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by Ethan Rothstein — August 18, 2014 at 10:30 am 2,064 0

School board member Sally Baird at the Civic Federation candidates forumSchool Board member Sally Baird has resigned, effective Aug. 22, after previously announcing she wouldn’t seek re-election.

Baird is the second School Board member to resign this summer, following Noah Simon’s resignation on Aug. 1. That leaves the School Board with just three members: Chair James Lander, Vice Chair Emma Violand-Sanchez and Abby Raphael.

There will be no special election to replace Baird, since the election to fill her seat is already on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. Barbara Kanninen and Audrey Clement are running to fill her seat, while Nancy Van Doren is running unopposed to fill Simon’s seat.

“Commitments in both my personal and professional life have put increasing pressure on my time since the beginning of 2014,” Baird said in a press release announcing her decision. “I have worked to balance these commitments, trying to ensure that I dedicate the amount of time to my School Board duties which I truly believe a member must commit in order to perform this role effectively. This is the manner which our Arlington voters are fair to expect. But the time has come that I can no longer do that without great cost to my family.”

Baird was originally elected in 2006 and won re-election in 2010. She has two sons, who are students at Drew Model School and Gunston Middle School, according to her Arlington Public Schools bio.

Lander has yet to decide whether an appointment will be made to bring the Board back up to four members. If he does, APS said it’s possible that Van Doren will be chosen as appointee, since she is the only candidate to have filed.

“We have received Ms. Baird’s resignation with sincere regret,” Lander said in the release. “All of us on the School Board are thankful and appreciative of Sally’s eight years of leadership and dedication as a Board member. She has worked diligently to ensure that Arlington Public Schools provides high quality educational opportunities for all of our students. On behalf of all of the School Board members, I want to thank her for her dedication and service and we wish her well in all of her future endeavors.”

“To ensure that decisions by the Arlington School Board continue to be representative of the community,” Lander continued, “our goal is to see that those decisions made by the Board during this period of transition reflect support by at least three members of the five-member body.”

by ARLnow.com — July 1, 2014 at 10:45 am 4,381 0

School Board member Noah Simon is sworn in in 2013 (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) Noah Simon is resigning from the Arlington School Board.

Simon announced his resignation, effective Aug. 1, at this morning’s school board meeting. He said he was resigning to spend more time with his two children, following the death of his wife, Kedron, on Dec. 30.

“Simply put, I’m doing this because the board work has made me a part-time father,” a visibly sad Simon said in a statement at the end of the meeting. “The last 6 months have been particularly difficult. I’m a broken man emotionally and physically.”

Simon said he hopes the timing of his resignation will allow the special election to replace him to take place on the same day as the general election this fall, thus saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Simon was elected to the school board in 2012 as a Democrat-endorsed candidate, and is serving a term that was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2016.

“I feel badly that I cannot fulfill my entire commitment to those voters,” he said. “I want to thank the Arlington parents and the Arlington community at large for teaching me as much as I can learn about Arlington. This is not a decision I wanted to make. It’s a decision I needed to make.”

A former Capitol Hill staffer, Simon has a son and daughter who attend Arlington Science Focus School, according to his official APS bio.

In May, Simon decried the state of civil discourse on school issues in Arlington, after parents upset at a budget proposal said that school board members “don’t care about children with special needs.”

The Jamestown Elementary School PTA issued the following statement about Simon’s resignation:

Noah Simon has been an exceptional public servant. He has listened and he has led. He has learned and taught, We have been very fortunate to have his time and ideas and tremendous devotion to all our children while he served on the School Board. He has helped make Arlington schools better today, and set good things in motion for the future. We will miss him greatly.

Nancy Van Doren, who was unsuccessful in her attempt to win the Democratic endorsement this spring to replace retiring school board member Sally Baird, hailed Simon’s service and announced that she will seek his seat.

“Noah is a well-respected, well-loved member of the School Board and Arlington community. He has set a very high mark for effective, thoughtful, and compassionate service on behalf of Arlington’s children, families, and educators,” Van Doren said in a press release.

“It is a critical time in our community as we work to manage our growing school system,” she continued. “I am prepared to meet the challenges facing our schools and therefore am announcing today that I will seek election to the seat that Noah is leaving.”

Greg Greeley, who ran against Van Doren this spring and also lost to now-Democratic endorsee Barbara Kanninen, released a statement Tuesday afternoon thanking Simon for his service and supporting Van Doren’s bid to replace him.

