Tysons Corner, VA

Parents and disability rights groups are suing Fairfax County Public Schools for allegedly using seclusion and restraint improperly for students with disabilities, the Washington Post reported last night (Tuesday).

One of the parents suing, Jennifer Tidd, reportedly lives in Reston and her 12-year-old son attended Kilmer Center, a public special education school in the Vienna area that is run by Fairfax County.

“Tidd’s son was secluded on at least 745 occasions and excluded from class several hundred more times over seven years, according to court papers,” the Washington Post reported.

An investigation by WAMU earlier this year discovered hundreds of cases where FCPS students were restrained or put in seclusion multiple times — despite FCPS repeatedly telling the federal government otherwise.

The WAMU investigation highlighted stories from parents who alleged that improper seclusion and restraint happened at Armstrong Elementary in Reston and Eagle View Elementary in Fairfax.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to the Washington Post.

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Some students at the overcrowded McLean High School may end up moving over to nearby Langley High School.

The Fairfax County School Board approved an amendment to its Capital Improvement Program that kicks off a boundary study about moving some students from McLean High School to Langley High School.

McLean High School is projected to go up to 127 percent capacity by the 2022 school year, according to the CIP.

Other possible ideas outlined in the CIP to address overcrowding at McLean High School include temporary classrooms and modular additions.

Jane Strauss, a school board member for the Dranesville District, said at the meeting that — if no changes are made — McLean High School will be the most overenrolled school by 2023.

While Strauss said that McLean High School is not the only overenrolled school in the county, she said that the other schools have a plan to address their crowding, while McLean High School does not.

“This fall, more trailers came into McLean which indicates that the overcrowding situation is continuing,” Strauss said.

The trailers are starting to get cramped on the constrained site, Strauss said. “Trailer villages — as we’ve all agreed — is not the solution.”

Langley, which was recently renovated, has extra space to accommodate the students.

“It’s unusual to have this much capacity in a neighboring school,” Strauss said about Langley.

A few school board members, including Elizabeth Schultz, who represents the Springfield District, and Thomas Wilson, who represents the Sully District, criticized the amendment, saying it lets McLean High School leapfrog more severely overcrowded schools in the county.

The school board voted 9-1 on the amendment — Wilson voted “no” while Schultz abstained — during the Sept. 26 meeting. Staff is expected to begin the scoping process this fall.

Strauss said that community members from Langley and McLean high schools will help decide the future decisions around the possible boundary change.

“It’s overdue for the McLean community,” Pat Hynes, the Hunter Mill District representative on the school board said.

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Passers-by may notice some new street art around Vienna.

Four local teens from Madison High School teamed up to paint three storm drains around the town last weekend. The works feature nature scenes and can be found outside the Freeman Store (131 Church Street NE).

Midge Biles, the chair for the Vienna Public Art Commission, said that the group often tries to partner with schools to sponsor art installations. For this project, the commission asked their student representative from Madison High School to recruit volunteers.

“The drains turned out beautifully and are all very different,” Biles said. “We are hoping to bring the message of environment and how it is all connected — what goes in the drain ends up in our oceans and has far-reaching effects on our water quality, sea life and beyond.”

The art should last for about six months, according to a tweet from the town.

The project required 10 gallons of paint which were donated by Vienna Paint (123 Lawers Road), Biles said.

In the future, she said that the group hopes to commission more paintings around town.

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A new education center opened in the Mosaic District earlier this month.

Kumon (2980 District Avenue) began enrollment in late August and now offers young students extra help in subjects like math and reading to supplement their education, Tanya Khandpur, the location’s owner and main educator, said.

The center works with kids from the early stages of reading and math all the way through calculus and reading comprehension, according to the location’s website.

Khandpur said that business has been excellent since they opened and that the center has met its enrollment goals.

She employs several assistants to help teach the kids at the center in small groups. “For students qualifying into our early learning program we work two students to one assistant and for our main classroom, we work four students to one assistant,” Khandpur said.

Parents who are interested in the company’s programs can sign up online or attend an orientation session. The center is open from 3-  p.m. Monday-Thursday.

