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Leesburg school boundary issues make it to court

The heated topic of the CL19 school boundary issues was brought up in court April 27.

The issue stems from the past School Board who came to a decision in December 2011 to adopt the Bergel Plan 2 Amended which split the children living in zone CL19 between the new Frederick Douglass Elementary School and John W. Tolbert Jr. Elementary School.

A total of 106 residents signed the petition last year representing 135 students under the age of 11 in the CL19 zone under question.

Organized by resident Eric Dekenipp, the residents of cluster CL19 first outlined their concerns in a request to the Loudoun County School Board, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, Potomac Station Home Owners Association and state Sen. Mark Herring (D-33rd) late last year.

Dekenipp and his lawyer John Whitebeck addressed Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Horne with representation of the CL5 (Beacon Hill) zone attorney Michael Petkovich representing Jeremy Acker against Loudoun County Public School’s council Julie Judkins and Stephen DeVita April 27.

The petitioners motioned for a discovery of more emails sent between past School Board members and to set a hearing date. The main concern from both petitioning sides was to get a decision for the students before the school year starts at the end of August.

“This is a big decision for this county,” Petkovich said. “I would ask not to rush this, I don’t think that our county sees decisions made on personal decisions.”

“We have less than 50 kids … I would like to have a decision before September,” Whitebeck added.

Petkovich said that the previous board made a lot of critical decisions behind closed doors and in open meetings that the public wasn’t aware of.  In Judkins defense, LCPS had provided everything required under the Virginia statute and did provide emails that were requested by both petitioners.

“We have decisions made by the board behind closed doors. We need to get a real record here,” Petkovich said in regards to the discovery motion request made on April 27.

“The statute is very clear of what were are supposed to file,” Judkins said. “What else is relevant? There’s a lot of emails … what you’re going to see is one residential development blasting the school board.”

She added that this isn’t a lawsuit, it’s an appeal, one that Petkovich had mentioned earlier in the hearing that they wanted to dispose all the School Board members and question them why they voted on the zoning plan.

According to the letter, one of those concerns included a failure to achieve the publicly stated goals and objectives outlined throughout the hearing process.

“At all seven hearings, a few of the stated goals were to relieve John W. Tolbert Jr. Elementary from being over capacity, balance the Free and Reduced Lunch and the ESL ratio,” the letter states. “The adopted plan is clearly not the solution because under the plan both Free Lunch and ESL ratios are over 30 percent at Frederick Douglass, which makes it the highest populated in both categories for elementary schools in the Leesburg area.”

The letter also questions the proximity and demographics of the students in CL19.

“Cluster 19.0 residents will now have to bus/ drop off their children to a site that is located approximately 3 miles away in the opposite direction, compared to a door to door proximity with Tolbert elementary of 0.2 miles. Maintaining proximity was a goal of the board, but this goal was not met, and the decision will create child care and transportation hardships for our families,” the letter says. “The publicly stated demographic goals were not met with the plan that was adopted. In fact, the adopted plan actually created a new school with demographic rates that are inconsistent, unsound and raise the question of whether specific communities were given special interest based on economic and political influence.”

The residents also feel that a lack of clarity continued to be a problem throughout this process, despite the school system providing a letter to parents of school aged children regarding the possible re-zoning.

“To our knowledge, families without children in LCPS did not receive a letter via USPS or any other official communication. Most of CL19.0 families that we have spoken with feel as though we have not been properly informed by the school board throughout the entire re-zoning process,” the letter states. “During the time period of the seven public hearings, none of our families had received any official correspondence from the board regarding our clusters inclusion in the re-zoning plan and that we had the possibility of moving.”

Horne granted a limited discovery and set a trial date for Aug. 14 and 15 at 9 a.m., with a pre-trial date of Aug. 7 at 4 p.m.

Although the trial states nearly a week before school, Horne said the children who face attending the new school may end up going there and if the decision were overturned they would be moved back to their old school.