“Nancy has my wholehearted support and endorsement,” Greeley said.

Earlier in this morning’s meeting, James Lander was elected chair of the school board from 2014-2015 and Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez was elected vice chair.

“On behalf of the entire School Board, we want to thank Noah for his tireless and exceptional commitment to the school community, especially in the midst of the grief he and his family have experienced during the past few months,” Lander said following Simon’s announcement. “We understand and support his difficult decision to resign, and were fortunate to have such a passionate and committed colleague on this Board during the time he served.”

Also at the meeting, Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s contract was renewed for four years, in a 4-1 vote. The contract renewal was not on the board’s published agenda.

Photo via Facebook

by ARLnow.com — March 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm 12,023 0

Former Drew Elementary principal Jacqueline Smith (photo via APS)Drew Model Elementary School principal Jacqueline Smith resigned earlier this month, just days after being arrested for driving under the influence.

Smith, a 53-year-old Arlington resident, was arrested on the 1100 block of S. Rolfe Street, in the Arlington View neighborhood, around 3:30 a.m. on Friday, March 7. Smith was observed by an officer stopping at a green light, weaving in and out of lanes and almost striking a parked car, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The officer pulled Smith over and she subsequently failed a field sobriety test, Sternbeck said. Smith was arrested and taken to the Arlington County Detention Center. Four days after the arrest, Drew Elementary parents were notified that Smith was “retiring.”

“We wanted to let you know that Jackie Smith, Principal of Drew, has informed us that she plans to retire from her position with the Arlington Public Schools for personal reasons,” wrote Arlington Public Schools superintendent Patrick Murphy. “She will be on leave the remainder of this week, and will retire effective March 17. We wish her the best in the future.”

“I have been grateful for my 21 years in Arlington as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal,” Smith said in the letter. “The support I have received through the years from Dr. Murphy, APS administrators, the School Board, and the many dedicated teachers and educational leaders throughout the county has been greatly appreciated. I want to express my best wishes to the Drew Model School staff, students, and community, and I hope for their continued success as they work to provide excellent learning opportunities for our children.”

Asked by ARLnow.com if Smith had been fired, APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos said “that statement is not accurate.” Theresa Bratt, who retired from APS last year, is now serving as interim principal at the school.

Smith’s next court appearance is scheduled for May 19. Court documents indicate that, if convicted, this would be her first DUI.

Photo via APS

by Ethan Rothstein — February 11, 2014 at 10:45 am 1,691 0

Chris Zimmerman announces his retirementArlington County Board member Chris Zimmerman has officially resigned from his seat, effective at 5:00 p.m. yesterday (Monday).

Zimmerman handed in his letter of resignation in advance on Jan. 1, according to County Board Clerk Hope Halleck. At the County Board’s meeting two weeks ago, Zimmerman was the last to speak and gave a 10-minute farewell address (beginning at the 3:16:31 mark).

The main theme of Zimmerman’s speech was striking a balance between listening and leadership:

It is expected that the citizenry will be actively engaged throughout the decision-making process. That is the meaning of the Arlington Way. A board member must always be seeking input from the people of this community. That advice and counsel is no less important than the recommendations of the manager and the professional staff, which must also be carefully understood and taken into account. This is the listening part.

But listening does not mean taking a poll. It does not mean reacting to every stream of controversy fomented on listservs, in emails and on blogs before coming to a decision. In the end, each board member has to make a judgment about what is best for the community.

Leadership is the unflinching exercise of that judgment without regard to momentary swings in popularity. I believe that the great success Arlington has had is the result of the combination of leaders who actively engage the people; listen closely to what they’re saying; and then chart a path that they, in their best judgment, believe is most likely to result in the ultimate happiness of the community; and the willingness of the people in this community to let them do so.

The Board will now operate with four members until a special election is held to fill Zimmerman’s seat, which is expected to be held April 8. Running for his seat are Democrat Alan Howze, who won the party’s primary last weekend, Republican-endorsed independent John Vihstadt, Libertarian Evan Bernick, Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy and independent Stephen Holbrook.

Zimmerman announced he was resigning the day after Election Day last fall. His last Board meeting was 18 years to the week after his first. He will now join Smart Growth America as vice president of economic development.

