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Black, Hispanic Students Face Higher Suspension Rates in Reston Schools

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

A few years ago, the School Board approved revisions to the district’s disciplinary regulation – Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) – to better align with best practices and reduce suspensions with the goal of keeping students in class by promoting alternative forms of discipline and reducing the length of suspension for certain offenses.  Among the changes: reducing the number of offenses which carry mandated consequences and increasing the focus on school-based interventions.

Suspensions have gone down significantly at the high school level.  Much of this can be attributed to the restorative justice training that administrators received as well as the addition of the Systems of Support Advisor position in all high schools. Out of school suspension declined from 5997 in 2009-2010 to 4103 in 2015-16.

Restorative justice continues to expand as an alternative to suspension for discipline incidents.  Currently, FCPS has five full-time restorative justice facilitators and is working to increase this number as more students are diverted into the program.  Between Sept. 2014 and June 2016, there were 1,086 participants in restorative justice for school discipline.

Restorative justice is a victim-centered process that gives victims a voice about their harm and its effects as well as about terms of repair (including accountability by the offender).  It’s an option not afforded by criminal prosecutions except for impact statements for the most serious crimes. Wider utilization provides some important outcomes to juvenile health in the community, including:

  • lower rate of court involvement and records for first-time offenders, particularly among juveniles of color
  • lower rates of suspension/expulsions in schools, esp. among students of color

One of the beneficial outcomes of restorative justice is an improved relationship between schools and parents of students involved in the discipline process. When compared to the traditional discipline process, parents feel as though the restorative justice approach provides additional transparency because they are fully involved in the process and are given a voice in the outcome, whether their child has been harmed or their child was involved in the harming.

The Alternative Accountability Program  has expanded and is now used countywide by SROs and police for juveniles involved in selected first time criminal activity. The police refer the youth for a restorative justice  conference as an alternative to filing a formal complaint with the court.

In high schools, System of Support Advisors (SOSA) have had significant impact.  SOSAs work closely with youth referred to in-school suspension to determine the cause of referral and prepare students to return to class, reducing repeat offenses.  They observe and work with teachers to help identify triggers and strategies for working with teens who are repeatedly disruptive, and they form relationships with teens and connect youth to other school resources (counselor, psychologist, social worker).

FCPS recognizes and 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.

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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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Herndon Middle School Students Honored for Commitment to Reading

Reading wasn’t something Gladimi Petit Carnogursky, a seventh-grader at Herndon Middle School, considered fun.

But when his school joined the Learning Ally Great Reading Games this year, he latched on.

“My parents don’t really let me play video games, but I have an iPad,” he said. “So I read a lot on it.”

A lot indeed. Gladimi read over 12,000 pages during the seven-week competition. That wasn’t just the most in his school — it was the most in the entire state of Virginia.

“I like the competition,” he said when asked about his motivation.

So did many other students at HMS, as the school won first place in the Metro DC region in the contest and came in seventh place nationally. Participating students read more than 72,000 pages, totaling about 14.5 million words.

The Great Reading Games is geared toward students who struggle with reading traditional text, because of dyslexia or other reasons. Learning Ally provides audiobook technology that offers more than 82,000 human-narrated books to students, who can download them directly to computers, smartphones and tablets so they can read wherever they are.

Gladimi’s friend Trent Norris, who read the third-most pages at HMS, said he liked being able to have a book anywhere he went. He said his mother encouraged him to keep reading through the seven weeks of the Games.

“I liked to read when I was going somewhere with my mom,” he said. “My sister and my mom would be talking, and I’d decide to listen to music, but then I thought I should read instead.”

At a ceremony at the school Friday morning, the more than 100 participating students were honored for the reading they did, and each received certificates of accomplishment. The students who read the most received prizes as well, with Gladimi taking home the top prize: a set of Beats headphones.

“Think about how much this means to me as a principal,” HMS Principal Justine Klena told students. “You all are reading so much, and that is the foundation of education — this is the reason we’re all here. You are engaging in reading and that means you’re getting smarter every day.”

Margot Axenson-Mumford, who read the fifth-most pages among participating students, said she enjoyed reading the first four Harry Potter books for the first time, and she plans to complete the series as she continues to be an avid reader. Her mother, Theresa, said she is impressed by her daughter’s accomplishment.

“I’m really proud of Margot,” she said. “She’s worked really hard.”

Pictured at top: The top 9 students, from left, were Gladimi Petit Carnogursky, Emma Baker, Trent Norris, Christina Roque, Margot Axenson-Mumford, Fabrizio Abarca, Seleni Aguirre-Echeverria, Charles Marotta and Nathan Emmatty. Pictured at bottom: Trent Norris accepts his accolades from Herndon Middle School teachers.

