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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

LOL- it doesn’t sound like there are many conspiracy theories going on with the lawsuit if the judge granted discovery.  He could have dismissed it if there was no merit to the case or if it was just a bunch of “rich people” complaining!  Why would BH be suing the school board if they were getting moved to the school with one of the lowest % of “at-risk"kids?  They are leaving the school that will have one of the highest % of “at-risk” kids….that does not make sense? Correct me if I am wrong but from what I have heard they are asking to re-do all of the boundaries, not move back to their school. If they were these ‘rich’ people wouldn’t they be happy they were getting moved and be quiet??  It’s CL-19 that is asking to be placed back in their school, right?  Maybe, we should stop giving them slack for where they live and start looking into the facts.

the way I see it is….....who really cares who their attorney is?..  Facts are facts and the judge will see that.  Sounds like this thread has brought out a lot of upset Lansdowne home owners if you ask me.

How did CL19 get Whitbeck? He refused to have a town hall about HS8 which will destroy several neighborhoods in his own HOA. When the residents tried to set up their own the HOA refused to let them use their own clubhouse unless they paid full freight something like $500. AFTER it was a done deal the HOA board invited guess who to speak? Adamo.

So many lawsuits because Loudoun County government is dysfunctional at every level. Taxpayers don’t pay attention until it happens to them.

plot thinkens to charade…..if only you knew what you were talking about.  Are you a writer for the National Enquirer?  lol!  Keep the conspirancy theories coming….we enjoy the entertainment!

Lansdowne Whitbeck a “double agent” on a mission to paper over Bergel’s relationship with the Spring Lakes HOA director by doing pro bono for poor little CL19?

“No, nothing to see here.  See, that what the court outcome is.”

And CL19 thinks it got screwed last November.
Hard to believe such ethical thin ice but we are talking about Loudoun County.

Do any of you fools think Mr. Insider John Whitbeck will push to get at the insiders that made this deal happen?  All of his political friends helped Bergel get elected.  Hopefully Petkovich will do his job.

This entire blog is a joke, get a life and let the judge decide if any laws were broken based on the evidence provided.

Unfortunately, tax payers may have to pick up the tab of a brand new school if the court finds that laws were broken and the boundary process is redone.

Hatrick and company can kiss their butts goodbye if this is the case.

Judge Horne appoints the Board of Equalization.

Use insider knowledge and political connects to help children….what a bum.

Right a wrong with overwhelming evidence that the law was broken, why do that…

My kids are not affected by this boundary decision but it sure is messy and sure should be looked at closely. The school board set out a list of criteria and then did a last minute switch-a-roo once they realized it would not benefit financial supporters and insiders.  Too many people are paying attention to slip this one by.  It stinks of ineptness and even corruption.  If the current plan stands, then so be it.  But there is enough there to justify an investigation into the motives and process.

I hope they depose Bergel about who she worked with on this and get all her emails, but Whitbeck won’t do that because he’s too in bed with them all.  That is why Whitbeck shouldn’t be handling this case.

Bergel will recuse herself because she has constitutes on both sides of the issue just like the school bus seat belt vote.

All this talk about Jen Bergel - while she claims to be a member of various parties at times, she was helped out in getting re-elected by a number of Loudoun Republican insiders who supported her over the LCRC candidate Paul Arias.  Some of those same people are involved in this boundary dispute matter.  Help out Bergel in getting re-elected, and get what you want in the boundary line re-do.  Good deal if you can get it.

I heart Whitbeck - Of course his clients don’t have a problem with his conflict of interest.  That is why they hire him.  They want an attorney with insider knowledge and influence. 

Unfortunately it is up to him to recognize that it is not appropriate for him to take this case, but that is apparently not happening.  Par for the course for Loudoun County pols (or want to be pols).  Still not as disgusting as Tom Dunn’s situation, but it is something voters should remember he tries to run for another office next year.

This all very interesting, however I commend to the Loudoun County readers on this string that you should review the actions (legal, political & social) that have taken place in Fairfax County over the last 4 years.  “When it is man against the institution, the institution tends to win.”

Let’s be Clear….there were 51 kids in the CL 19 Potomac Station neighborhood. 241 in Evans Ridge and Sycamore Hill.  292 total with 120 free and reduced lunch students and 139 ELL students…when they broke it into sections, and the Potomac Station townhomes became their own cluster, guess how many qualified for as free and reduced lunch students?  ZERO.  NONE.  84 of the 116 Evans Ridge children receive free and reduced lunch, and 32 of the 125 Sycamore Hill children do.  NONE of the Potomac Station children did.  I’m not saying that there may not be a voucher or two in there, but to classify it as “low income” is total crap and misleading.  No one is denying that their situation sucks, but to try and say that they are targeted for being low income is a joke…

Even for an experienced lawyer Whitebeck has a lot on his plate if he is on a government committee, running for party office, serving as an HOA officer, and preparing a major lawsuit all at the same time. He will need support.