“I will bring all of the lessons I have learned to the effort to help other communities across this country succeed in building a more sustainable, prosperous and more equitable future,” he said to conclude his speech, “and I will continue to be a proud Arlingtonian.”

by ARLnow.com — February 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm 3,500 28 Comments

Katy Prebble (photo via Bishop O'Connell High School)Bishop O’Connell High School President Katy Prebble has announced that she will resign at the end of the school year, after three years on the job.

Parents and students at the private Catholic institution, in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood, were informed of the resignation this afternoon. Prebble is leaving to take another job outside of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, diocese spokesman Michael Donohue told ARLnow.com.

Student comments about Bishop O'Connell President Katy Prebble's resignation (via Twitter)Prebble, a 1974 Catholic University graduate, joined O’Connell in 2010 after serving as president of a college preparatory school in Georgia. Barry Breen, O’Connell’s president before Prebble, resigned after five years.

The diocese says it will begin a search for a new president “soon,” although a final decision has not yet been made about whether to keep the current leadership structure of the school, which includes both a president and a school principal.

On Twitter, Bishop O’Connell students seemed pleased with Prebble’s resignation. One called it “a graduation present to the Class of 2013.”

Another said the resignation was “better late than never,” while referencing a controversial decision last year to fire John Harrison, a beloved social studies teacher.

Prebble sent the following letter to parents at 3:15 p.m. today (Monday).

Dear Bishop O’Connell Community,

I write to you today to inform you that I will be leaving Bishop O’Connell in June 2013. It has been my distinct privilege to serve as the school’s president since July 2010. The 1,200 students who grace the halls of our school every day are a remarkable and diverse group of young men and women eager to establish themselves as the leaders of tomorrow. I will miss them dearly as well as the dedicated faculty and staff who work incredibly hard to guide them through these wonderful and exciting high school years.

With the completion of the renovation of our athletic fields and two new chemistry labs, as well as the plans to complete several more labs this summer, Bishop O’Connell is strategically positioned to offer a first class facility for students for years to come.

I am enthusiastic about our work with our new Strategic Plan and our initial efforts to create a Facility Master Site Plan. The next few months will be busy as we work diligently to strengthen our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program and plan the addition of our second engineering course. Our STEM curriculum continues to grow, and O’Connell is set to become one of only two private high schools in the greater Washington DC area to offer a Project Lead the Way school curriculum in engineering.

I have been inspired by O’Connell’s spirit and traditions and am a better person for being guided by the IHM Sisters. Many of you may know that years ago Mother Teresa visited O’Connell and spoke to our students. Her message of love and compassion continues to fill the heart of our community. I will faithfully serve our community over the next few months and wish only the best for O’Connell. It is always a great day to be a Knight.

Faithfully yours,

Katy Prebble

In a letter, Diocese of Arlington Superintendent of Schools Sister Bernadette McManigal said Prebble “has served the school, the Diocese and Catholic Education well.”

A long list of accomplishments are directly attributable to Katy’s leadership. The most visible examples include remodeled science labs, the addition of a global studies program, attractive and safe athletic fields, dual enrollment courses with Marymount, new seats in the school auditorium and the addition of pre-engineering courses in the curriculum. An impressive list! Katy was tireless in her zeal for the students and faculty at Bishop O’Connell High School.

Bishop Paul S. Loverde joins me in thanking Katy for her service and in wishing her well in her next endeavors. We will miss her.

by ARLnow.com — October 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm 12,777 144 Comments

Update on 10/25/12 — Police have opened a criminal investigation into the video.

Patrick Moran, the son of 11-term incumbent Rep. Jim Moran (D), has resigned from his father’s campaign following the release of a video (above) that purports to show him going along with a scheme to commit voter fraud.

In the video, Moran, who worked as the campaign’s field director, is approached in a Courthouse eatery by an undercover videographer who discusses an idea for trying to fraudulently vote on behalf of 100 people on the voter rolls. The video then shows Moran seemingly suggesting that the man behind the camera forge utility bills to get around Virginia’s voter ID laws.

In a brief statement, the Moran campaign said Patrick Moran had resigned from the campaign.

“Patrick is well liked and was a well-respected member of the campaign team,” the campaign said. “This incident, however, was clearly an error in judgment.  The campaign has accepted Patrick’s resignation, effective immediately.”

The video was released by Project Veritas, a nonprofit investigative group founded by conservative activist James O’Keefe, of ACORN video fame. Project Veritas’ stated mission is to “investigate and expose corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions in order to achieve a more ethical and transparent society.”