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What’s Going On Around Reston This Weekend?

Between Founder’s Day on Saturday and the Runners Marathon of Reston on Sunday, this is a big weekend for major events in Reston.

But even if you want to stay away from the big Founder’s Day crowd and long-distance running doesn’t sound like a fun time for you, there are plenty of other ways you can enjoy yourself this weekend.

Here is just a sampling of what’s going on in the Reston area in the next couple days.

  • Saturday at Lake Anne Plaza, Founder’s Day will mark Reston’s 53rd anniversary. The festivities will take place between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and will include fun for the whole family. Make sure to check out the full schedule.
  • The Runners Marathon of Reston will have runners all over South Reston from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday. There are still a few slots open for registration, and volunteers are also still needed.
  • Benefitting the Friends of Reston, the Nature House 5K run/walk will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive). The course mostly consists of paved walkways in neighborhoods as well as pathways at the Nature Center and through Glade Stream Valley Park.
  • Two concerts are scheduled for Sunday at CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road) at Reston Community Center. Trout Fishing in America will be performing at 3 p.m., with Dana and the Glorious Birds going on stage at 7. Tickets for the first show are $5 for Reston residents and $10 for non-residents; tickets for the evening show are $15 for Reston residents and $20 for non-residents.
  • NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) is performing “Boeing, Boeing” through April 30. Performances this weekend are tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m., along with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. Tickets are $35-$55.
  • Events at Reston Town Center this weekend include wine tasting at Il Fornaio (11990 Market St.) on Saturday and Zumba in the pavilion on Sunday.
  • The opening reception for “First Blooms” by artist Dorothy Donahey at Reston Art Gallery and Studios (11400 Washington Plaza W.) will be Sunday from 2-4 p.m.
  • The drama department at Herndon Middle School (901 Locust St.) will present “Romeo & Juliet” tonight at 7 p.m., and at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10.
  • At Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive), there will be a showing of kids’ movie “Open Season” and a young-adult writing workshop on Saturday.
  • A bird walk is scheduled for the Twin Branches Nature Trail from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday. No pre-registration is required for the free activity.
  • There’s No Place Like Home” will end its exhibit at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.) on Saturday.
  • Kalypso’s (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music tonight, 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., from Revelator Hill featuring Bobby Thompson. DJ Kram will play Top 40 hits Saturday night.
  • There will be a dance from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday at Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Road). Dancers of all skill levels are welcome to foxtrot, swing, cha-cha and waltz. Cost is $5 for Reston residents and $10 for non-residents.
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Good Causes Get Gift of Cookies Thanks to Reston Girl Scout

Girl Scout cookies are finding good homes thanks to a Reston girl with a charitable heart.

Julia Cartwright, a member of Girl Scout Troop 753, has donated several cases of cookies each to the Reston District Station of the Fairfax County Police Department, the North Point station of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, and the Embry Rucker Community Shelter.

Her father, Alan, said Julia is one of the top Girl Scout cookie sellers in the organization’s Nation’s Capital chapter. The 13-year-old has sold 1,113 boxes this year — all through her own work, her dad emphasized. And when people said they didn’t want any, she offered another option.

“She would ask if they’d like to make a donation to a charitable cause,” Alan said. “With those donations, she turns that into cookies and she gets to make the choice of where they go.”

The Herndon Middle School seventh-grader has done this for the past few years, her dad said. In previous years, she has donated cookies to the U.S. military. This year, she chose to help community organizations in the Reston area.

Alan said the recipients of Julia’s cookie donations this year were all very appreciative of the gesture. He said the firemen insisted on taking a picture with Julia, and the police station has forwarded her information on to the Fairfax County police chief so he can extend his gratitude.

Through her family’s church, Fairfax Church of Christ, Julia has also provided charitable donations to the Washington, D.C., homeless cause. In addition, she volunteers time removing invasive plant species at Walker Nature Center, and she and her parents are all planning to volunteer with the Embry Rucker Shelter in future as well.

“She has a heart of gold,” her father said. “She’s always trying to help others.”

