Arlington, VA

Not everybody is a fan of the five finalists for the new Arlington County logo.

“There seems to be a LOT of dissatisfaction with the new county logos,” one reader said, in an email to ARLnow.

Locals are being asked to weigh in on the proposed logo designs by May 26, ahead of County Board consideration in June. But a plurality seem to be calling for more choices.

In an unscientific ARLnow poll this week, about 46% of more than 3,000 respondents said the county should “go back to the drawing board.” The most popular choice — the fifth logo above, on the far right-hand side — was the preference of 24% of respondents.

The dissatisfaction is more stark on some social media channels.

“I’ve noticed that the five new Arlington County logos that residents have been asked to vote on are being universally panned on both Nextdoor and Facebook,” another ARLnow reader said in an email. “In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a single positive comment out of scores. My Nextdoor group in North Arlington had more than 25 comments and not a single one positive.”

“Sure hope the County is listening,” the reader added. “Time for them to go back to the drawing board.”

Perhaps it’s not necessary to solicit new designs. As pointed out by a local resident on Twitter, the original call for design ideas from the county yielded dozens of notable submissions that were ultimately rejected.

The new logo is needed in order to do away with the illustration of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s plantation house — a prominent Arlington landmark — in the current logo, but the call for logo ideas in February specifically asked submitters to “think about the images, symbols and feelings unique to Arlington and shared by people across neighborhoods.”

The finalists seem to be more abstract in nature than many of the discarded designs that include the shapes of specific landmarks, buildings or geographical borders, however.

Part of that may be a function of the requirement for a logo that works in numerous visual settings and contexts. The new logo should “look good” in black and white and in color, and when it is printed on something as small as a pen and as large as a billboard, the county said in February.

Asked this morning whether the five finalists may be revisited and other logos considered, given the reaction so far, Arlington County spokeswoman Jennifer K. Smith said only that the county is seeking more feedback.

“Engaging and involving the community is central to the process of developing a new logo — and that process is ongoing,” Smith told ARLnow. “We want as many people as possible to weigh in on the final design options. The Logo Review Panel will use the voting results to offer a recommendation to the Arlington County Board in June. To date, well over 9,000 people have voted on the new logo — and we’re looking for many more.”

Smith said a robust community process led to the five current logo finalists.

“A 14-member Logo Review Panel was appointed by the County Manager in late January of this year, following a communitywide call for applications,” she explained. “This is a diverse group representing different ages, ethnicities/races, neighborhoods, and backgrounds. Community members also were asked to submit their ideas and concepts over a series of week earlier this year — and we received about 250. Then, over the last several months, the Logo Review Panel has worked hard to further define the considerations as well as further develop the ideas submitted by the community, in collaboration with a design firm.”

The current county seal and logo — which both feature a representation of Lee’s Arlington House — were first adopted in 1983 and 2004, respectively.

The logo panel’s charge, from its first meeting: “Replace existing logo and County seal with new logo as soon as practicable.”

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Thursday night was not a typical Arlington School Board meeting.

A contentious public comment period, during which Board Chair Monique O’Grady called for order multiple times, preceded news that Arlington Public Schools has launched school-based COVID-19 testing and preschoolers will gain access to four days of in-person instruction.

Six times, O’Grady addressed violations of the comment period, which included clapping, direct appeals to school board members, and an unseen man shouting down a speaker. She even threatened to “take other measures” if people kept disrupting the proceedings.

“We do appreciate hearing from all families, whether you’re happy or not, but we ask you that when you come into our board room that you please respect our rules and one another,” she said later in the meeting, which was preceded by a rally pushing for schools to add more in-person learning days this spring.

Tensions came to a head last night among parents who are asking APS to open schools fully, school board members and administrators, and other parents and advocates who want the school system to retain a virtual option.

Last night, administrators announced some new developments.

