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Fairfax County Public Schools (file photo)

Fairfax County Public Schools will require all workers to undergo “regular” background checks after a now-terminated counselor remained employed at Lincolnia’s Glasgow Middle School despite being convicted of a sex crime.

The new policy is one of several changes announced yesterday (Tuesday) by FCPS Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid in response to an independent investigation into why the school system continued to employ Darren Thornton after he was convicted on March 11 of soliciting prostitution from a minor in Chesterfield County.

Conducted by outside legal counsel, the investigation found that Chesterfield officials didn’t notify FCPS of Thornton’s arrest on Nov. 19 or about his subsequent conviction, according to a summary of the report.

The Chesterfield Police Department has said that its emails to FCPS bounced back as undeliverable after ending up in a spam folder.

Once informed about the conviction, the Fairfax County School Board “acted without delay,” FCPS says. Reid told the community on Aug. 18 that she and the board had ordered an outside, independent investigation into what happened.

The investigation found systematic human resources issues related to hiring, licensure, leave, dismissal, and resignations, according to FCPS. Among the issues are a pattern of suspending employees without pay after felony convictions, rather than “consistently and promptly dismissing” them.

“These have been exacerbated by factors such as significant leadership churn,” FCPS wrote in the summary. “As we plan to work with identifying and implementing strong systems of accountability, it will be important that we implement these actions with fidelity and have frequent accountability checks.”

Reid said in her message to families that she has “begun to take appropriate disciplinary actions” but didn’t detail which personnel are being disciplined or how.

Reid shared results of the investigation with Glasgow parents at a community meeting yesterday, but said that the full report won’t be made public “because parts of it are protected by attorney-client privilege,” WTOP reported.

In addition to requiring regular background checks of current employees, Reid said FCPS will add more steps to the hiring process, including reference checks with former employers and more timely verifications of their licensure status. It will also seek to dismiss and get licenses revoked for any employees convicted of “barrier crimes.”

The school system is also looking at joining the FBI’s Rap Back program, which notifies employers if a worker’s fingerprints are entered into its database in connection with criminal activity. However, FCPS says it won’t be able to enroll in the program until it’s made available in Virginia.

Reid says FCPS is working with state lawmakers and federal, state and local law enforcement “to ensure timely and robust information sharing and notice regarding employee arrests and convictions.” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and School Board Chair Rachna Sizemore-Heizer sent a letter to the county’s General Assembly delegation in August proposing a centralized, statewide notification system. Read More

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Morning Notes

Construction continues on a commuter parking garage on Monument Drive in Fair Lakes (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Huntington House Fire Displaces Six — Fairfax County and Alexandria City firefighters responded to a house fire in the 2500 block of Massey Court at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday (July 6). Started accidentally in “an electrical event involving the attic fan,” the blaze displaced six residents and caused approximately $134,500 in damages, though no injuries were reported. [FCFRD]

Body, Possibly of Missing Man, Found in Newington — “Fairfax County Police say they found a body inside a car thought to belong to a man missing since May. According to officials, 53-year-old Juan Ward from Woodbridge, Virginia, was last seen on May 24…Police said Ward disappeared under unusual circumstances.” [WUSA9]

Dulles Airport Lands Funding for New Concourse — “Dulles International Airport will receive $49.6 million to help fund a new regional airline concourse, among 85 airports receiving part of a nearly $1 billion grant stemming from last year’s infrastructure bill approved by Congress…The funding puts Dulles one step closer to construction of a new Concourse A, which serves United Airlines’ regional flights.” [WTOP]

Supervisors Approve Extra Taxi Surcharge — “As fuel prices remain high, the Fairfax Board of Supervisors in late June approved a temporary uncodified ordinance that provides an emergency $2-per-trip taxicab fuel surcharge through Dec. 29.” [Inside NoVA]

Fairfax County to Overhaul Development Process — The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on July 19 to consider changes to its site-specific plan amendment (SSPA) process, which is used for development proposals that require altering the county’s Comprehensive Plan. Proposed revisions focus on shortening the timeline and taking a more targeted approach to public engagement. [Annandale Today]