Any good maps online pointing out where lines were drawn on this issue?

There is only one thing the current school board and the public need to know about the boundary process undertaken by the LCPS school board last winter:  the school board set forth the criteria it needed to meet when redrawing the boundary lines; they announced those criteria to the public; they proceeded to receive input from the public based on those criteria and then they ignored the stated criteria and passed a boundary plan that DID NOT MEET ANY of the publicly stated goals/criteria. 

I would be fired from my job if I performed like this, without question.  We can voice our displeasure with the board itself via the ballot box in November.  But, in my opinion, the most troublesome part of this whole mess is that the citizens of Loudoun have no say about the performance/tactics of the unelected LCPS staff who wield power and influence behind the scenes – the LCPS staff obviously forget that they work for ALL OF US, not just the privileged few who seemingly were granted special access to the LCPS staff to influence this process and the opportunity to lobby the unelected staff (and in turn the school board) to push their preferred agenda. 

Someone knows how/why this mess was created; someone knows which neighborhoods were favored in the process and why; SOMEONE WITH INTEGRITY SHOULD SPEAK UP NOW and shed daylight on this for the benefit of all – because IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.  Please, speak-up for what is right and don’t ride the coat-tails of the select few who had privileged access to the LPCS staff.

Given the above, there is only one way to address the mess created by the prior school board when they passed a plan that did not meet any of their stated criteria:  revisit the boundary process—- NOW—- before our collective backs are against the wall in August.  If there is even once ounce of truth in the information that is coming out about the way the boundary process was hijacked by a few privileged communities in Leesburg, then the current school board should welcome the opportunity to do the right thing and set boundaries that meet the stated criteria and are fair to ALL Leesburg residents. 

I implore the new school board to take advantage of this gift that has been handed to them by the two law suits currently in circuit court – the opportunity to revisit the boundaries with no questions asked about why they want to open up the issue again – put in the effort NOW to get this right for everyone in the future.

@I Walk, Therefore I Am:
Trailers cost money too, and that’s what we’d be building if we put policies in place to guarantee a family the same school pyramid when they move somewhere (and what if stepsiblings, half-siblings, grandkids, cousins, etc., all move in?) New schools would be built and take years to fill up since no one wants their kid going to a different school. That’d be wasteful too.

@It is what it is:
Do you have any ideas that extend beyond “Make the process better”?

Here’s two ideas:
This is potentially expensive. When a family takes residency at a County address, all the minor children resident in the house at that time are guaranteed the pyramid that exists when they move in. But if kids move to that location (divorce, adoption, etc., etc.) they’d go to the schools the address is assigned to at the time, although the parents/guardians could petition to enroll future arrivals at the original address.

As for school zones? We could, in theory, outsource the zoning/assignment function to some school board in say Henrico, Chesapeake, etc. (other jurisdictions of near-similar size that aren’t fully built out yet) and we’d do the same with their school assignment problems. We’d have to send them the CL boundaries and the relevant data (FARMS, ESOL, etc.), and the guidelines everyone agrees to (e.g. we balance FARMS/ESOL, we don’t have Route 7 or 50 split a zone, etc.)

The result Henrico suggests would then need a straight up and down vote and they agree to do the same with anything we suggest.

I don’t know if Marshal Dillon (Rule) would accept us doing that. I also don’t know how you’d keep our board and theirs from talking, etc. But it seems like it’d be a start, at the least.

@Shaun- Your comments don’t make sense. The School Board has proven to be a (possibly corrupt) bunch of politically-astute flip-floppers, therefore let’s let them control more of our tax dollars??? Is that what you’re trying to say???

And for the record folks, Mr. Hornberger was not on the School Board when this plan was approved last December. And, I believe the petition was filed before the new board took office, which means the new board probably couldn’t do anything about it at that point anyway. However, I agree Mr. Hornberger could and should use this opportunity to address the issues related to the school construction and boundary assignment process. Such a move would require intelligence, insight, and a fair, unbiased approach (like, complying with their own stated objectives), not money.