APS is rolling out on-site COVID-19 testing, which could allow some students exposed to COVID-19 in class to return sooner, said Zachary Pope, the director of emergency planning for APS. This new approach will be tested in the summer and could be implemented this fall.

Additionally, Superintendent Francisco Durán said preschool students can be in-person four days a week starting Monday, May 3 due to the federal guidance shortening social distancing from six feet to three feet. Students in certain special education programs are the only ones currently in person four days a week.

But many parents want to see four-day schedules for all students, not just those enrolled in specialized programs. They call for APS to follow the lead of Fairfax County Public Schools.

In Northern Virginia, the superintendents of Arlington Public Schools and Alexandria City Public Schools are sticking with two days a week of in-person students for the remainder of the semester, while Fairfax and Loudoun County public schools have allowed some students to access in-person education four days a week.

A spokeswoman for FCPS tells ARLnow the first students to get four days of in-person learning were those in most need of it, who may or may not have been in-person before. After they returned on April 6, wherever additional spots remained, school personnel reached out to students attending school in person twice a week and gave them the option of four-day, in-person schedules, depending on the number of staff and the size of each classroom.

APS is taking a different approach, Durán said. Rather than expand schedules to four days of in-person school for a limited number of students, he decided to expand access to two days of in-person education. Over the last month, nearly 1,800 students who were virtual started attending school two days a week where space allows.

Last night, parents calling for fully in-person schedules picked up where they left off earlier this month, calling for more days as well as the resignation of APS leaders.

Standing with her daughter, Sheila Leonard pleaded with the school board to allow hands-on arts, music and physical education experiences on in-person school days, and to open schools fully.

“Since July, Gov. Ralph Northam and the American College of Pediatrics have prioritized [special-education, English-language learners and K-2 students] but not APS. When will you stand up for our neediest children?” she said.

Next, Brittany Kitchen wondered whom the school board members are protecting in avoiding a full return.

“It’s not for the kids. It’s not for the teachers — they’re vaccinated. Who is it for, then? You, so you can sleep at night knowing you didn’t make a decision, so if something goes wrong, it’s not on you?” Kitchen said. “That’s not leadership, it’s cowardice.”

People clapped. O’Grady instructed attendees to wave their hands silently. Two more parents’ speeches are met with applause and O’Grady reiterated the rules.

Next, Aaron Asimakopoulos called for the removal of school board members and administrators.

“Who among you can honestly say you have fought to get our children back in school?” he said. “Your departure from APS would have absolutely zero effect on the outcome of a student’s outcome, except to remove a barrier.”

After O’Grady rebuked him for addressing her specifically, he told other board members to “show some spine.”

Eventually, Latina advocates Gabriela Uro and former school board member Tannia Talento came forward. They said the immigrant and Latino families they work with are more cautious about school since they have experienced disproportionate rates of financial burden, sickness and death during the pandemic.

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(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) A recent Facebook post has hit a sore spot with some Arlington cyclists and mountain bikers. 

The Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation recently reiterated its policy on reserving natural surface “dirt” trails to walkers and hikers while allowing cyclists on paved trails.

The post drew the consternation of mountain bikers who have called on the county to let them use dirt trails for the past couple of years.

“I continue to be disappointed with the refusal of Arlington County Parks and Recreation to listen to the community and the County Board on this,” said one poster. “In both the Bicycle Element of the Master Transportation Plan and in the Public Open Spaces Master Plan, the Board said that Arlington would work towards opportunities for biking on natural surface trails. But 2 years later, DPR has been silent on the issue.” 

There are some indications that the department could consider providing natural trail options for cyclists in the future, however. The county has started developing a Forestry and Natural Resources Plan, which examines the impact of humans on Arlington’s natural resources, parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish said.

“As we develop the Forestry and Natural Resources Plan, the county will look into ways we can include mountain biking in Arlington parks,” she said.  

Currently, mountain bikers have to leave the county to ride any trails, said Matthew Levine, who founded Arlington Trails, a group that advocates for a system of managed, multi-use trails in the county. If they want to ride in Arlington, they forge informal trails, also known as “goat” or “social” trails. 

