The Open FCPS Coalition began a recall effort for three Fairfax County School Board members in October of 2020. At large member Abrar Omeish along with Dranesville District Representative Elaine Tholen and Springfield District Representative Laura Cohen are the members on which that effort focuses.
The issues with the school board members arose during the pandemic when children were not allowed to be in the classroom full time. “Last fall, when COVID was a serious concern, the school board sent out a survey asking if parents wanted their kids to be virtual or in person for class,” said Open FCPS Coalition member Saundra Davis. “Fifty percent of parents said yes we want our children back in person. And then the school board said they would be doing all virtual learning. They ignored the science and the feedback.”
The Open FCPS Coalition is a non-partisan group of parents who wanted their children to be in person for the school year of 2020 to 2021. And when the school board did not listen to their concerns, they decided to take action. “These school board members are using their position as a steppingstone for their career. They did everything but open the schools, they were not putting the kids first,” Davis said. “These board members are not qualified or performing for the kids. They are leading in fear.”
The petitions which the Open FCPS Coalition started have garnered many signatures over the last several months. Their petition to remove Dranesville District representative Tholen is less than 500 signatures away from being complete. Springfield representative Laura Cohen’s petition is more than two thirds of the way of being complete. Once the petitions have enough signatures, the case will be evaluated by a judge. “The way they handled opening the schools was not what we wanted and that is why we want them removed. Not for other reasons,” Davis explained.
With the petitions being close to complete, Davis is passionate about the work which her group is doing and wants to continue to push for removal. “The board is putting politics over education. They are becoming a political machine pushing agendas over children,” the mother said. “They are climbing the political ladder on the backs of our children.”
Davis is also passionate about that the school board does not represent the diverse views of Fairfax County. “The school board needs more diversity in views. Fairfax is diverse, and the school board’s views are not representative of that,” she said. “School boards are not going to run in the foreseeable future without parent scrutiny. Our county ranges in views, and the board is pushing what the population does not agree with.”
Any registered Fairfax County voter can sign to have at-large member Omeish removed, while registered voters who are members of the Dranesville district can sign to have Tholen removed, and voters of the Springfield district can sign to have Cohen removed.
While the petitions are not yet complete, Davis wants to continue pushing for removal of the members. “It is taking so long to have these members removed because our group is busy, we are getting kids through school and working ourselves,” Davis said. “The point was teachers had a voice and the kids did not. The school board did not want the kids to go back to school for a whole year. And meanwhile kids were having many issues at home. Some kids need to go to school to get away from bad situations.”
For more information on the coalition and the recall petitions visit openfcpscoalition.org.