Superintendent Michelle Reid Makes Introduction — “After several months of preparation and a six-day, cross-country drive, I wanted to reach out and share again how excited I am to be here in Fairfax County and to be part of the Fairfax County Public Schools family!” [FCPS]

What to Do in the Town of Vienna — “Vienna sits in the shadow of its bigger neighbor Tysons Corner. But don’t let the town’s low profile fool you: Its cornucopia of shops, events, and restaurants make Vienna a worthwhile day-trip destination.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Frying Pan Fair Returns — Fairfax County’s 4-H Fair and Carnival will be back at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon on Aug. 7. The event will feature carnival rides, games, food trucks, a Big Truck Night and farm demonstrations. A list of food vendors and other details will be released in the coming weeks. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

It’s Friday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 85 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:52 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

People watch fireworks at Vienna’s 2022 Fourth of July celebration (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Springfield Motorcyclist Dies After Burke Crash — Becoming the sixth non-pedestrian killed in a vehicle crash this year, Nema Mirsaeedi, 31, of Springfield died yesterday after being thrown from his motorcycle in a crash with a car attempting to turn into a shopping center on Burke Center Parkway. The crash occurred at 6:39 p.m. on Sunday (July 3) and remains under investigation. [FCPD]

County Responds to Supreme Court Security Request — “Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley originally penned the letter, asking that state and local law enforce their respective picketing laws near the homes of Supreme Court justices…Fairfax County officials say they already received the letter and that their stance remained unchanged.” [WTOP]

FCPS Officially Has New Superintendent — “Michelle Reid, Ed.D. was sworn in as the superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools on Thursday, June 30, at Luther Jackson Middle School. Her term begins Friday, July 1. ‘It’s important for me to remember that learning happens best in community, and this is an amazing community,’ said Dr. Reid.” [FCPS]

Hiker Injured Falling Off Great Falls Ledge — “On Saturday, at 2:31 p.m., units were dispatched to 9200 Old Dominion Drive for an injured hiker. Hiker fell 40 feet down a steep rocky ledge. Crews fully immobilized and carried person out via stokes basket to Fairfax County Police Department helicopter. Transported with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Fairfax History Commission Seeks More Resources — “Commission Chairman Cheryl Repetti, who delivered the group’s annual report to the Board of Supervisors June 28, asked supervisors to finance a full-time staff member and allot extra county staff hours to help fulfill the board’s requests of the commission.” [Sun Gazette]

South Lakes HS Stadium Closed — “Hey Seahawks…Our stadium is CLOSED while we make some improvements to it. The turf is being replaced & the bleachers are getting a minor upgrade. Should take a month. Thanks for your patience.” [South Lakes Athletics & Activities/Twitter]

Longtime McLean Postal Workers Retire — “[Scott] Arnold and his best friend in the Postal Service, Rob Receveur, both had served McLean for years, and this past week, both were celebrated as they hung up their mailbags…It’s hard to quantify Arnold’s legacy, but you can sense his effect by how the neighborhood’s residents have shifted their lives to remain close to him.” [The Washington Post]

Firefighter Adopts Rescued Kitten — “May 28, Tower 424 and Tech Austin Adams rescued kitten out of a tree. Kitten was very young. @FairfaxCountyPD Animal Protection took him to @fairfaxanimals. Tech Adams kept in touch. Thursday, he and his wife adopted kitten — now named Ash!” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Virginia Shares Data on Firearm Injuries — “The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched a new data dashboard on firearm injuries in Virginia showing the number and rate of emergency department (ED) visits from 2016 to 2022. The dashboard shows firearm injury data by year, health district, age group, sex, and race/ethnicity across Virginia.” [VDH]

It’s Tuesday — Rain in the evening. High of 84 and low of 71. Sunrise at 5:51 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The U.S. flag flies outside the Freeman Store and Museum in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPS Expands FOIA Staffing and Budget — “Fairfax County Public School added half a million dollars in this year’s budget to keep up with public records requests, which have more than tripled since 2016 and gotten broader in scope. The increase comes as the school system finds itself the subject of political vitriol over COVID precautions and racial equity programs, among other issues.” [DCist]

