Loudoun Public Schools Administration Building

The Loudoun County Public Schools administration building in Ashburn

A new school year is upon us, and here's to hoping this one is better than the last.

We want to be optimistic about the year ahead, but we must first see changes within both Loudoun County Public Schools administration and the School Board.

As the saying goes, “It starts at the top,” or, more bluntly for LCPS in recent years, “A fish rots from the head down.”

While it may be a new school year, we can't clear the slate for Superintendent Eric Williams after his egregious missteps during the 2018-2019 year. After bungled communication on items ranging from the Tuscarora High School sexual assault to chaos in the halls of Loudoun Valley High School, it's our sincere wish that Williams takes greater steps into public view and becomes a more forceful, reassuring and, if it calls for it, disciplinary leader for the 84,000-student school system.

With those greater steps toward accountability in mind, it is incumbent on School Board members to become more independent from the grip of LCPS administration. Not nearly enough honest inquiries and firm voices were heard on last year's problems, which, in case you've forgotten, included: the aforementioned locker room sexual assault at Tuscarora High School; another incident wherein a former Tuscarora student was free to walk around the school with a firearm; an LCPS reading instructor charged and eventually convicted of unlawfully filming – “upskirting” – female students; numerous public intoxication charges against employees; a Loudoun County High School teacher charged with soliciting sex from students; repeated reports of students freely roaming the Loudoun Valley High School halls whenever they please, many of them heading to the bathroom for a quick vape; and a shameful physical education lesson during which students acted out the role of slaves escaping through the underground railroad.

And that list isn't even exhaustive.

The School Board's primary charge is to ensure a safe and productive learning environment. For that to happen, the School Board must hold the administration accountable, ask the hard questions – doing so in a public setting – and not write off the concerns of everyday parents. We hear far too many stories from Loudoun parents who reach out to their board representative and either never hear back, or wait several weeks for a reply.

Within the schools themselves, we know the majority of LCPS principals are honest, hardworking educators who love their students. But a select few – Dominion's John Brewer, Tuscarora's Pamela Croft and Loudoun Valley's Sue Ross among them – have soured the perception of the ever-growing school district. We press principals at all levels to communicate with their teachers, to give them support and encouragement and, most essentially, to spot simmering troubles. That at least four LCPS employees were arrested on charges related to alcohol and intoxication at school last year is more than a little disconcerting. That roughly one LCPS employee was charged with a crime every month during the 2018-2019 year is downright frightening.

Principals, know your school, know your teachers. Be present.

As we find ourselves reminding those that blindly support LCPS without considering the system's shortcomings: What if it was your child? What if it was your son under the care of an inebriated instructor? What if it were your daughter who was being preyed on by a teacher?

Let's do better this year, LCPS.

***

(12) comments

btm11

Commenters make it seem as if we had a monolithic School Board. In actuality there are liberal and conservative factions on the School Board that often differ on approach. In any event, it's not clear to me how much attention the School Superintendent pays to the elected School Board.


Virginia SGP

There are no "conservative" factions on the school board unless you count social issues. There was a LOT of discussion about transgender policy as a result of about 1-3 kids in the entire district. Regardless of your position on this issue, that is a lot of oxygen to consume on an issue that doesn't affect how 80K+ students are educated.







This school board has:







1. Repeatedly asked for 10%+ funding increases year after year after year. In the last couple of years, enrollment growth has been less than 2%. In no universe is 10%+ funding increases considered conservative. Rose, Turgeon and Morse's penchant for massive spending would make Nancy Pelosi blush.







2. In every legal matter - guidance counselors refusing to inform parents about a suicidal student, SpEd kids being denied services, the list goes on - LCPS takes a scorched Earth strategy and does not release any info. In fact, they took down the suicide policy when the parents of a student simply asked what happened to their son. This is not the responsibility of the Supt, this is per the School Board's direction.







And even if you are suggesting the Supt is the cause of the problems, the SB has only 3 jobs: approve a budget, vote on policies and hire/fire the Supt. This SB picked the Supt. They have extended his contract and given him big bonuses and a glowing evaluation. The SB has 100% of the blame for what has/is going on in LCPS. To say it's time for a change is simply stating the obvious.


Qwertyuiop

Saying that discussions regarding transgender students is only “about 1-3 kids” is ignorant.


melanieworrall

LCPS problems run deep. Parents of students with disabilities have been dealing with “shocking” and “unacceptable” incidents for years. But no one was listening and there was no accountability, only blame on the parents. Perhaps now that the issues are affecting the broader student population, maybe solutions will be widespread as well. With a billion$+ budget, ALL students deserve better.


Virginia SGP

There are at least 2 incumbents running for school board who have been unwilling or unable to fix these problema: Eric Hornberger of Ashburn and Brenda Sheridan of Sterling. Make it your mission to remove them from office during the November election this fall. That is the only way this gets fixed.


romano

So sad what Loudoun Valley HS has become under Sue Ross. How on earth has she survived when such a vast majority of the parents want her gone? Shame on your Dr. Williams.


Virginia SGP

This is what happens when someone has protected status. In theory, it shouldn't be harder to remove them. In reality, nobody has the courage to try for fear of being labeled and for all the paperwork it entails.


workhardgetahead

What do you think you're going to get when Liberal democrats are running the schools.


amerigirl

Blame , blame, blame. If they aren't doing it the way you like it then they must be liberals, and you know this how?


Chris McHale

Set the bar low and then trip over it.


amerigirl

Love it!


jke

As Ike said about the military industrial complex the same can be said about the School Complex. The current school board acts more like union representatives then education enablers. From the top down is correct but as long as they get more money they will gloss over the error of their ways. The new crop will hold Williams accountable lets make it happen. Vote for Turner, Neely, Newcomer, Sisson and Ram for a positive difference in grades.


Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.