The reaction to the Facebook post, combined with the informal trails and Arlington Trails’ advocacy, all signify that “people want to use their bikes on trails in the county,” he tells ARLnow.

The real problem is that there is not a managed, multi-use natural trail system,” he said, pointing to Montgomery and Fairfax counties, which have miles of shared-use dirt paths. 

That these exploratory paths exist “reveals the need for more trails,” he said, adding that his group is willing to help design and maintain them. 

Not everyone is on board with the idea of mountain bike trails. Last spring, in response to concerns from the Bluemont Civic Association about unauthorized bike trails and jumps in Lacey Woods and Mary Carlin Woods, the parks department upped its enforcement and posted “no biking” signs. Similar complaints about rogue mountain bikers in other wooded areas of the county have been lodged on Nextdoor.

The county only maintains official trails in Arlington because of the negative impact the informal trails could have, Kalish said.

“In cases where damage is persistent, staff makes every effort to close, reclaim, and restore these areas to a natural state,” she said. “At the beginning of the pandemic, there was an increase in the development of social trails, including ones developed by mountain bikers who built ramps and cut down trees.” 

In the past, staff have stopped youth who were found carrying shovels and hoes, removing plants and realigning trails, she said. 

But Levine said it seems like cyclists are unfairly targeted as culprits of harming these natural areas — despite some studies concluding that if mountain bikers and hikers use trails at about the same rate, mountain bikers do not contribute more to environmental degradation.

Kalish indicated a path forward for mountain bikers on natural trails could come if a balance is struck between use and impact. Other, larger communities have done it, she said.  

“We understand that placing signs and closing social trails are only pieces of the puzzle for successfully managing our trail system; so we will be looking at holistic solutions as we develop the Forestry and Natural Resources Plan,” Kalish said. “We look forward to working with the public as we move forward.”  

But Levine is a little more cynical, describing past experiences when the group has been sidelined.  

“The message is to work with stakeholders in the issue, but we have been rebuffed by the Urban Forest Commission and political leadership,” he said. 

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Arlington County is moving forward with a project to restore Donaldson Run Tributary B despite some vocal public opposition.

On Tuesday, the County Board voted 4-1 to award a $1.5 million contract to restore a segment of the stream beginning at N. Upton Street and extending about 1,400 feet downstream to where it meets with Donaldson Run Tributary A in Zachary Taylor Park. Takis Karantonis cast the dissenting vote.

The vote came after a handful of locals criticized the proposed project for sacrificing trees, as well as allegedly misusing taxpayer dollars and ignoring changing scientific opinions.

With the vote, the county will use an approach similar to the one taken in 2006 to restore Donaldson Run Tributary A.

The project will address “critical infrastructure, public safety and environmental threats,” the county said. It “will stabilize the stream’s eroding banks to protect existing stream valley infrastructure, including the threatened water main and sanitary sewer, which crosses the stream and runs parallel to it.”

Staff said 83 trees will be axed as part of the project, which has been in the works since 2004.

Board Chair Matt de Ferranti told public speakers he agreed with many of their points but he is ultimately supporting what county staff recommended.

“We need to work on impervious cover and climate change but we also lost more than 20 trees since 2017 due to some of the washout that has come,” he said.

Critics weren’t convinced.

The restoration of Tributary A “failed miserably,” said Rod Simmons, who said he worked on the project and argued that it actually made flooding and runoff worse. Those recommending a different solution say theirs is cheaper, less intensive, and will save more trees.

“I am heart-sick at the devastation of the Donaldson Run ecosystem that will result from this project but I am even more distressed at the systemic discounting of the importance and integrated nature of the unique ecosystems in Arlington such as Donaldson Run,” said Mary Glass, a local resident. “For more than a decade, concerned citizens have provided valuable information on the adverse impact of this project and constructive alternatives to reach the same results…It’s a shame that despite all of this, no significant modification has occurred.”