You meanies need to stop cutting up on my boy John-John. He’s going to make me relevant again.  We will rule the world when he gets more power with me right by his side guiding every move.  Happy Days will be here again.

dear ms peters, please correct the errors in this story. Cl05 is beacon hill, not river creek and cl 19.0 the section of Potomac station that was split from the rest of the community has 35 children, not 135 like your article claims.  Thank you and please proof read next time.

The school boundary issue is pretty important, however it has been over shadowed by John Whitbeck’s involvement.

Anyone with half a brain would see John Whitbeck has a conflict.  One can not serve at the pleasure of the BoS and turn around and sue the School Board, thus suing the County.

Given Whitbeck’s history of his deleterious leadership skills running the Lansdown HOA.  In one calendar year he increased the legal expenditures by $300K and that doesn’t even count the two 6-figure settlements for the home-based day care. 

Whitbeck needs to decide (or his clients) if his involvement in this important issue has become a distraction.  Whitbeck also needs to immediately resign from his appointment position on the Government Reform Commission.  In this particular case, John Whitbeck can not serve two masters while having ongoing litigation against one.

Many residents in CL19 are renters and receive public assistance in order to live there. They are fortunate to be able to live in nice townhouses. So thank you for the acknowledgement and your welcome for the clarification.

I’ll be sure to clarify on your Leesburg today post as well.

F’n internet troll

This is GREAT news for Leesburg! The “Leesburg Boundary Debacle,” or better known as the “BERGEL BLUNDER” has a chance to be fixed! Thank goodness!!! As a resident of CL25, I was appalled by the actions of the board.

If you actually take the time to read both of the petitions, you will understand how Bergel’s Plan (submitted by the affluent and only gated community in Leesburg, River Creek), does a great injustice to all children-especially those who are in the greatest need.

A critical analysis of the adopted plan shows that we are in worse shape than ever! Is that what residents wanted after spending $22 million dollars on a new school?!?

Read the petitions. Do your research.  This is NOT about being “bitter.”  This is about doing the right thing for ALL the children of Leesburg, not just the ones who live in an affluent gated-community and have immense political power. 

Ask yourself how a plan that DID NOT adhere to §2-32 and created so much collateral damage for Leesburg was passed. Was it magic or manipulation?

The residents of CL19 and CL05 just want §2-32 to be followed to the greatest extent possible for all the children of Leesburg. I think it was brave of them to question the validity of this plan. I hope everyone gets to see the “behind closed doors” dealings of the board and maybe next time, things will be different, and BETTER FOR EVERYONE!

What will the Republican school board members do when they need John Whitbeck’s help to get elected if he becomes 10th Congressional District Chairman?  They better do what Whitbeck wants if they know what’s good for them.

The LCPS school boundaries process is and always has been a corrupt political game that wastes valuable taxpayer dollars, consumes school board meeting agendas, and turns neighborhoods into war zones.  Many of us who weren’t even affected by this most recent decision are breathing a sigh of relief that finally one community had the guts to take this all the way to court. Fingers crossed this will force LCPS to overhaul this process.

SERIOUSLY.  Please stop with this insanity of calling CL19 a “low” or “low-mid” income neighborhood.  The townhomes from Potomac Station that make up CL19 could hardly be classified as LOW INCOME….Do you people have any idea what low income housing looks like?  The luxury townhomes that make up CL19 with 3+ bathrooms, garages and at least 3 bedrooms, as well as amenities that include pools and playgrounds are NOT low income.  The original CL19 included Evans Ridge apartments, as well as Sycamore Hill.  THOSE neighborhoods are what gave CL19 its high ELL and Free and Reduced lunch percentages. When you broke CL19 into three areas, the remaining CL19 (which is solely the Potomac Station Townhomes that are now suing) had very little ELL and very few Free and Reduced lunch students remaining.  The VAST majority of the students from the original CL19 that were ELL and Free and Reduced lunch came from Evans Ridge and Sycamore Hill.  Please….be honest and stop this “low” income stuff.  It is a slap in the face to those in Loudoun who truly ARE low income and living in crisis.

