McLEAN, Va. (DC News Now) — At a Tuesday night town hall, upset parents called for answers from Virginia’s largest school district after more than 250 students were not immediately told they were nationally recognized commended scholars.
Some of those parents are worried it may have hurt their child’s chances to get into their top colleges.
As part of a series of town halls, one stop at each of the three impacted high schools in the county, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid spoke at Langley High School in McLean before going to Westfield High School in Chantilly.
Reid did not reveal much detail regarding the ongoing investigation to parents, though she did say that in each of the three cases the principals “signed the commended certificates, and then they’re handed to staff to get distributed.” But she did give parents a chance to sound off and express their concerns.
Some attendees of Tuesday’s town hall shared the worry that Fairfax County’s commitment to equity played a role in not telling students — meaning, the schools were concerned about the racial makeup of the group who achieved the honor.
Reid said that’s not the case, and equity is about uplifting.
“Our responsibility is to ensure that each and every student achieves their fullest potential,” Reid said. “So it’s not about outcomes in the sense of a lid in terms of capacity. I think that would be devastating for our country.”
FCPS Parent Amy Paladini said she is not convinced equity wasn’t a factor and wants answers as to how the delay happened.
“Was the delay in them being informed, was it politically motivated?” she said in an interview with DC News Now. “Were they hoping to somehow change the outcome of what the demographics look like in terms of who was commended?”
Throughout the night, Reid apologized and vowed to restore trust and share findings from an independent investigation. But some parents said they’re not buying FCPS’s original statement that it was a one-time human error — especially now that three schools faced the same error.
Reid addressed that concern, saying: “There are times where the truth is difficult to believe, and this may be one of those times.”
On Tuesday, one parent addressed the debate about whether the commended student recognition would have made a difference for their child’s college application. She said — she’s not sure, but that does not matter. The problem was that the parents and children were not able to decide whether or not to include it on the application.