Enraged Parents Take Over, Say They Have Signatures to Recall School Board Member Over Closings


Fed up with their school board, a group of parents in suburban Washington, D.C., are petitioning for the removal of one of the board’s members.

The Open FCPS Coalition of Fairfax County, Virginia, said in a news release that its members have filed more than 5,000 signatures Monday in Fairfax County Circuit Court against board member Elaine Tholen.

The removal effort stems from schools being closed for the past year and requires 3,500 signatures, according to The Associated Press.

Along with other board members, Tholen has “continuously failed the parents and students of Fairfax County,” Open FCPS Coalition founder Dee O’Neal said. “Rather than focus on how to accommodate all students during a historic pandemic, she instead focused on the politics of the day. That’s not what students deserve.”

Frustration with the school board has simmered since the summer of 2020, according to the Open FCPS website. At that time a survey of parents indicated 60 percent favored in-class learning, but the board ignored the survey and opted for distance learning.

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“The choice to shutter our schools was done even though the head of the Fairfax County Health Department advised the board that [it] was safe to open,” the website said.

Open FCPS said the board “consistently ignored every medical and education expert who warned of the learning loss, mental health toll, obesity increases and stress on families.”

Affluent Fairfax County (median annual household income nearly $125,000) is solidly blue, with over 70 percent voting for Joe Biden in 2020).

But there’s more going on besides action against pandemic school closures. Bubbling up has been some resistance to critical race theory.

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Last week, near a Fairfax County school board meeting, there was a rally against CRT, and local NAACP Vice President Michelle Leete made national headlines when, in referring to the CRT opponents, she said “let them die.” As a result, Leete was forced to resign from a position she also held with the Virginia PTA.

The Open FCPS website takes digs at CRT in noting that, instead of making plans to open schools, the district spent $20,000 “on a speaker to train them on Critical Race Theory.”

The website is also critical of the board, teachers and staff for going to the head of the line to get vaccinations while there was no effort to reopen the schools.

Open FCPS has dared to criticize the teachers union: “The behavior of teachers’ unions is enraging, but not surprising,” read a tweet from Phil Klein of National Review posted on the website. “What has surprised me has been the passivity of the parents. Many seem resigned to whatever officials decide. If they got mad and organized it would provide counter to unions that could force reopening of schools.”

Passivity? Apparently no more.

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And it might be there’s notice that unrest is spreading from the deplorables in flyover country to the heart of Biden territory that is affluent suburban Washington.

Is it a coincidence that Monday there was a story in Education Week that the U. S. Department of Education is backtracking on plans to provide priority grants on “systemic bias”? While the department didn’t mention the 1619 Project that describes America’s founding as intricately tied to slavery, or CRT, it seems obvious those topics are part of the systemic bias programs.

If liberals are getting restless about what’s going on in their schools, perhaps there can be a slight bit of hope of general reform.

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Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.