Beacon Hill is so bitter about moving out of FHR to Catoctin they will stop at nothing, and at the expense the entire Leesburg elemetary school children community.  It is a terrible example of sour grapes,self serving interests and be their attitude of everyone else be damned.  Shame

I think everyone needs to look at the REAL facts regarding this case. CL05 has NEVER asked to be moved back to FHR. They are asking for the ENTIRE boundary decision to be RE-DONE, so please check you facts before you make your comments!

So, what happens if the Judge decides this summer that the Leesburg boundaries are void??  Does the new school open with NO students??  Or can students be sent to the new school based on illegally adopted boundaries .. and then moved AGAIN after another boundary process???  oh my what a debacle.

Go get them CL19 & CL105! Rip them anohter a hole… They’re so full of it!

Ironically, I’m the one sitting back and laughing…thanks #######.

Please do your research before commenting on this thread. This is a noble effort and community, counsel and supporters should all be applauded.

Bwahahaha! Sir/Madame, this is the Internet. Facts do not matter. Conjecture, defamation is the way of the hypertext mark up language.

If you have such a thin skin, you might want to bail out of this thread because all the Internet pit vipers are slithering at your heels sensing your vulnerability.

This is not the place to try to have a defensive civil discourse. You have a better chance of getting hit by lightning three times and winning the lottery twice before that happens.

Live Free or Die Hard

I think the negative ethical implications lie in some of these comments.

If you cant support a grass roots effort that seeks to highlight true corruption as in the case of LCPS board and staff….who are you supporting?

And please dont reference rich commumities or diversity for that matteras the CL19 group is low to middle income and the definition of diversity.

Is there an editor on staff at the Loudoun Times? Judkins claimed the board members could be deposed, as opposed to disposed! and since when is CL05 River Creek?

Is this the same John Whitbeck who is Hobie Mitchell’s vassal on the Lansdowne HOA Board?

The Whitbeck PR machine is in full swing!  Hurry, Johnny needs help!  Mean people are questioning him!

He is suing the county.  He shouldn’t be on any county committee or have any access to the politicians, but he’s in the running to be a grand poobah of the local republican machine that runs all these politicians.  This is a huge conflict.  Why else would these people hire Whitbeck?  He has tons of control and access to these politicians.

Let’s not make this a political issue. This case has NOTHING to do with the GOP.

This case represents the American way and a strong community effort to right a wrong and if you are not on board or want to waste your time with conspircy theory, call Michael Moore.

More high standards from the Loudoun GOP.  Can I get Randy Minchew to represent me in a rezoning case?  Anything wrong with that?  I don’t even know what Scott York’s “real job” ever was, so I guess I can’t ask him for anything.

Obvious conflict and also…..SPOT ON!  I applaud this community!!  It’s about time.people do the right thing and stand up for the good of a community and county for that matter….too many internet trolls and kool-aid dippers commenting on stuff they know nothing about.  Go gettum CL-19 and CL-05!


Thats like saying none of the school board members SHOULDNT be teachers since it would create biases with their duties and decisions

Thats like saying none of the school board members should be teachers since it would create biases with their duties and decisions.

The only obvious conflict is the one your holding for John Whitbeck. Its obvious your just spitting venom his way for personal reasons. You need to correct yourself since John Whitbeck isnt sueing anyone.  He is representing Eric Deknipp and CL19, it is CL19 that is sueing the school board not John Whitbeck.  Tell me this,  How does him being the lawyer here conflict with the mission of the GRC?  The GRC is supposed to “Conduct an objective review of Loudoun County government functions, taking into account citizen input and best practices from other locales, in order to make recommendations regarding structure, process, and efficiency that would enhance the quality of local government in a cost-effective manner.”  How does being a lawyer for someone in this case conflict with any of that mission?

Whitbeck is representing a low-mid income neighborhood and doing the right thing. Get your minds out of the gutter and let this community have its time in court and stand up for themselves.

Its about time someone spoke up and challenged the school board and frankly, its nice to see residents take part in the judicial process when a clear injustice has occurred.

Please do your research before commenting on this thread. This is a noble effort and community, counsel and supporters should all be applauded.

Thank You.

John Whitbeck is on the Government reform Commission and suing the county?  Only in Loudoun County.

Whitbeck will soon be heading up Frank Wolf’s campaign committee.  Wolf is a decent guy but he needs to watch who he is associating with.

Please do not misrepresent this initiative.

John is not suing the Board of Supervisors, the case is filed against the LCPS Board and them alone.

His affiliations with the GRC and HOA participation is irrelevent and unrelated to this judicial review.

And his HOA.

Question:  How can an Board of Supervisors appointee to the Government Reform Commission be allowed to still be on the GRC, while suing the Loudoun County School Board/Board of Supervisors.  It would seem the ethical thing for John Whitbeck to do is resign from the GRC.

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