Pictures courtesy Alan Cartwright

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Thursday Morning Notes

1900 Reston Metro Plaza/James Schaeffer Jr.

Reminder: Community Meeting on Street Designs Tonight — Bike lanes, crosswalks and center turning lanes will be among the topics of conversation at a Fairfax County Department of Transportation community meeting tonight at Dogwood Elementary School. Colts Neck Road, North Shore Drive and Twin Branches Road are being considered for the changes. [Reston Now]

Local Students Named to Honors Choir — A total of 77 Fairfax County middle-school students have been named to the 2017 All-Virginia Middle School Honors Choir, which will perform April 27-29 in Blacksburg. Among the honorees are Chelsea Camacho, Hannah Carter, Violet Sather and Thalia Tran from Langston Hughes Middle School; and Johnny Park, Hannah Townsend and Mackenzie Trimble from Herndon Middle School. [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Christy Zeitz/Fellowship Square FoundationFellowship Square Foundation Names New Director — Christy Zeitz (pictured), formerly the executive director of HomeAid Northern Virginia, is the new executive director of the Fellowship Square Foundation. Zeitz was also the former director of development for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance of Reston. The Reston-based Fellowship Square Foundation provides affordable housing and supportive services to low-income seniors and persons with disabilities. It operates four properties, including Lake Anne Fellowship House and Hunters Woods Fellowship House in Reston. [Fellowship Square Foundation]

Home Listings Down in County, Sales Up — The number of active home listings in Fairfax County in January was 1,977. That number is down 17.4 percent from a year ago. Meanwhile, 794 homes were sold in the month, up 6.9 percent from January 2016. The average sale price was $545,772, up 8.1 percent. [Fairfax County]

Photo of 1900 Reston Metro Plaza courtesy James Schaeffer Jr. on Facebook; photo of Christy Zeitz courtesy Fellowship Square Foundation

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Herndon Middle Schools’s Klena is FCPS Principal of the Year

Justine Klena, who has served as principal at Herndon Middle School since 2008, has been named the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) 2016 Outstanding Principal and is a finalist for the Washington Post 2016 Principal of the Year award.

Klena is praised for providing the necessary support for each student to succeed academically as well as socially; staff members encourage students from all backgrounds to engage in activities including performing arts, National Junior Honor Society, Spanish for Fluent Speakers, and higher level classes.

HMS Instructional coach Emily Preston says Klena  is “why great teachers make this school their home.”

Justine Klena/Credit: FCPS“Justine exemplifies what it means to be a collaborative lead,” Preston told FCPS.  “She models what it is to be a learner, promotes the best interests of students at every turn, and maintains perspective by keeping a close tie to what is happening in classrooms.”

FCPS says that from the start, Klena has set a course to make meeting student needs the primary focus and providing teachers with more support to accomplish this.

Klena has instituted professional conversations with staff members at quarterly Snack and Study meetings, invited teachers to take a course on “Differentiation for Diverse Learners,” and created an environment characterized by collaboration and trust that encourages innovation.

Says FCPS:

When the Math 8 team proposed teaching pre-algebra, Klena supported them with resources and logistics to give them planning time and authority to make decisions.

After achieving success on the required SOL (Standards of Learning tests) in 2014, 28 of the pre-algebra students, mostly English language learners, were recommended and enrolled in algebra honors in ninth grade, setting them on a course for more advanced math in high school.

Klena focuses on equitable access for all students into rigorous courses; during the past school year, 10 percent more Black and Hispanic students were taking four honors classes, an effort to make membership in those academics more representative of the school’s total population.

Klena encourages parents of students who are eligible for level IV advanced academic programs to remain at Herndon rather than transferring while helping staff members respond  to the wide variety of needs of the students.

She works with Herndon Pyramid elementary school principals offering the Young Scholars program to open honors classes to more students from diverse backgrounds.

Klena has also worked with families outside the classroom, offering support to families who live in poverty or have experienced traumatic border crossings.

“We now host a major community event to supply food to families through the Generosity Feeds program, and regular meals are provided through Herndon Helping Hands,” Klena said in a statement. The school also now offers reunification counseling, parent education, and weekend English classes for students and families.

One wing of the school is designated for the Family Resource Center.  This year, the school’s bike club gave away 22 bicycles — refurbished by Herndon Middle students — to needy families.

“She is the visionary, the planner, the problem solver, and most importantly, she is the Lead Learner,” says Cassie Eatmon, ESOL teacher, who says that Klena sometimes incorporates creative solutions to hire the most qualified staff members.

“Given the shortage of qualified ESOL teachers, for example, she has been willing to consider sponsoring pre-service teachers who have completed all but their internship for licensure.  She provides support in terms of scheduling and strong mentor teachers to guide the new teachers to reach their full potential in a less-traditional, more demanding on-the-job internship model.”

Klena served as assistant principal at Herndon and Cooper Middle Schools prior to being named principal at Herndon Middle.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Georgetown University and two master’s degrees — in special education and educational leadership — from George Mason University.  She completed a teacher certification program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Photo and video courtesy Fairfax County Public Schools

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