Loudoun Valley High School

Why? What was there to hide?

Those were two fundamental questions we had following one of our reporters being barred from covering a meeting between Loudoun Valley High School parents and Principal Sue Ross last week.

In light of school shootings across the nation and a deluge of parent complaints about a new “personalized learning” approach being implemented at Loudoun Valley and across Loudoun County Public Schools – an approach that has led, according to numerous accounts, to Loudoun Valley students roaming the hallways whenever they feel like it, children leaving campus and teenagers vaping in bathrooms – it seemed worthwhile for us listen in and report on those concerns and the administration's response. A core responsibility of local media is to keep parents up to speed on what's happening inside their children's schools.

How the events played out last Thursday was confounding to say the least. The Times-Mirror reporter wasn't allowed to enter the building for the meeting, and she was eventually escorted off school grounds. Score one for authoritarianism.

When we contacted the public information office, we were told we were being kept out because Ross said so, end of discussion. We called the school, and neither Ross nor the vice principal would come to the phone. Score another for dictatorship.

After making our discontent known and asking why we couldn't be in attendance for a meeting about school security on public school grounds, we were told the gathering was not focused on school safety. By then we had obtained an audio recording of the discussion thanks to a concerned parent who wants the truth to see the light of day. Sure enough, school security was a central point of discussion.

With parents' anxiety escalating, a second Loudoun Valley meeting this week was attended by an estimated 100 parents. Again, media was not welcome, and parents told us there was a stern warning that no one was to record the meeting. How unsettling.

Students, meanwhile, have told us they were disappointed and puzzled as to why they weren't allowed to participate in the meeting. Let the hypocrisy sink in for a second: Loudoun Valley and Loudoun County Public Schools administrators say they want to give students more power over their education with a “personalized learning” approach, then they forbid the same students from attending a meeting about instruction and policy. Tally one for totalitarianism.

The current LCPS administration's steely arrogance is reaching dangerous levels. Ross' desperate power grab would be funny if it weren't so frightening.

Loudoun County Public Schools' devoted protectionists are doing anything but protecting the school system's reputation. With secrecy and silence from one scandal to the next, parents are left searching for answers and pleading with local media for help.

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-Related: "Editorial: An F for Eric Williams"

(23) comments

ConcernedTeacher

Sounds just like Stone Bridge High School has become with its current administration. Students roaming the halls, vaping, and skipping class are the least of the problems right now. Until they are gone that school is going to continue to go downhill as well!

btm11

People with problem schools should contact their school board representatives. LCPS is run by a Superintendent, Dr. Eric Williams, who was hired by the School Board to run the school system. Individual school principals report to him through his staff. His staff includes Director of School Administration Virginia C. Patterson, to whom School Principals report. The LCPS School Board are the part time, elected represents, who provide general policy guidance to the school administration. Your school board member can be contacted about problems that you feel a Principal or the LCPS Superintendent is not handling to your satisfaction, or a matter of School Board policy.

ScaredStudent

I can confirm that I have left school multiple times to fulfill my food cravings. This behavior needs to be stopped and those students need to grow up. I did.

ConceredParentAtValley

I attended the meeting held earlier this week. During the meeting, Principal Ross was dismissive of parents who are deeply concerned about the chaotic situation at Valley. She simply has no interests in addressing parents’ concerns regarding lack of safety and security, noisy hallways during class time, and lack of instruction during classes. I have spoken with many of my friends who have kids attending various high schools in Northern Virginia area. In all other high schools except Valley, attendance of classes is reinforced. In all other high schools except Valley, school administrators walk up and down the hallways to make sure that no students are wondering around and that the hallways are quiet during class time. In all other high schools except Valley, teachers are given a chance to teach. For many of the sophomore, junior and senior students, there are multiple AP level classes. How do you expect high school students to learn AP level materials without teachers’ lecture time? Discussion, collaboration and self learning should all be a part of high school learning. However, teachers’ lecture time is just as important. Principal Ross action indicates that she is merely pushing “personalized learning” on the teachers and students without real understanding what it really is. She simply has no interests in listening to concerns from teachers, students or parents. “Personalized Learning” should not be her excuse for allowing Valley to become an unsafe environment, or for lack of teaching or learning. Our Valley kids will be held to the same standards as other students from high schools in Northern Virginia area when they are ready to apply colleges or jobs. Valley parents, how can we put our kids in such an unsafe environment? How can we allow our kids to be put in such a disadvantaged position? Something has to be done.

Waterfordresident

I’m just sitting back, pouring a drink and watching liberal policies fail...again...as always.

Hateyuppies

Liberals are like locusts.They ruin their urban environment in the Rust Belt states,then migrate here and vote Democrat.

amerigirl

[offtopic][offtopic][offtopic][offtopic]

amerigirl

why is this a liberal issue?Why do you think it has anything to do with politics?

Teaforten

What they are doing at Valley is NOT in any way shape or form “personalized learning” - it might be helpful for people to ask other schools how they are implementing the personalized learning model. When done correctly it engages students and they take ownership of their learning. I would not want my kids at valley- doesn’t seem at all safe.

LVHSGrad17

After reading this article, I can only assume that the editorial writer is out of touch with Loudoun Valley and is only writing based on word-of-mouth.

I graduated from Loudoun Valley two years ago, and all the claims made in this article are far from the truth and overexaggerated. I received a great education here and LVHS is top-tier when it comes to public schools.