The campaign of Patrick Murray, Moran’s Republican challenger in the Nov. 6 general election, issued a statement expressing “concern” about the Moran campaign’s activities.

After seeing this video on several news sites, I am very concerned about the campaign activities of my opponent. While it is not clear whether or not there was any wrongdoing, I hope that local, state and federal election officials will look into this matter immediately.

The integrity of our nation is at stake, and it appears that my opponent’s campaign seems prepared to undermine free and fair elections right here in Virginia.

Sadly, anyone who is familiar with Jim Moran will not be surprised by this. The truth is that Moran has a long track record of hyper partisan behavior, racially charged comments and an infamous anger management problem. So this is more of the same embarrassing behavior that we’ve come to expect from Jim Moran and his campaign.

In a statement issued to the Democratic blog Blue Virginia, the Arlington County Democratic Committee said it has asked Patrick Moran to not return to the party’s office in Courthouse. Part of the undercover video was filmed in the office.

Arlington Democrats condemn any form of voter fraud. Any allegations that such conduct has been condoned – especially in Arlington – is something we take very seriously. We are concerned by the apparent remarks of Pat Moran in the hidden-camera video arranged by Mr. O’Keefe. While we do yet not know Pat Moran’s response to the video and Mr. O’Keefe’s allegations, we understand that Pat Moran has resigned from the Moran campaign, and we have asked him not to return to our offices. The Arlington Democrats are committed to making sure that all voters have a full and fair ability to cast their votes in accordance with applicable laws, and that commitment will not change.

The Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans, meanwhile, denounced what it termed “attempted Democrat campaign voter fraud.”

“This is an outrageous blow to the integrity of our electoral process,” said Matthew Burrow, Chairman of the organization. “Patrick Moran should have immediately denounced and reported any attempt to subvert the election process. Instead, he encouraged and even advised this individual on how to illegally cast ballots for other people. This level of corruption cannot stand.”

The release of the video comes on the heels of Moran — along with two other Virginia Democratic congressmen — publicly calling for an investigation into allegations of Republican voter fraud in Harrisonburg, Va. Moran repeated his call for investigations into voter fraud in a column published by the Falls Church News-Press this evening.

Update at 11:15 p.m. — Patrick Moran has issued a statement:

In reference to the “O’Keefe” video, at no point have I, or will I ever endorse any sort of illegal or unethical behavior. At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him.

In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior: joking or not.

In regards to my position on the campaign, I have stepped down because I do not want to be a distraction during this year’s critical election.

Meanwhile, Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary under former president George W. Bush, is weighing in on the controversy. Fleischer said the Moran video might strengthen the case for laws requiring photo identification to vote.

“From now on, any law requiring photo ID to vote should be know as the Moran Act,” he said via Twitter.

Update at 11:55 p.m. — Independent candidate for Congress Jason Howell has also released a statement.

From the very beginning, our campaign has been about giving my neighbors the opportunity to vote for someone rather than merely against Jim Moran. I was saddened watching video of the apparent sting operation on Patrick. The Moran campaign may now have many distracting, legal and ethical questions to answer. Our campaign is about my generation taking responsibility for the systemic political and economic challenges we face as a country. We must do better. If you elect me on November 6th, a business owner, community volunteer, former accountant and jobs recruiter, we will do better.

by Katie Pyzyk — June 21, 2012 at 11:10 am 3,630 73 Comments

Del. David Englin, a Democrat who represents the part of southeast Arlington included in the 45th District, has submitted his resignation from the Virginia House of Delegates.

In April, Englin announced he would not seek reelection in 2013, after admitting to marital infidelity. At that time, he said he would take time off to work on rebuilding his marriage.

Englin’s resignation is effective as of August 31. Englin further explained his decision in a statement on his website. The following is an excerpt from that statement, including an endorsement for a successor:

In April, I announced that I would not seek another term in elected office in order to focus on rebuilding my marriage and my family. That remains my highest priority, and I have concluded that the time has come for my family and me to leave public life. Therefore, earlier today, I submitted to the House Clerk, the Speaker, and Governor McDonnell my resignation from the House of Delegates, effective August 31. To ensure the best possible stewardship of taxpayer resources, I also conveyed my hope that Governor McDonnell will schedule the special election to coincide with the general election on November 6.