Karantonis argued that the area needs restoration but 83 felled trees is too high a price.

“I don’t think we did everything we could to minimize impact,” he said.

But Jason Papacosma, the watershed programs manager for Arlington County, said the method suggested by the advocates is not applicable to the “very high-energy environment” of Donaldson Run.

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Six controversial Dr. Seuss titles will remain in circulation at Arlington Public Library, though they will not be replaced.

On Monday, Arlington Public Library made a statement similar to that of many libraries across the country, detailing how they are dealing with mid-20th century Dr. Seuss titles that depict “harmful stereotypes.” The library revealed that existing titles will stay on shelves.

This comes after Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which controls the rights to the works of Theodor Seuss Geisel, decided that it will cease publication and licensing of six titles because they portray people “in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

The decision was announced on “Read Across America Day,” which is also the author’s 117th birthday.

Arlington Public Library officials say they will keep these titles in their collection and in circulation “until they are no longer usable.” At that point, due to Dr. Seuss’ Enterprises’ decision to cease publication, they will not be replaced.

The titles are: “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”

Five of the titles were published between 1937 and 1955, while “The Cat’s Quizzer” was published in 1976.

According to the library’s online catalogue, each title has between five and eight English-language copies currently in circulation in the library system, plus several Spanish-language editions.

However, all of the English-language titles are currently checked out with a wait list upwards of 39 people.

The library system, in the release, does advise that if these books are being shared with young readers to “consider taking the opportunity to have a conversation about the themes, characterization and the time period a book was published. Then, balance these stories with other diverse titles.”

It’s not a new revelation that some of Dr. Seuss’ works have racist overtones. A number of his works have long been criticized for how they portray people of color.

The decision to cease publication by Dr. Seuss Enterprises has also led to rumors that the author’s books were being banned. Late last month, nearby Loudoun County had to deny such rumors that the county’s public schools were banning his books.

Full statement from Arlington Public Library is below.

Libraries across the country, Arlington Public Library among them, are having conversations about how to balance the core library value of intellectual freedom with the harmful stereotypes depicted in many of what are regarded as children’s classics.

Last week, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that it will cease publication and sales of six titles because they portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong: “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”

Existing copies of these titles in the Arlington Public Library collection will remain in circulation until they are no longer usable. As they are now out of print, these titles will not be replaced when they leave the collection.

In light of this news, it’s worth taking a look at the books of our childhood with a critical eye. We no longer live in the world Seuss lived in when he created these works. If you want to share classics and older titles with young readers, consider taking the opportunity to have a conversation about the themes, characterization and the time period a book was published. Then balance these stories with other diverse titles.

Diversity in publishing, especially in youth literature, has been a topic of conversation and concern in the industry for a number of years. Arlington Public Library intentionally curates its collections to ensure diversity of themes, characters and authors, and systematically reviews the collection for gaps. We invite you to discover new titles and authors through our booklists, catalog and collections.

Photo (top) via Flickr/ayoub.reem

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Acknowledging that “many residents are frustrated,” Arlington officials on Friday urged patience with the county’s vaccine distribution, while calling on the state for more doses.

The county has been facing scrutiny for what some see as a slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, despite receiving the first vaccine shipment before Christmas.

Earlier this week, vaccinations in Arlington were happening at a pace of just over 200 per day. At that rate, it would take more than two years just to give a single dose of the two-dose vaccine to every adult resident of the county.

Over the past two days the pace has quickened, with more than 400 doses administered each day. As of Friday morning, a total of 4,573 doses had been administered and 550 people in Arlington had been fully vaccinated.

Still, ARLnow has received a barrage of emails in recent days from people saying Arlington should be moving faster, given the more than 3,000 coronavirus deaths per day nationwide and the growing prevalence of a more contagious virus strain.

“The inability to ramp up to a more reasonable speed is terrible,” said one person. “People are dying.”

