Red Apple Mom

February 11, 2011

Sparks Fly Between Superintendent Jack Dale & the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

Sparks flew today between Superintendent Jack Dale and his main benefactor – the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) over the issue of Fairfax County Public Schools’ Zero Tolerance Policy.

Earlier this week, the BOS took the unusual action of unanimously passing a resolution directly aimed at FCPS’ disciplinary process.  The BOS resolution, titled “FCPS Zero Tolerance Policy,” directs county agencies to share resources and expertise in family services to assist troubled FCPS youth.  The resolution also invites all FCPS stakeholders to report back to the BOS with “options and alternatives to the current policy” –  the Zero Tolerance Policy.

Encouraging community engagement and a partnership between our schools, the BOS and the public sounds like a great idea.  It’s not sitting well with Superintendent Dale though.  In a bold statement to the BOS today, he chastised the Board’s use of the words “Zero Tolerance Policy” saying it “perpetuates the falsehood that FCPS has a zero tolerance policy.”

Dr. Dale seems a day late and a dollar short on that call.  Perception is reality and the BOS and the public has long known FCPS’ policy by the name  “Zero Tolerance.”  In fact one of the co-founding members of the Fairfax Education Coalition (of which I am a member) is the group “Fairfax Zero Tolerance Reform.”    If this term was “incorrect,” the word police in FCPS’ $2 million communications department could have and should have corrected the public’s perception on that one a long time ago.

Dale’s letter concludes saying, “I strongly recommend that all members of the Board of Supervisors learn more about FCPS’ practices and policies before making public statements that are misinformed…” Ouch!   Is FCPS so used to talking down to taxpaying parents and teachers that they don’t mind doing it to their “elders” – the Board of Supervisors too?!

It’s surprising that Dr. Dale chose to chastise the BOS in public and not behind closed doors.  Just last week, he and the School Board requested an extra $48 million budget transfer on top of the $1.7 billion the BOS already gives our schools.  I wonder how generous they’ll feel now that their petulant son, Dr. Dale, has called them “misinformed.”

I suspect what’s really going on here is the beginning of a turf war.  As an unelected official, Dr. Dale controls 53% of all county revenues.  He’s appointed by the School Board and they basically do whatever they want without any oversight from the BOS – until now.  The BOS is dipping their toes into FCPS territory and that has to make the Superintendent uneasy.   After all, today’s partnership with the BOS on disciplinary review could become tomorrow’s independent audit of how FCPS really spends their $2.2-$2.5 BILLION budget.

Yes, I suspect this very public letter Dr. Dale sent actually has very little to do with FCPS’ Zero Tolerance Policy.  Oops –   we’re not supposed to call it that.  So let’s just say that “policy we can’t call Zero Tolerance” needs reform.  Since the public funds the county budget and our schools, this partnership makes terrific sense.  So kudos to the Board of Supervisors for proposing a solution that includes the public and values their input.  It would be a welcome turn of events  if the Superintendent felt that way too.

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  1. Jack Dale has stooped to a new low. He thinks EVERYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH HIM IS MISINFORMED. The parents in Frederick County were ***thrilled**** to get rid of you, Jack, it was on the parent advocate website. Do you really think that you can BULLY the Board of Supervisors? This is just plain laughable. Oh we can’t wait, yes Jack, the new school board will put you in your place – just wait….

    Comment by redmomma2 — February 12, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

  2. So true and so disturbing. Superintendent Jack Dale has demonstrated a dismissive attitude toward the public–his employers–more often than not. Now he’s taking that same tact toward the Board of Supervisors–not a good move. While the BoS is very careful to not oversee or over-reach school system business, they DO have the power of the purse. Another problem is that the school board has allowed the Superintendent and his staff to virtually form school policy. Looking forward to the 2011 school board elections!

    Comment by pommefrites — February 16, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

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