Kumon also has locations in Vienna (525 W. Maple Avenue), Falls Church (7115 Leesburg Pike) and McLean (1320 Old Chain Bridge Road).

Once a Kumon student herself, she said she personally believes in the center’s mission.

“I feel very strongly that the Kumon program can serve beyond academics and build a strong bond between parents and children, especially when implemented correctly.”

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A young Vienna resident is the recipient of a national honor recognizing upcoming leaders in the scientific community.

Siona Prasad recently won the Davidson Fellow Scholarship for her work in environmental science and climate change, which included $25,000 in college tuition assistance at Harvard University, where she began studies this fall.

Leading up to this moment, Prasad said she applied for this award several times in the past and was thrilled when she finally became a recipient.

“My family was very proud and we were all excited about the scholarship,” she said. “It means the world to be recognized for my work.”

She added that being included in the network of other fellows and alumni network is also an honor. Prasad will attend a ceremonial dinner for the award on Sept. 27 in D.C.

The Davidson Scholarship awards young adults age 18 or younger with scholarship money who demonstrate outstanding achievements in the scientific community. Applicants must be either the lead student scientist on a project or conduct it independently, according to the scholarship website.

Throughout her high school career at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, she worked with researchers and professors at the University of Maryland to develop low-cost CO2 sensors that were easy to scale and implement in cities.

These sensors can detect where greenhouse gasses are emitted from within city limits and allow the government and environmental research agencies to ultimately combat the effects of climate change, according to a Davidson Institute press release.

“We have less than a decade to solve the biggest environmental crisis we have ever faced,” she said.

Across D.C., Prasad said she was able to install nine sensors on places like telephone polls and collect data that is now in the hands of University of Maryland professors.

Before the project, Prasad said she was always interested in the environment and was particularly motivated when former President Barack Obama’s asked if this generation is doing all they can to prepare a better future in his 2016 State of the Union address. Prasad said she wanted to answer his query with an honest “yes.”

Prasad said she plans to study computer science and environmental science at Harvard, adding that she’s also interested in entrepreneurship and startup companies.

“Technology is one of the most powerful weapons we have against climate change,” Prasad said.

Photo via Davidson Institute

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An upcoming community garage sale in McLean will offer people the chance to buy or sell unwanted items.

Hosted by the McLean Community Center, the sale offers more than 50 booths and even an area where kids can practice their entrepreneurial and business skills.

If anyone wants to set up a booth, it will cost $45 or $35 for McLean residents. For kids aged 3 t0 15 wanting to set up a booth, there will be a fee of $25 or $15 for McLean residents. The webpage warns that spots are available on a first-come-first-serve basis and interested parties can contact organizers by email.

For those looking to buy or just browse the selection, admission is free.

The event will be held regardless of the weather on Saturday (Sept. 14) from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the intersection of Ingleside Avenue and Beverly Road.

Photo via Freddie Marriage on Unsplash

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Tired of underpaid jobs and inconvenient hours, three entrepreneurial McLean teens decided to start their own company.

Their new company, TeenServ, aims to solve teenage unemployment with a platform that matches students and community members who need short-term assistance with various tasks. Website users can pick-up shifts wherever and whenever they want, making it convenient for hectic schedules.

Around a year ago, Jack Lannin, Quin Frew and another McLean teen were walking home together from the local pool where they worked as lifeguards, upset that they received a significant pay cut when they came up with the idea for TeenServ.

Lannin told Tysons Reporter that pay change “almost cut their salary in half,” and they wanted to find another job but there were few options.

“Aside from getting a real job, reffing sports or yard work, there isn’t really a good way to make money,” Lannin said, adding that even becoming a referee requires a significant startup cost for teens — around $70 — to pay for training and a uniform.

They started out by going door-to-door and asking community members if they would pay teens fair wages for short-term yardwork. Soon enough, they began gathering opportunities.

“For teens, it’s really intimidating going door-to-door,” Lannin said. “But for us, it wasn’t a big deal.”

With help from an entrepreneurship class at McLean High School and feedback from peers, the students were able to turn their idea into a reality. Currently, they said they are learning as they go, thanks to guidance from their class and feedback from customers.

So far, the website has employed more than 200 teens, according to Lannin.