In a press release today, the county said it is “moving quickly to ramp up access for eligible Arlingtonians.”

“This weekend, the Arlington County Public Health Division will hold two clinics to vaccinate 1,800 individuals from the Childcare/PreK-12 Teachers/Staff priority group identified in Phase 1b,” the press release noted.

But even that effort is not without controversy.

As ARLnow first reported Thursday, the county-led registration process for Arlington Public Schools employees to sign up for vaccinations was botched, with many not receiving the emails and links required to register. Some of those that did manage to register and get a confirmation email the first time around were subsequently told that it was not actually a confirmation of an appointment.

“You received the WordPress confirmation due to an error in the technology that allowed more appointments to be booked than were available,” school employees were told this afternoon, in an email from Arlington’s public health division.

Some who received that initial confirmation were not able to secure a spot when registration reopened last night, we’re told.

“There were limited slots available,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia explained today. “Public Health sent an email last night to those staff who didn’t receive an appointment to schedule one of the remaining available slots. Those remaining slots were filled by this morning.”

Ryan Hudson, spokesman for Arlington public health, said the county is now waiting on more vaccine supply and cannot say for sure when the remainder of APS employees will be vaccinated.

“We can’t give a specific date when all APS teachers and staff will be vaccinated, as the ability to schedule appointments will depend on increased distribution of vaccine from Virginia,” he said.

“The expansion of people eligible under Phase 1b unfortunately does not increase Arlington’s limited supply of vaccine doses,” Hudson added. “The County began establishing its distribution plan and infrastructure in 2020. Arlington is prepared to expedite appointments as soon as the County receives additional doses from Virginia.”

County health director Dr. Reuben Varghese told the Arlington County Board earlier this week that the county was still working to establish infrastructure for mass vaccinations. Asked by ARLnow why that process did not start sooner, County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said much work was done leading up to the arrival of the first vaccine doses.

“Freezers were ordered, [a] website was developed and we already had a pre-existing relationship with Virginia Hospital Center,” he said today. “Many other infrastructure steps were taken, but demand [for the vaccine] so far exceeds supply. Other Northern Virginia jurisdictions and D.C. are also seeing similar challenges. We are working to get as much of the vaccine as soon as possible. We are asking for as much patience as folks can find.”

In this afternoon’s press release, de Ferranti defended the efforts of Varghese and County Manager Mark Schwartz.

“As the situation continues to change rapidly, our County Manager and Public Health Director are working flat-out to secure vaccines and to get them into arms,” he said. “The Board has assured them that we will provide whatever resources are needed to get this done.”

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New video and audio is shedding additional light on the controversial encounter between Arlington police officers and a Black photographer in the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood.

Bodycam footage of the Dec. 21 encounter and audio of a neighbor’s call to police, which prompted the incident, were released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Arlington branch of the NAACP. The media was shared tonight with ARLnow.

During the call, an unidentified female neighbor tells police that the photographer, who was at the time sitting in his parked BMW, was taking photos of the gate to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, as well as “neighbors and people that are walking by.”

“We confronted him and he just wouldn’t engage… he’s just sitting there taking pictures,” the caller says. “I’m not sure if that’s illegal but it’s kind of creepy.”

The caller later reports that the photographer was “smiling and walking down the street, taking more pictures,” and then “engaging with a lady,” adding that “they apparently know each other.” She also noted that he had a “camera with a large lens.”

The man in question was Marlon Crutchfield, a professional photographer who’s retired from the military. He was hired by a family on the block to take holiday photos.

In a Dec. 23 Facebook post, Crutchfield said he was confronted by a neighbor — apparently the caller’s husband — but declined to answer his questions.

“Over the years I’ve had several run-ins with nosy neighbors concerned that a Black man was parked in their neighborhood,” he wrote. ” Well… the other day I was in Arlington parked waiting for an appointment when a man came over and asked me if I needed any help, of course I didn’t. I informed the gentleman that I didn’t need any assistance. Honestly — I was offended. Every Black person knows what this means.”

