Public Debate Was Unfairly Thwarted, Says Chairman Steve Knotts
The Fairfax GOP is blasting last night’s rushed vote of the county school board to hire Michelle Reid as the district’s new superintendent. Reid currently leads the struggling Northshore School District in Washington State. She was hired last night by Fairfax County Public Schools in a 9 to 3 board vote.
“The selection of Michelle Reid — like the selection process itself — is further evidence of the sheer contempt school board members have for the students, parents, and taxpayers of Fairfax County. Particularly stunning is the fact that Dr. Reid’s Northshore School District was among the very last in Washington State to reopen after the pandemic-related closures,” Fairfax GOP Chairman Steve Knotts said today.
“Despite Virginians saying loud and clear they wanted their schools open by electing Glenn Youngkin last November, the Fairfax County School Board selected a superintendent with one of the worst records on reopening in the entire country,” said Debra Tisler, a Fairfax parent and former teacher. “The entire country is zigging, and the Fairfax County School Board is zagging.”
Tellingly, the school board rejected a far more qualified Black candidate: Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Cheryl Logan. “While the board talks a good game on equity and diversity, in the span of three months it has been found to have violated the civil rights of Asian Americans in Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology admissions and rejected a candidate who would have been the district’s first Black superintendent,” said Harry Jackson, a former Thomas Jefferson PTSA president. “Dr. Logan was eminently qualified and ran a school district in Omaha much more comparable in size and demographics to Fairfax than Dr. Reid’s Northshore district.”
The Northshore School District has a fairly abysmal record when it comes to the education of students. On Reid’s watch, English scores dropped 6.7 percent and math scores fell by 14.1 percent. Northshore parents even sought to recall school board members last year and enrollment declined by 2.3 percent over the last two years. Things in Northshore are so bad that one school board member sends her own children to private school.
With such a flawed candidate in mind, the Fairfax County School Board did not inform the public ahead of last night’s vote to hire a new schools chief. “It’s the height of arrogance to push through a candidate in the dead of night without notice,” Chairman Knotts said today. “I have no doubt the decision not to inform the public in advance of last night’s vote was deliberate, to avoid parent protests before and during the meeting. If board members were truly confident in their choice and if they had any respect for their constituents, they would have let the public know ahead of time.”
County parents are now concerned that Reid’s hiring portends a continued emphasis on politics rather than core academics — and perhaps even a return to failed COVID policies that needlessly close schoolhouse doors. “Fairfax parents of all political persuasions support a course correction back to focusing on educational excellence. Unfortunately, by selecting Dr. Reid, who saw test scores drop in her current school district, the school board continues to demonstrate that a simple, straightforward focus on educational excellence is not its top priority,” said Saundra Davis, a Fairfax parent who attended last night’s meeting.
“What parents want for their kids is very simple: teach them to read, teach them to write, teach them math and neutral history, and prepare them for the world,” added Jackson. “Instead, the board has chosen to double down on its obsession with a faddish, ideological ‘equity’ agenda and lack of commitment to keeping schools open. Why can’t they just keep the schools open, teach the basics, and leave it at that?”
The Fairfax GOP is the Republican Party of Virginia’s largest political unit. Follow the committee on Twitter: @FairfaxGOP.