Vermont Senator Falls at McLean Home — “U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont was set to undergo surgery Thursday after he broke his hip in a fall at his home, according to his spokesman. The 82-year-old Democrat fell Wednesday night in McLean, Virginia, a statement Thursday morning said.” [Associated Press]

Dr. Scott Brabrand on Tenure as FCPS Superintendent — “Brabrand, who was hired as superintendent in 2017, concludes his five-year stint Thursday, when Michelle Reid is scheduled to take the oath of office and serve as his successor…His tenure, which aimed at improving diversity among school staff and working to improve student outcomes, was interrupted by a pandemic that Brabrand called — next to school integration — the biggest event to impact public education in its history.” [WTOP]

DOJ Sues to Stop Merger of Tysons and Reston Companies — “The Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit to block Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.’s proposed acquisition of EverWatch Corp., a Reston cybersecurity contractor…alleging the deal would drive up prices for the government and stifle competition for some work with the National Security Agency.” [Washington Business Journal]

Expansion of Metrobus Student Program Approved — “Students from Annandale High School, Falls Church High School, Marshall High School and the Davis Center will join students at Justice High School in participating in the free student bus pass program using Metrobus. These expanded options for Metrobus will be available for the 2022-2023 school year.” [Patch]

Mantua House Fire Started by Car Engine — Firefighters extinguished a fire that started in the garage of a two-story house in the 3200 block of Barbara Lane on Tuesday (June 28). Started accidentally in a vehicle engine compartment, the fire displaced two residents and caused approximately $182,500 in damages, including the loss of the vehicle. [FCFRD]

County Offers to Help Residents Keep Cool — “Do you need help avoiding the heat this summer? Cooling Assistance is a program designed to help keep vulnerable Fairfax County residents cool during the summer months Applications are now being accepted through August 15.” [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]

It’s Friday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 88 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:49 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Construction at Reston Station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

“Beltway Accord” Still a Mystery — More than two years after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and then-Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans to rebuild the American Legion Bridge, an actual, documented agreement remains elusive. Conflict over Maryland’s Capital Beltway toll lanes project has been a source of anxiety in McLean, where officials broke ground on the I-495 widening last month. [Maryland Matters]

Advocacy Groups Meet Incoming FCPS Superintendent — “On Friday, April 15, representatives of several advocacy groups met with Dr. [Michelle] Reid, as well as Fairfax County School Board Chair Stella Pekarsky and Vice Chair Rachna Sizemore Heizer, to discuss their concerns about the superintendent selection process.” [FCPS]

Registration Opens for Kids’ Summer Program — “The Fairfax County Park Authority is accepting registrations for Rec-PAC this summer at 30 elementary school locations across Fairfax County. Rec-PAC is an affordable, structured, six-week summer program for children in grades one through six featuring a different theme each week.” [FCPA]

New Concourse Planned at Dulles Airport — “A new 14-gate concourse at Dulles International Airport could open as soon as 2026 under plans outlined Wednesday…The $674.7 million project…would be the most significant upgrade to the airport in more than a decade. The planned 400,000-square-foot building would replace the single-story structure that handles regional and commuter flights at Dulles.” [The Washington Post]

Reston Station Adds Wealth Management Firm — Comstock announced on Tuesday (April 19) that the office and private investment firm Cresset Manager has signed a lease agreement for 11,500 square feet on the ninth floor of 1900 Reston Metro Plaza. The company is expected to relocate its D.C. area office, currently in Reston Town Center, to the new space in the third quarter of 2022. [Comstock]

Annandale Baseball Diamonds Renamed — “On Saturday, April 16, 2022, the Fairfax County Park Authority joined the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Annandale-North Springfield Little League (ANSLL) to rename the Pine Ridge Park baseball facilities to the Kehrer Baseball Complex…The change was made to honor two longtime ANSLL volunteers Darryl and Dawn Kehrer.” [FCPA]

Design Update Coming on Richmond Highway Bus Service — The Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) will host three in-person meetings this spring on Richmond Highway BRT. The first one is scheduled for April 28 at Bryant High School and will provide updates on the design and intersection improvements at North Kings Highway and Shields Avenue. [FCDOT]

It’s Thursday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 66 and low of 44. Sunrise at 6:25 am and sunset at 7:53 pm. [Weather.gov]

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