“After the gentleman didn’t get the response he expected, he reached out to a few other neighbors one of them called the police,” Crutchfield wrote.

Bodycam footage released by the Arlington County Police Department shows three ACPD officers and three military police officers responding to the scene after the call. One Arlington officer knocks on the door of the house in which Crutchfield was shooting photos and asks to speak with him.

(Arlington police had just implemented body-worn cameras the week before the encounter.)

During the four-minute encounter, Crutchfield insists that, contrary to what the “very nosy neighbor” told police, he was just holding his camera and wasn’t taking photos of the base. He briefly flashes the officer an ID card — implied to be a military ID card, but edited out of the video — and says he knows better than taking photos of the military base.

“I’m offended,” Crutchfield says to the officer. “I’m at work… you’re interrupting my job.”

The officer asks the photographer, who is still holding his camera, to present identification.

“This is very racist, and you should know better,” Crutchfield says in response, refusing the request. Eventually, the homeowner also begins talking to officers, saying that “he’s with me” and agreeing that the call to police was “racist.”

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(Updated at 11 a.m.) The Arlington County Police Department says the officers who questioned a Black man for taking photos in the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood acted properly and professionally.

The Dec. 21 incident, which sparked headlines and a strong condemnation from the Arlington branch of the NAACP, happened after police were called to the neighborhood by someone who found real estate photographer Marlon Crutchfield to be suspicious.

In a Facebook post, Crutchfield said he was confronted by “nosy neighbors,” who then called police when he declined to explain why he was taking photos. Several officers arrived and, in a brief interaction that was video recorded, Crutchfield refuses the officers’ request to hand over an ID. Shortly after that, the officers appear to leave.

In response to a series of questions posed by ARLnow, a police department spokeswoman explained the series of events leading to the encounter, and defended the officers’ actions and the need to respond the call, which was placed by someone only identified as “a community member.”

“At approximately 10:35 a.m. on December 21, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person and vehicle in the area of Southgate Road and South Orme Street,” ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark said. “The reporting party advised dispatch that the male subject had been taking photos of the Southgate entrance to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, and people walking provided additional information that the subject had left the area of the entrance and entered a nearby residence.”

The website OpenMHz captured audio of the initial police dispatch.

Clark said the response was justified based on the information provided to police.

Military installations are considered high value targets and events around the world, to include the events of September 11, 2001, have shown this to be true. If someone is taking photos of these areas, it is certainly cause for concern, and is worthy of reporting to law enforcement for investigation based upon guidelines published by the United States Department of Homeland Security. The area by the base is posted with signs prohibiting photography and, for this reason, the base was notified of the report the department had received.

The Department has a responsibility to respond to calls for service, investigate the circumstances, and determine appropriate action. Dispatched calls for service are based upon preliminary information provided by the reporting party and follow-up investigations may identify additional, or different, information than initially provided.

We recognize the emotional impact this incident has had on the involved individual The Department is committed to the principle that all individuals will be treated with dignity and respect and we will work with the community to achieve balance between ensuring the safety of our community and the ambiguity involving what may be considered suspicious.

Asked if officers should have done anything differently, ACPD defended their actions and professionalism.

The Department stands by its response to this incident. In order to ensure public safety within our community, officers have a duty to respond to dispatched calls for service and fully investigate the circumstances surrounding them. Efforts to address crime in our community are most effective when they involve strong collaboration and partnerships between law enforcement and the communities and citizens they serve.

While the behaviors described to ACPD were considered suspicious in nature given all of the circumstances, it was determined that no local crime had been committed, officers cleared the call without taking further action, and the entire interaction with the individual lasted under four minutes.

We appreciate that what constitutes suspicious behavior can be ambiguous, but we must work together to ensure police are notified of suspicious behaviors that could represent a threat to our community, while at the same time ensuring that the focus remains on the behaviors of a person and nothing else. […]

Our officers conducted themselves in a professional manner and came to the determination that no local crimes had occurred.

