People of all ages can come in their PJs, listen to bedtime stories and make simple crafts. [Fairfax County]

Great Falls parcel remains untouched — Nearly 470 acres of mostly undeveloped land in the middle of northwest Great Falls will remain classified as an agricultural-and-forestal district. “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 22 unanimously granted a 10-year extension of that status to the site at 219 Seneca Road, which has been under that designation since 1981.” [Inside NoVa]

Vaping PSA — Fairfax County Public Schools now has a student-focused webpage that provides information about vaping risks, resources and videos featuring FCPS students. [FCPS]

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Consistent with national trends, black and Hispanic students are suspended at higher rates than their white peers in Reston schools.

Discipline disparities are especially prevalent at the high school and middle school level, according to federal data released by the U.S. Department of Education in late April.

In Fairfax County Public Schools, 40 percent of students are white, 25 percent are Hispanic, and 10 percent are black. But in-school and out-of-school suspensions are higher for black and Hispanic students. The dataset includes information for the 2015-2016 school year on more than 96,000 public schools.

Black students comprise 23 percent of total in-school suspensions and 26 percent of out-of-school suspensions. Similarly, Hispanic students comprise 41 percent of total in-school suspensions and 35 percent of total out-of-school suspensions.

White students, on the other hand, comprised 22 percent of in-school suspensions and 24 percent of out-school suspensions.

At South Lakes High School, black students are about twice as likely as white students to be suspended. They comprise just 13 percent of the total student population but account for nearly 35 percent of all in-school suspensions and nearly 37 percent of all out-of-school suspensions.

Disparities are evident among the Hispanic population at Herndon High School, where Hispanic students make up 39 percent of the total student population, but account for 64 percent of in-school suspensions and 54 percent of out-of-school suspensions.

In a statement to Reston Now, FCPS spokesman John Torre said the school system is concerned about the “disproportionality in school discipline, suspension, and expulsion rates between white children and children of color and is addressing those concerns by promoting and utilizing these alternative forms of discipline.”

At Herndon Middle School, Hispanic students, who make up 40 percent of the student population, accounted for 73 percent of in-school suspensions and 76 percent of out-of-school suspensions. White students made up 34 percent of the student population and accounted for 10 percent of in-school suspensions and 5 percent of out-of-school suspensions.

For black students, who make up 8 percent of the student population, disparities were not as evident. Black students accounted for 7 percent of in-school suspensions and just under 5 percent of out-of-school suspensions.

Major disparities were not as pervasive at Hughes Middle School, where 42 percent of students are white, 15 percent are black, and 26 percent are Hispanic.

White students comprised 8 percent of in-school suspensions and 14 percent of out-of of school suspensions. Black students comprised 27 percent of in-school suspensions and 28 percent of out-of-school suspensions. Suspensions for Hispanic students were in-line with their demographic makeup.

At the elementary school level, fewer overall suspensions were reported. Overall, racial disparities were also not as evident as they were in the middle and high school level.

Data in Fairfax County are in line with national trends. In 2015, 31 percent of students referred to police were black, even though they comprised 15 percent of the total school population. White students comprised about half of all students but only made up 36 percent of student police referrals.

Read FCPS’ entire response after the jump.

File photo via Karen Raffel

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Thursday Morning Notes

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Reston-based Leidos Offering Bonuses to Find New IT Hires — The company, which is the largest IT services contractor for the federal government, is offering a $2,000 bonus for every referral that results in a new IT hire. The company posted a third-quarter operating income of $151 million in revenue, a 34 percent jump in sales. [Washington Business Journal]

Coalition for a Planned Reston Holds “One Reston” Community Meeting — The coalition mobilized Monday night in opposition to a zoning amendment that would increase Reston’s population density, among other changes. After a discussion with attendees during the open floor meeting, the group plans to submit 10 suggested changes to the legislative package before the county by Christmas in order to better manage infrastructure and development. According to Terry Maynard, President of Reston 20/20, said the meeting attracted more than 130 attendees. “A key theme throughout was the necessity of the entire Reston community working together as ‘One Reston’ to meet the challenges of shaping the Reston plan and assuring individual development proposals meet the expectations of the community,” Maynard said. [Coalition for a Planned Reston via Youtube]

Herndon Middle School Bike Shop to Give Away Bikes on Saturday — Bicycles refurbished by the after school program that meets on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, will be distribute to 10 children at the school. Recipients were provided by Cornerstones’ Neighborhood Resource Center in Herndon. Members of the club will provide and fit free helmets for recipients. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

 

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Early Education Discussed in ‘Connecting with Supervisor Hudgins’ Show — In this month’s Channel 16 program, Cathy Hudgins discusses the importance of pre-K programs to help children get a head start in school. [Channel 16]

Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Creates Reston Profile — The organization created a profile for Reston, which lists the community as the second-largest commercial market in Fairfax County and indicates 66 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. Major employers in the area include Fortune 500 firms like Leidos and NVR.  [Fairfax County EDA]

Herndon Restaurant Fire Caused By Unattended Cooking — A fire on Saturday in the late afternoon on the 1000 block of Eldon St. in Herndon was caused by unattended cooking. A wok filled with cooking oil was left on the stove. A violation notice was issued for the restaurant’s commercial fire suppression system. Crews from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and Loudoun County Fire and Rescue responded to the scene. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department]

Herndon High School and Herndon Middle School Partner to Provide Thanksgiving and Holiday Meals — The schools are partnering to raise money for 210 meals for students who struggle with food insecurity. A goal of $10,500 has been set for the initiative, which is run through a partnership with Food For Neighbors. Donations can be made online. [Food for Neighbors]

Photo via Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Herndon PD Plays Soccer with Students — In what has become an annual tradition, on Monday the Herndon Police Department took on eighth-grade students from Herndon Middle School in a soccer match. HMS led 2-0 at halftime and was able to stave off an HPD comeback effort to win, 3-2. [Herndon Police Department/Facebook]

Changes Possible for Section 8 Program — The Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development will host a listening session tonight from 6:30-8 p.m. at Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) to discuss how current and future federal budget reductions are expected to have a significant impact on the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. [Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority]

‘CarFit’ Helps Seniors in Vehicles — A Fairfax County Police Department program provides a checklist to help older drivers be more comfortable and safe as they drive. In an 8-minute video, the program is explained and demonstrated. [Fairfax County Police Department/Facebook]

RSVP Seeks New Volunteers — The region’s largest volunteer network for people 55 and older will hold an orientation event for prospective volunteers on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 1:30 p.m. at Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive). [RSVP Northern Virginia]

Buses Will Be on Holiday Schedule Monday — If you plan to ride the Fairfax Connector on Columbus Day, make sure you’re aware of any route changes that may be in effect. [Fairfax Connector]

Image courtesy Herndon Police Department on Facebook

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