The article makes claims to students roaming around in the hallways "whenever they like" and "children leaving campus". This is obviously not true. Students need written permission to leave campus, and teacher permission to leave the classroom. We weren't able to leave campus at all, even during lunch breaks.

And sure, teenagers vaping in the bathrooms might be an issue. But students who get caught vaping get reprimanded anyway. What do you expect is going to happen? Do you want teachers to start banning students from using the restroom? Do you want teachers to set time limits on bathroom use? Sounds like fuel for another bad editorial from the Loudoun Times.

And barring your reporters from going to a school meeting is blown out of proportion. Frankly, it was a meeting between teachers and school administrators. Principal Ross was in her rights barring the media from attending this event. You want something? Call the public information officer. I've done that before. Mr. Byard is very transparent about LCPS policies and can give you good information. Your article is just conspiracy fuel for people to make connections that aren't there.

To make matters worst, you don't back up any of the claims in your article.

How the hell does any of this equate to dictatorship?

PvilleRes

A LOT has changed at Valley since you graduated. The hall roaming has escalated exponentially this year. Students can leave class at will and go to the mixing bowl or wherever they want, allegedly to do work. But there is no real monitoring of this, so students are able to easily leave. No hall pass is required. You can walk in to the building at any time of the day and it looks like it is a break between classes as there are so many students in the halls. There is no discipline for vaping, there is no enforcement of this at all. Many students do not use the bathroom at all during the day because every bathroom is full of people vaping and using drugs. This is not an exaggeration, this is the reality of what is happening at LVHS right now. Ms. Ross stood in front of a room of 100 parents and denied that students are able to just leave campus while half of the room could tell you that their kids have done exactly that. Go to McDonald's during the day - lots of LVHS students there. This was not a meeting between teachers and school administrators, it was between parents and school admin. Teachers were not allowed. How does this equate to dictatorship? It literally reminds me of when Baghdad Bob stood on international TV saying that Baghdad was not under attack, as bombs were landing on targets behind him. Either Ms. Ross is completely oblivious to what is going on at her school, or she flat out lied to a room of 100 parents. Neither is acceptable!

ScaredStudent

you don’t go to valley anymore. periodt. things change.

Deborah Morbeto

If there is nothing to hide no one should have any issue with the press.

StoneBridgeMom

As a mother of a teenager and active PTSO member at Stone Bridge, I have enjoyed open and honest communication with our school's administration this year at our meetings. I do not think the meetings between parents and school administration officials are a place where members of the media should be present. Having reporters on the scene, quite frankly, would reduce candor and openness that can occur when parents and administrators are engaging in dialogue. Further, the commentator should familiarize themselves with the Loudoun County Public schools policies with regard to school building administration (3040) and school-community communications (2510). The principal was 100% within her rights to not allow members of the media into the school building, as management of school property is a principal's responsibility and charge. If you don't agree with the school system policies, perhaps you can petition the school board for amendments to them. (Aside: This particular board has been active in updating policy and I applaud those actions.) This is not authoritarian action; this is (in my opinion) proper school facility management.

ValleyParent

Open and honest communication is key. I'm so glad you have it at Stone Bridge, but that is not the case at Valley. When the results of the school climate survey come out, take a look at Valley's results. I agree with what you're saying about not be able to be as candid though. Not all of the information in the article was accurate which was frustrating, but it did bring to light the frustrations that have been brewing for a while and has now come to a head.

David Dickinson

Sue LCPS. They don't care about kids. They don't care about parents. They care about lawsuits. Those are their priorities.

Virginia SGP

Exactly.

Valleyparentof3

Many of my friends who are Valley parents and I were not even aware of this second meeting. When is someone on the school board or at the LCPS going to intervene. This school is out of control. Once a source of pride to say you were a Valley student, now it is embarrassing. And frustrating. In a beautiful part of the county, without many of the problems that plague more urban schools, our administrators have managed to turn Valley into a dangerous, progressive, unruly school that is going to lose a lot of good families and students. Good luck retaining those high achieving students that Valley has always touted—those families who care will be sending them elsewhere.

Hateyuppies

I'm a 1975 graduate of LVHS.It was a simpler time,and school "scandals" were almost non-existent.My daughter enrolled at Valley after enduring three years at Woodgrove(the students called it "Weedgrove").While my daughter was a senior at Valley,she was regularly harassed by the school resource officer,as he thought she could provide information on other student's alleged drug use.My daughter was threatened with "DEA" agents(I call BS on those guys).My daughter was called back to school on a Friday after classes,because the resource officer heard a rumor she was having a party at our home over the weekend.She called me,in tears,and I told her to keep walking,don't go,back.I called the resource officer and asked him what business is it of the school,what we do in our home on the weekend?So,to make a long story longer,these high schools in Purcellville are a mess.

amerigirl

You are more patient than I am. I would have confronted that resource offices with my school board member. It's none of his business if your daughter is having a party or not.

Hateyuppies

Amerigirl when my daughter called me I was in Alabama on cattle business.I called the resource officer and cussed him out up one side and down the other.That's all I could do on short notice but it had the desired effect.

swampfiller

A letter from an attorney would get more of a response, a little slow but more effective.
I don't trust the school board to effectvely do their job. SHERRIF should be another non elected position, you can't fire them. It doesn't matter what party.

swampfiller

They shouldn't be questioning your daughter without a parent or your attorney present.

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