The Arlington NAACP, however, said in response that the police department should have investigated the origin of the initial complaint, which they claim was embellished in order to provoke a police response.

“ACPD should have started with the alleged witnesses before harassing a professional photographer and embarrassing him by pulling him out of the home where he was an invited guest and interrogating him in front of his client,” the organization said to ARLnow, in a statement.

“The police asked for the victim’s ID before even explaining why they were there or even asking him if he was near the base or what his activities were before entering the clients home,” the organization said. “That is sloppy police work guaranteed to elicit an emotionally charged response. Asking for ID first and only is a racially laden request in the Black community.”

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Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey says she has confidence in her Board colleague Christian Dorsey, despite his continued legal and financial troubles.

As first reported by the Washington Post, Dorsey’s long-running personal bankruptcy case was dismissed by a federal judge last week after Dorsey overstated his debt obligations in “an act of overt misrepresentation,” according to the bankruptcy trustee.

Dorsey told the Post that he “vigorously disputes” the allegation that he deliberately and fraudulently misrepresented his finances.

It’s not the first time that money issues have landed Dorsey in hot water. He failed to disclose a $10,000 political donation from a transit union, leading to his resignation from the WMATA board earlier this year. He promised to return the donation but initially failed to do so, at one point claiming that a check was lost in the mail, before finally delivering a cashier’s check in person to the union this summer.

Despite all the issues, Garvey said in a statement to ARLnow that Dorsey has her confidence.

“Throughout this most challenging year, Mr. Dorsey’s work and support have been extremely valuable as the Board and Arlington have navigated multiple challenges and crises,” Garvey said. “Because of my experience with Mr Dorsey this year and over past years, I am confident, despite his personal financial issues, that Mr. Dorsey has provided and continues to provide important service to the people of Arlington.”

“While I do not believe his personal financial issues affect his standing on the Board, the question for us all is how this affects Mr. Dorsey’s standing among the people we serve,” Garvey continued. “All our work is affected by perceptions among those we serve and with whom we work. At this time, I do not know how those perceptions will develop after this latest publicity nor how they will balance out with the very real benefit Mr. Dorsey provides to the Board and Arlington.”

ARLnow asked Dorsey whether he intends to continue serving his term on the Board, which runs through the end of 2023. Through a county spokeswoman, Dorsey said he “has nothing to add at this time beyond his quotes to the Post.”

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(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) A fill-in-the-blank question during a science class at H-B Woodlawn has caused an uproar.

The chemistry question, asked Tuesday during what ARLnow is told was a 10th grade class, references the police killing of George Floyd.

“George Floyd couldn’t breathe because a police officer put his _____ George’s neck,” the question reads. The answer is “neon,” the element that sounds like “knee on.”

Classes are currently being held virtually at Arlington public schools. Shortly after the class, a screenshot of the question started circulating on social media, and parents started calling the school.

“There is no diversity in my school and apparently there was a bunch of white silence when this happened this morning,” a student’s social media post said. “White students were making excuses or seemed ‘too tired to talk about it’ shame on those people that’s disgusting.”

The teacher “tried to pass it off as something ‘everyone would know/easy to get,'” the post adds.

H-B Woodlawn’s student body is 4.4% Black, according to civil rights statistics published by Arlington Public Schools. That’s well under the 11% average across all APS high schools.

In a letter to families sent Wednesday, H-B’s principal said the secondary program — once known as “Hippie High” for its liberal approach to education — “does not tolerate any form of cultural or racial insensitivity.”

“We will be meeting directly with the students in the class, and will work with all of our H-B Woodlawn students to process the incident,” the letter goes on to say. “Our Student Services Team will be available for individual counseling and students can reach out directly to me as well.”

On Thursday, Superintendent Francisco Durán weighed in, with an email sent to all APS families.