The third founder, whom Tysons Reporter wasn’t able to receive parental permission to publish their name, said one of his friends has made more than $1,500 so far by taking on random jobs and managed to build a rapport with homeowners who request him for all their upcoming tasks.

TeenServ pays students up to $18 per hour — well above Virginia’s minimum wage of $7.25.

The boys say the platform is mutually beneficial for community members and teens. The community members enjoy working with teens because it gives them an opportunity to interact with someone they otherwise wouldn’t, and teens feel like they are giving back to the community, they said.

If the customers are unsatisfied with the work, the three founders will come back to finish the job free of charge. The founders said they only had to take a customer up on this once or twice so far.

“For the future, we really want to start with McLean and expand as large as possible thought the area,” the third founder said.

Photo Courtesy TeenServ 

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With school now back in session for Fairfax County, the county’s public schools have several programs to help hungry students.

Nineteen Fairfax County public schools, including Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, will take part in the Community Eligibility Provision, which provides all of the students at those schools with free breakfasts and lunches daily.

At the other FCPS schools, household size and income will determine eligibility for the free or reduced meals program — approximately 38% of FCPS students qualify, according to FCPS.

Students from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families may also be eligible. The program also caters to foster children and students who are homeless, migrant or runaway.

Households may apply for free or reduced-price meals at any time during the school year by filling out the applications, which will be distributed via mail and are also available at the principal’s office in each school.

FCPS will follow the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines in the chart below:

Earlier this year, Jackson Middle School and Graham Road and Timber Lane elementary schools joined 39 Fairfax County public schools in participating in the At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, a new after-school food program that provides free meals or snacks to any student.

Four Tysons-area elementary schools are joining 24 other ones in the county that have opened or plan to open a Real Food for Kids Salad Bar for the 2019-2020 school year.

The following schools plan to open the salad bars by:

  • Sept. 18: Spring Hill (8201 Lewinsville Road)
  • Feb. 12, 2020: Westbriar (1741 Pine Valley Drive)
  • March 25, 2020: Haycock (6616 Haycock Road)
  • May 20, 2020: Churchill Road (7100 Churchill Road)

FCPS wants to bring salad bars to all of its 141 elementary schools and has salad bars opening at about 30 schools per school year.

Second image via FCPS

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Ahead of the new school year starting next week, Fairfax County Public Schools debuted a new partnership with an app that will help parents track when the school bus will arrive.

After a pilot program, the FCPS Office of Transportation Services announced FCPS will offer the “Here Comes the Bus” app for the 2019-2020 school year yesterday (Monday).

“[The app] uses HTTPS like a bank or online store, making all communications between a device and the site are encrypted and secure,” according to FCPS, adding that the app uses GPS to track the locations of the buses.

Started in 2001 by a pair of graduates, the app has nearly 1.5 million registered users and is used in school districts across the country, spanning Orlando to San Antonio.

Since the app tracks the bus routes instead of individuals students, FCPS wants people to remember that bus substitutions can affect the accuracy of the app and that app shouldn’t replace communication with students about their whereabouts.

The app is free for parents and guardians and provides real-time bus locations through text or email alerts, according to FCPS. The app will be available to use starting next Monday (Aug. 26) for FCPS families.

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Tonight (Monday), the Fairfax County School Board is set to discuss a proposal that would change how local school boundaries are adjusted.

The draft policy on the table would look at a new set of criteria for establishing school boundaries. They include:

  • “socioeconomic and/or racial composition of students in affected schools”
  • “the safety of walking and busing routes”
  • “operational efficiency”

“When boundary changes are being considered by the School Board, the changes shall not be restricted by the boundaries of individual schools, administrative areas, zip codes, or magisterial district,” according to the draft.

Some critics of the proposal pointed to the removal of criteria — such as “instructional effectiveness”– for boundary change considerations as a possible threat to property owners.

The meeting is set to start at 5 p.m. tonight at 8115 Gatehouse Road, Room 1600 with the redistricting proposal slated for 6 p.m. on the agenda.

The board is then slated to approve the draft in September ahead of its incorporation in the Capital Improvement Program draft in December.

Image via Google Maps

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