School Board Hears More Support for Brewer, Decides on Grandfathering Students

School Board Hears More Support for Brewer, Decides on Grandfathering Students

Once again, the gallery was full of Dominion High School principal supporters at the regular Loudoun County School Board meeting Feb. 28.

Ever since LCPS Superintendent Eric Williams recommended the county fire principal John Brewer in December — who has been on leave due to possible knowledge of a former band teacher’s inappropriate behavior toward students — the Dominion community has rallied behind him. Over 50 people spoke on behalf of Brewer, all asking the board to reinstate Brewer.

The investigation into Brewer is ongoing and will be heard in front of the school board only if Brewer is fired and he chooses to appeal the decision. After public comment closed an hour into the meeting, the board moved to its action items — deciding if students can stay at the school of their choice following attendance zone changes was among the items.

The board voted to allow current freshmen and sophomores at John Champe High School to be grandfathered into attendance zone changes so that they can graduate from John Champe. Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles) moved to grandfather the students who had had their parents request they be grandfathered.

The board adopted changes to the current John Champe High School and Freedom High School attendance zones at its Dec. 13 meeting. The high school attendance zone changes will be implemented fall 2017.

Based on board policy,current juniors John Champe High School students rezoned to the Freedom High School attendance zone will remain at John Champe High School for their senior year, according to board documents.

The policy also includes provisions which may allow current high school siblings of the identified rising seniors and/or rising juniors to also remain at John Champe High School for the duration of their high school career according to board documents.

On Jan. 17, an email and letter were sent to identified families who, based upon the adopted attendance zone changes, will reside in the Freedom High School attendance zone next fall. Families were able to complete a form by Feb. 5 on behalf of their rising grade ten and/or rising grade eleven student if they preferred their current grade student remain at and graduate from John Champe High School instead of transferring to Freedom High School in the fall, according to board documents.

Morse also said the parents of grandfathered students would be responsible for providing transportation. Tom Marshall (Leesburg) said he did not support this part of the motion, as it would restrict students whose parents could not take them to school from participating, he said.

“School choice policy allows kids to go to schools under capacity without provided transportation so this is consistent with current policy,” Morse said.

The vote to grandfather the current ninth and tenth grade students passed unanimously with Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) absent.

The board also discussed grandfathering students at Mercer Middle School.

In addition to adopting John Champe High School attendance zone changes, the board also adopted changes to the current Mercer Middle School and J. Michael Lunsford Middle School attendance zones at its Dec. 13 meeting, to go into effect fall 2017.

Morse moved to not grandfather the current seventh grade students whose families requested they remain at Mercer Middle School. Morse made this  motion in conjunction with a Nov. 29 board decision to deny grandfathering of students at Mercer Middle School who will reside in the new Brambleton Middle School attendance zone.

“Not only is school completely packed, but it has an annex at John Champe and will continue to take up space therefor another year, Morse said of Mercer Middle School.

The motion to not grandfather the students passed unanimously with Turgeon absent.

The board also moved to adopt the updated list of people appointed to the naming committees for the new elementary, middle and high schools; as well to adopt a new tuition reimbursement policy for faculty and the board moed to return $10,988,041 of unspent capital project funds back to the county. All three of these motions passed unanimously with Turgeon absent.