“The content referenced the killing of George Floyd in an unacceptable and senseless way, which hurt and alarmed our students, staff, families, and the community,” Durán wrote. ‘The reference showed extremely poor judgement and a blatant disregard for African American lives.”

“The teacher has been relieved of classroom duties while an investigation related to this matter takes place,” Durán continued. “I want to assure everyone that this situation will be handled in accordance with our policies, and all staff are held to the highest standards of professional behavior.”

The principal’s letter, obtained by ARLnow, is below.

The H-B Woodlawn community does not tolerate any form of cultural or racial insensitivity. We prioritize making H-B Woodlawn a safe and inclusive space for all students, staff, and parents. Yesterday an incident occurred that conflicts with our core values of respect, trust, social justice, and diversity.

During a class presentation a teacher shared an example that showed significant racial insensitivity. It was unacceptable. We will be meeting directly with the students in the class, and will work with all of our H-B Woodlawn students to process the incident. We will use all of the HBW and APS resources at our disposal to do so. Students should reach out to a trusted adult at HBW if they want to discuss this matter further. Our Student Services Team will be available for individual counseling (emails below) and students can reach out directly to me as well.

Though this is an ongoing matter, and we cannot provide additional details, we appreciate all the students, parents, and alumni who have reached out — for their concern, and their thoughts and ideas on productively moving forward. We will continue to update the community on the steps we are taking both in the short-term and long-term. Every student deserves a positive educational experience where they feel safe, secure, and have a strong sense of belonging.

Casey Robinson

Principal

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Arlington Public Schools will proceed with all but two winter sports, with some modifications, after talks with staff and neighboring school systems.

Swimming and diving, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, rifle and dance will proceed, but not wrestling — given the close contact that wrestlers engage in — or winter cheer, since competitive cheer can be offered outside later in the year, Superintendent Francisco Durán said in an email to families.

The decision comes after public outcry over the weekend to APS’s decision not to participate, which was announced on Thursday. People pointed to other school systems, which are allowing students to participate in winter sports.

“I have received many emails from students and families regarding my decision not to participate in Season 1 Winter athletic competition, due to current health metrics and safety concerns related to indoor sports,” Durán said.

The decision was discussed in the School Board meeting on Thursday, during which a few parents and School Board Member Tannia Talento asked him to reconsider.

Durán said he decided not to allow APS to participate in sports because it would not align with the return-to-school plan, which has been put on pause until 2021.

But with new modifications, such as a ban on in-person spectators and limited to no use of locker rooms, Durán said winter sports can move forward.

“We are exploring opportunities to livestream some competitions for spectators and will share information once arrangements have been made,” he said.

If community health conditions worsen, APS may modify or suspend athletics activities in consultation with health experts, he said.

“We will continue to monitor health metrics and work with school athletic staff and other school divisions to protect our athletes, coaches, employees, and families,” Durán said.

Tiffany McAvoy, the author of a petition to reverse APS’s decision, urged those who signed to email Durán and the School Board over the weekend.

“We want to fill up their inboxes so we can’t be ignored,” she wrote in her update to the Change.org petition.

In the first day after she created the petition, more than 1,800 people signed, she said in her update. Since then, the total has grown to 2,100 people as of Tuesday afternoon.

Student athletes and families will receive additional guidance closer to the start of the season, which begins Dec. 7.

“Our plans are evolving with the current conditions, and we will be flexible and responsive to the needs of our students whenever possible, assessing all options to safely support our students’ academic successes, mental health, and social-emotional well-being,” Durán said.

The Virginia High School League, a statewide sports league comprising public and private high schools, approved a Championship + 1 schedule in September that would allow students to play 60% of their sport’s regular season schedule, starting in December, with modified regional and state championships.

On Oct. 29, Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order that allows the proposed VHSL schedule to begin in December as scheduled. In a statement published by VHSL, Northam said the league been a partner during the pandemic and has drafted thoughtful guidelines for reinstating sports.

File photo

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