Recall requests removal of board member for online courses
A coalition of parents angered by the months-long suspension of in-person learning in Virginia’s largest school system has submitted thousands of signatures asking for a school board member’s recall.
McLEAN, Virginia (AP) – A coalition of parents angered by the months-long suspension of in-person learning in Virginia’s largest school system has submitted thousands of signatures asking for a school board member’s recall.
The petition submitted to Fairfax County Circuit Court on Monday by the Open FCPS Coalition accuses Elaine Tholen of neglecting her duty when she and other board members opted against in-person learning for about 12 months during the pandemic.
The organizers of the petition claim that the prolonged use of e-learning was contrary to scientific advice and the wishes of a majority of parents.
The coalition said it had submitted more than 5,000 signatures, which would far exceed the approximately 3,500 required.
Under Virginia’s single recall law, Tholen can now ask a judge to dismiss the petition. It would then be for a judge to determine whether to dismiss the motion or to hold some sort of trial to determine whether its dismissal is warranted. If so, she would be removed from her post and a special election would take place.
Tholen, in a telephone interview, said that she âhad been studying for a very long time. It’s my career and I’ve always put students first.
In a written statement, she added, âWhen nearly 60% of the voters in the Dranesville district chose me, they knew I would advocate for the interests and educational needs of their children. â¦ I look forward to continuing to gain the trust and support of my constituents as we prepare to welcome all students in person five days a week.
Fairfax County Public Schools also released a statement supporting Tholen, calling the petition “misguided.”
âThe decision to provide learning via a virtual format last year was a direct result of the circumstances and the health and medical advice available at the time,â the school system said. âThe leadership of the school board and FCPS was responsible for ensuring health and well-being. of its 189,000 students in the unprecedented circumstances of a pandemic. FCPS decided to reopen its schools as quickly as circumstances permitted and did so before many other school districts in the area. The decision to teach online was a tough one, but it was the right one.
The school system has said students will return this fall for in-person learning five days a week, but coalition member Ian Tompkins said the system was not clear on details, including whether teachers will be required to join students in class or authorized to teach. remotely, and whether young students will be required to wear masks.
âParents have been left in the dark about these issues and, as such, have real doubts whether the Fairfax County school system is even serious about opening full-time, in person. for the fall, âsaid Tompkins, a former school board. candidate, at a press conference.
Tholen is one of three 12-person board members targeted for recall by the parents’ coalition. He’s still collecting signatures for board members Laura Jane Cohen and Abrar Omeish.
The recall effort in Fairfax County is one of dozens across the country sued in the past year by parents angry over school closures linked to the pandemic and, more recently, concerns about how teachers and school systems approach racism and race relations.
Copyright Â© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.