Serving the people of the 45th District has been one of the great honors of my life. Shayna and I are so incredibly grateful to the many people who have supported and been a part of our political efforts over the years. We will never forget all of those Team Englin volunteers who knocked on doors or filled our home for hours on end, fighting to move Virginia forward, and we are proud of what so many of us working together were able to accomplish.

Because we have lived such a public life these past several years and invited people so freely into our home and our family, a great many people have been curious for details about our relationship, our family, and our future. While we understand the interest, we hope others understand and respect that leaving public life means living life more privately. We do appreciate the kindness and support of so many well wishers, and we want people to know that this is a glad occasion for our family, as we look forward to a happy life as private citizens.

With today’s announcement, Democrats in the 45th District will have just a few weeks to nominate my successor. As one of the most progressive communities in the Commonwealth, the 45th District should be represented by somebody who is willing to stand up without fear to the anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-immigrant extremist social agenda being foisted by House Republicans. That representative must not hesitate to voice the progressive ideals of the district in all matters before the House. Any candidate who enters this race as a stepping stone to statewide office will be too concerned with how his votes, positions, and agenda will play with future voters elsewhere who don’t share our community’s progressive values. The people of the 45th District deserve a Delegate who is totally devoted to fighting for what’s right and not distracted by future political ambitions. Karen Gautney will be that Delegate, and she has my endorsement and my unqualified support.

Gautney is expected to face Alexandria Councilman Rob Krupicka and Arlington School Board member James Lander in a special election at some point between now and Nov. 6.

by ARLnow.com — February 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm 4,203 49 Comments

Arlington Public Schools superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy is responding to a lengthy resignation letter sent to Williamsburg Middle School parents by the school’s principal. The letter, first reported by ARLnow.com, accused Dr. Murphy of harassment and discrimination.

Dr. Murphy’s letter to parents toned back some of the language used by the school system last night, when officials described the letter as “regrettable,” “unfortunate” and “very angry” in a statement to the Washington Post.

“We will continue to respond with a high level of professionalism and cannot discuss Ms. Francis’s actions now or in the future,” Dr. Murphy wrote. “However, we deny that there has been any discrimination.”

APS School Talk – A Letter to the Williamsburg Community

February 2, 2011

Dear Williamsburg Parents:

By now we know that you have heard that Ms. Francis has chosen to resign her position as principal at Williamsburg Middle School. I want to assure you that the students, parents, staff and community have been and will remain my first priority during this period of transition.

While I understand that many parents may have questions, it has always been the practice of the Arlington Public Schools that we do not publicly discuss Personnel issues. Therefore, we will continue to respond with a high level of professionalism and cannot discuss Ms. Francis’s actions now or in the future. However, we deny that there has been any discrimination.

At this time, we are exercising our responsibility to make sure that we provide the best educational learning environment for your student. Our primary focus is to take appropriate and immediate steps to put a highly qualified team of administrative leaders in place at the school to ensure that we provide the best instructional support and leadership for our students, their families and the school staff.

Please know that the students at Williamsburg and their well-being will remain our primary focus as we work to ensure that they receive a high quality education in a positive learning environment.

As this process evolves, we will involve the Williamsburg community and keep you apprised of our deliberations and decisions.

Sincerely,

Patrick K. Murphy, Ed.D.

Superintendent

by ARLnow.com — February 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm 6,386 318 Comments

(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) Williamsburg Middle School Principal Kathleen Francis says she will be resigning in March due to “the untenable and hostile work environment created by Superintendent [Patrick] Murphy.”

In a lengthy email to parents, Francis detailed what she describes as a “long struggle” to resolve a personnel matter with Dr. Murphy. Francis said her efforts, which allegedly upset Dr. Murphy, resulted in “an ongoing series of actions to harass me and mischaracterize my performance and professional reputation.”

Francis defended her record and said she went so far as to file a discrimination complaint.

“The continuing misconduct reached such a level that I was forced to file formal age and gender discrimination complaints,” she said. “In apparent retaliation for my filing these actions, the Superintendent confirmed his threat to place me on a formal Performance Improvement Plan.”

Francis concluded by insisting that she’s not alone in her displeasure with Dr. Murphy’s leadership.

“My situation with the new Superintendent is not an isolated incident,” she wrote. “It is merely representative of a larger problem in the Arlington Public Schools.”

Dr. Murphy was appointed superintendent of Arlington Public Schools in April 2009. We are awaiting comment from the school system.

See the full letter after the jump.

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