Thats a bunch of crap, it costs more to bus kids accross to county.

Its wasteful in that kids that live next to a school are being arbitrarily bussed and rezoned for no sound reason accross a county…

Try again.

It’s gotta suck having a kid attend more than 2-3 schools between K-5 and having to send two kids to two different schools.

But this is what happens when you’re building like crazy and people want to live in Ashburn/Chantilly.

Any solutions (e.g. guaranteeing a kid has no more than one ES transfer, guaranteeing siblings can go to the same ES, etc.) are bound to cost money, money that the current school board and a large segment of voters are reluctant to spend.

This lawsuit goes through and succeeds, we won’t be able to open a new school in this county without months, even years of wrangling.

Hornberger didn’t get the LCRC endorsement, so the Whitbeck gang has no problem trashing him.  Expect more.

Proof in the Pudding….Holy Crap, nice find.

How can he sit there and listen to CL19 and not do something? If he does nothing then Ashburnites know without a doubt that he is just another “Politician” who campaigned on transparency and change only to forget both once elected.

That video of Mr and Mrs Hornberger is nothing but the TRUTH!

Watched the video.  I think Mrs. Hornberger’s comments should be repurposed for CL19 verbatim.

Here’s the link to Hornberger in 2009, mintues 6-10:


Anyone interested in watching Eric Hornberger plead his case to the LCPS Board in 2009 click on the link below and watch from minute 6 through minute 10.

If I didnt know any better I would have thought he was from CL19…Weird why he wouldnt stand up for CL19?


Whitbeck is such a sleaze

Bwaaahhhhaaaahhaa…..funny thing chairman Hornberger and his wife were right there on the front lines fighting with you all.  Watching you all was like dejavu for this community.  You’d think now that he is chairman of the school board he would motion to stop the cycle since it happened to his community.

Wishing you the best on all of this…

and laughing watching it happen.

Your dear friends in Ashburn Farm.

Money buys influence, that is the bottom line.  Beacon Hill will always get what they want.  A bunch of average income folks can’t compete.  They don’t donate enough.  They don’t attend party events.  They probably don’t even know anyone in the machine.

It is the same reason that Raspberry Falls will get a water line paid for by everyone else’s taxes.  Some pol will see suddenly “value” in public funding for the project once the donations are put on a platter.  All the others will fall in line to put their hand out too.

Regardless of any single person or group’s motive or objective, the process used to define these boundaries was most definitely flawed and quite possibly corrupt. The process and those who executed it, namely the LCPS School Board, are what is being scrutinized here and the single source of blame.

Did it ever occur to you Whitbeck nayers that just quite possibly he too was not happy with the actions of those he helped get elected, which is why he decided to represent CL19 with their case against LCPS? I don’t know that for a fact, but once upon a time I supported a school board member onto victory, and then later seriously regretted doing so. Quite possibly Whitbeck’s actions are his own buyer’s remorse.

And no, I’m neither a resident of Beacon Hill nor a supporter of John Whitbeck, but rather someone who was too shocked by the outcome of this latest boundary hearing and has grown tired of the endless LCPS school board political shenanigans. LCPS is incapable of monitoring itself, so everyone else must do it for them. It’s sad to be this suspicious of the very people with whom we entrust our children’s education.

Unless you have been told directly from a resident in Beacon Hill that their intentions are all based upon money and power, please keep your opinions to yourself.  It would be very unfortunate if the ones saying these remarks about BH were in the end the ones getting caught with their hands in the greed cookie jar!

The Beacon Hill contingent are economic bigots based on their attitude toward Catoctin Elementary.  They are dragging down their entire community’s good name.

Sorry LOL, was clumping your conspiracy theory comment into several other comments that were blasting BH.  Sorry-

Where is the money, really?  Could you please clarify?  Your comment makes zero sense…..elaborate please….lol

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