Countywide

Fairfax County School Board chair aims to succeed Braddock District rep, who won’t seek reelection

Braddock District School Board Member Megan McLaughlin is retiring from the position (courtesy Karen Bolt)

Fairfax County School Board member Megan McLaughlin will not be running for reelection in the Braddock District, as at-large member Rachna Sizemore Heizer sets her sights on the seat.

On Monday evening (Feb. 6), McLaughlin announced via a newsletter that she will officially “retire from this position” when her third term ends on Dec. 31, 2023.

“I have also been deeply honored by your tremendous support throughout my tenure,” McLaughlin wrote. “However after more than 15 years of service [including three terms as your School Board Member and previously as a community advocate], I believe it is the right time to provide an opportunity for others to carry on this important work.”

She told FFXnow in an email that the decision to retire “was very difficult” since advocating for students’ needs is the “best part” of public service.

“After 12 years, I will have done all that I can to help strengthen FCPS,” she said.

McLaughlin was first elected in 2012 and touts implementing later high school start times, establishing the Office of the Auditor General, and reforming student discipline practices to be less punitive as her biggest accomplishments during her tenure.

In 2020 and 2021, in the midst of Covid, McLaughlin advocated for schools to reopen. She called then-superintendent Scott Brabrand’s reversal of a decision to return to in-person learning a “breach of trust.”

She was only the school board member who was praised by a parent group advocating for an in-person return to schools, while the group tried to recall several other members.

For her remaining time on the board, McLaughlin told FFXnow that she looks forward to assisting Dr. Michelle Reid in her adjustment to being superintendent and adopting Fairfax County Public Schools’ new strategic plan.

“I will continue to champion stronger fiscal oversight of FCPS’ $3.5 Billion budget, and expanding access to Pre-K for our youngest learners,” she said. “And I will do my very best to help strengthen public trust and confidence in FCPS.”

Fairfax County School Board chair Rachna Sizemore Heizer (courtesy Kyle the Girl Photography)

With McLaughlin’s retirement, school board chair Rachna Sizemore Heizer announced this morning that she will run for the open Braddock District seat. She’s currently one of three countywide board members, but wants to represent her home district.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past few years and excited to build on that progress because there is much more to be done,” she wrote in a statement. “Ensuring an inclusive and exceptional strengths-focused education for every child is more important than ever.”

When first elected in 2019, Heizer was the first Asian American woman and first Indian American person ever elected to a countywide position in Fairfax County.

In 2020, she responded to the then-education secretary Betsy DeVoe’s criticism of FCPS by saying she won’t “be bullied into blatantly unsafe plans…If I don’t get re-elected bc of it, I’m good.”

Heizer said she’s “grateful” for McLaughlin’s 12 years on the board and thanked her for her attention to issues like restorative justice and student health as well as “her insistence that we pursue excellence in all we do on behalf of taxpayers and students alike.”

Heizer has been on the board for just over three years and touts her work expanding access to advanced academics, providing raises to teachers and staff, and shifting the school division’s culture to one that respects neurodiversity.