I would like to start by stating the obvious that several Parents and students are struggling with Virtual learning. Grades are plummeting and our children are falling behind. As if all of this weren’t bad enough, FCPS board members Mr. Frisch and Ms. Cohen are holding a virtual fundraiser on January 16th to celebrate the departure of Betsy Devos, as secretary of education. This is the epitome of unprofessionalism. As a parent of a Fairfax county school student, I expect much more from my school board members. Cashing on a political administrative change is quite embarrassing and tacky for school board members who are supposed to be bipartisan. Did the school board members not sign Virginia school board code of conduct? If so, did they both violate it? If so, what are the repercussions of it?

While we are talking about failing policies of FCPS, Ms. Ann Bonitatibus, TJ Principal was awarded Outstanding Principal of Region 2 — because of her activism vs because of academic excellence. Along with extending Superintendent’s contract, this is a travesty. I have seen a list of all the emails where it clearly shows her active involvement in the irrational social justice changes brought upon into TJ admission process and how these changes impacted merit system for middle schools students coming from Carson, rocky run and other schools where majority of minorities attend. These changes are an attack on merit and are only an attempt to hide all the failures of the FCPS policies that have resulted in the inequities in the first place. A lot of money was spent on name changes (~$678K for justice high school name change) and Critical Race Theory training ( $20K for speech + $14K for books). The LIFT Program through TJPF which was never successful in identifying and mentoring minority kids and no action was taken on the people who are administering these programs. Instead hard working Asian American freshmen class of 2021 is being victimized by applying illegal quota’s to hide your failures. Have you given up on improving the pipeline? Is this the only way you are going to empower the minorities — by attacking merit?

Moving to the school board and ongoing Irrational proposals from Superintendent , the board accepted a last minute resolution, a last minute change from the superintendent of school , you did grave disservice to all children and parents of Fairfax county and neighboring counties.. You they got it in as a 1.5% reservation, but you did not mention that it amounts to 55% reservation. You said it is for top 1.5%. But you failed to mention that you aren’t even taking GPA into consideration, there is no test, and hence the top word is meaningless. Also I couldn’t help but notice that there is fine print in your admissions page which says that school board will offer waivers to some students ( outside of the eligibility criteria ) — which is going to be an issue as well. The holistic admissions process has so many factors that are not relevant to gifted ness and these are only introduced to do a racial balancing by introducing illegal quota’s. Out of the 26 middle schools in FCPS, only 14 are full time AAP centers, and the other schools don’t have access to advanced courses that is part of the new eligibility criteria. By giving waivers to these schools, you are going to introduce an admissions system that is not transparent and is prone to meddling by each school, and it will have a severe impact on the quality of students admitted into TJ. Any student who is not properly prepared to attend TJ will have a tough time with the rigorous curriculum at TJ and you will be held responsible for their emotional stress. By removing a county wide selection process and changing that to an individual school based quota, you are effectively implementing a sudden arbitrary boundary change where a zip code will prevent previously qualified students to not be selected. This is Gerrymandering and this boundary change needs to stopped immediately so that citizens cannot be penalized for FCPS failed policies of improving some schools. Instead of focusing on improving the quality of the students, you are penalizing students from high performing schools and that particularly those schools where there are a lot of minorities who are going to be impacted.

Most people who heard it assumed it meant toppers / individuals who are doing academically well in science and math in each school will be selected. However the proposal was just smoke and mirrors. If an underprivileged child belongs to a underprivileged family and moves into a magnet school because the child is taking honors courses, they will be at disadvantage because the current admission criteria is forcing children to compete with each other. So again they will be leaving out more gifted children then what the old admission criteria did, they will be creating more inequity in the name of equity

I would like to conclude by thanking Melanie Meren, Hunter Mill representative who broke away from the ranks and did not vote on the last minute proposal because she had not yet studied it properly. Superintendent gave the board 2 to 3 hours to study the impact of the new proposal. Please note that there was zero public input and I rest my case by saying that.

Thank you very much

Srilekha Palle