Red Apple Mom

June 10, 2011

Janie Strauss & Ilyrong Moon Point Fingers on Failure of Parental Notification

In a vote of 5 FOR and 7 AGAINST – parental notification FAILED to pass at Thursday night’s Fairfax County School Board meeting.

Blame Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.  School Board member Janie Strauss did.

Janie "I voted NO on parental notification" Strauss

In an effort to give herself some air cover for her NO vote, Strauss cited Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia saying, “Justice Scalia is careful to look at the words in the law.” 

That’s fine.  However, the School Board doesn’t pass laws.  It passes policies.  So, it’s interesting that a liberal Democrat like Janie Strauss would cite a conservative Supreme Court Justice as justification for her NO vote on a “policy.”

Strauss said she was “troubled” by the wording in the parental notification amendment and said she wouldn’t support it.  She said she didn’t like that the amendment said parents should be notified “prior to questioning.”

Of course, if Strauss was so troubled by the amendment’s language, she could have made a motion to offer alternative wording in the amendment.  But she didn’t.  Instead, she stood in solidarity with Superintendent Dale and his staff and voted NO – against the wishes of parents and students.

That’s right.  Janie Strauss –School Board member running for re-election in McLean, Great Falls and Herndon – voted against the parents she claims to represent.  She voted NO on parental notification.

Parents Rally for Discipline Reform

As a result, FCPS officials don’t have to call you before your child is questioned about a discipline violation or pressured to sign a confession.   In fact, you may not know your child has been interrogated until hours after the questioning has taken place and after your child may have already signed a confession – without any counsel from you.

But Strauss doesn’t want voters to blame her for failure of the parental notification amendment.  Oh no, no.  Point the finger at how Justice Scalia reads legal text instead.

Let’s be clear.  Janie Strauss should be held accountable for her NO vote on parental notification.  Election Day – November 8th is your chance to end her too-long career on the School Board.

At-Large member Ilyrong Moon should also share some of the blame for the amendment’s failure because he sponsored it.  You’d think he would have taken the time to be sure the issue was crystal clear for his colleagues to ensure passage of this critical amendment.  Unlike Strauss, Moon did not blame Justice Scalia – but he did blame FCPS staff.  Unbelievably, Moon had FCPS staff write the amendment for him.

Isn’t that a bit like letting the fox guard the hen house?

Debate on Parental Notification Amendment

Dale and FCPS staff absolutely do not want parental notification.  So why did Moon have FCPS staff craft the amendment when he should have done it himself.  Can’t he write his own amendments?  He’s a lawyer for Pete’s sake.  What a waste of an At-Large School Board position.  It’s just another reason why Moon doesn’t deserve re-election either.

We need School Board members who are going to seriously advocate for the parents and students they claim to represent.  Janie Strauss and Ilyrong Moon don’t.  Show them the exit door this November.

School Board members who voted NO on parental notification:

Janie Strauss – Dranesville District (*running for re-election)

Kathy Smith – Sully District (*running for re-election)

Liz Bradsher – Springfield District (not seeking re-election)

Jim Raney, At-Large (not seeking re-election)

Brad Center, Lee District (not seeking re-election)

Stu Gibson, Hunter Mill District (not seeking re-election)

Tessie Wilson, Braddock District (not seeking re-election)

Related Articles:

Fairfax County Public Board Docs – Action Taken By FCPS School Board (June 9, 2011)

FCPS School Board Proposed Amendments (June 9, 2011)

Fairfax Scales Back Discipline Policy (The Washington Post, June 10, 2011)

School Board Votes to Make Discipline Process More Flexible, Supportive (The Patch, June 10, 2011)

Parents & Community Rally Before School Board Decision (The Patch, June 9, 2011)

Disciplinary Policy Changes Coming to Fairfax County Schools (WUSA-Channel 9, June 9, 2011)

Fairfax School Board Takes Up Zero-Tolerance Policy Reform (WJLA-Channel 7, June 9, 2011)

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6 Comments

  1. How very troubling and sad. Why are these 7 elected officials protecting the status quo rather than the best interests of students? Kudos to Evans, Hone, and Reed for advocating for a reasoned and just discipline policy. Looking forward to November 8!

    Comment by pommefrites — June 10, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

  2. Personally, I can see both sides of parental notification. I think teachers and administrators should be trusted members of the community who have the responsibility to arbitrate in situations that require questioning students. However, questioning is not coercion or an interrogation and it shouldn’t last for long periods of time. The bill had some wording problems. I wish it could have passed. However, the later exchange between Hume an d the Superintendent was unnerving. Ms. Hume said that the reason that this amendment is brought before us is because of abuses of questioning and untimely parent notification. The Superintendent denied that. She asked–politely asked if there is a happy medium. If the school could question for 30 minutes before calling parents. that way the school could have a better idea of the nature of the incident and what direction it wants to pursue. She asked for common sense. The Superintendent would not budge. It was clear in the exchange that the Superintendent does not believe they are abusing their rights in interrogating student and that the schools should be able to continue what they are doing. I am frightened by the Superintendent’s response. Based on that I am in favor of some common sense policy that defines the limits of the school and parents rights.

    Pastor Gerry Johnson

    Comment by Gerry Johnson — June 11, 2011 @ 10:37 am

    • As I have stated before on this blog, my father was an undercover narcotics officer in Detroit for years. He’s busted up drug gangs and he’s done interrogations. Even my dad – who has seen it all – thinks FCPS’ policy on parental notification is crazy – especially when it doesn’t even involve an alleged criminal offense – as was the case with this amendment. Parental notification may well make a principal’s job more difficult. But in failing to notify parents of their child’s impending interrogation, FCPS is potentially making the parents job more difficult. They have to deal with the emotional child after the interrogation. They may face legal expenses trying to redact a student’s confession that was made under duress and not an accurate portrayal of what actually occurred. Upon my law enforcement father’s advice, I have already instructed all of my children not to say a word to FCPS authorities until I or my husband can arrive to the school. I advise other parents to do the same. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE is going to take away my right to provide counsel and support to my child – especially when they are most vulnerable. And if my child does do something wrong, there will be consequences to pay and I will get to the bottom of it working WITH FCPS authorities. It should be a partnership – not ganging up on a kid to coerce a confession that may turn out to be false.

      Comment by Red Apple Mom — June 11, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

  3. Please forgive me. It is Ms. Hone not Hume. By the way, I think Ms. Hone showed considerable leadership in her well worded amendments and her ability to get a consensus among her peers and her ability to know what the real issues were. Good job Ms. Hone.

    Pastor Gerry Johnson

    Comment by Gerry Johnson — June 11, 2011 @ 10:45 am

  4. Pastor Johnson wrote:

    [School board member Tina Hone] asked for common sense. The Superintendent would not budge. It was clear in the exchange that the Superintendent does not believe they are abusing their rights in interrogating student and that the schools should be able to continue what they are doing. I am frightened by the Superintendent’s response. Based on that I am in favor of some common sense policy that defines the limits of the school and parents rights.

    Thank you for noting the troubling position of the superintendent. Is this someone with the best interests of our students in mind?

    Comment by pommefrites — June 12, 2011 @ 10:33 am


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