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Morning Notes

Pentagon City Plan Passes Unanimously — “The Arlington County Board adopted a new vision for a vibrant and livable Pentagon City, following an 18-month planning process. The Board voted 5-0 to approve the Pentagon City Sector Plan (PCSP) and its associated Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance amendments.” More than 110 people spoke at the Board’s meeting on Saturday, many of them opposed to a portion of the plan that would allow a significant increase in density on the RiverHouse property. [Arlington County]

Second HQ2 Phase Advancing — “PenPlace, the 3.2 million-square-foot second phase of Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, has earned the key support of Arlington County staff as it heads into its final stretch of reviews. During the last Site Plan Review Committee meeting Thursday, Peter Schulz, a staffer with the Arlington planning division, said ‘staff has no major outstanding issues’ with regard to PenPlace’s architecture and landscape design.” [Washington Business Journal]

Chipotle Lists Clarendon Location on Website — Despite denying plans to open a Clarendon location, Chipotle has now listed the soon-to-open location at 3017 Clarendon Blvd on its website. [Chipotle]

Cookie Purveyor Coming to Courthouse — “Captain Cookie & The Milkman is opening across the river for the first time as a part of the local treat-yourself brand’s ongoing regional expansion. The shop should open at 2200 Clarendon Blvd. in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood this spring. The space was most recently a GNC. “It’s just a calcium supplement store now,” co-owner Kirk Francis jokes. The menu spans eight flavors of cookies that are baked on site, local milk from South Mountain Creamery, and Ice Cream Jubilee ice cream.” [Washington City Paper]

Metro Reducing Delays on Local Lines — “Additional weekday service improvements will start Monday, February 14, with customers seeing more trains, more often on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, at least every 20 minutes. The change expands on earlier service improvements to the Red (every 12 minutes), Green and Yellow lines (every 20 minutes).” [WMATA]

Arlington Company Admits PPP Fraud — “Zen Solutions Inc., located in Arlington, Virginia, has agreed to pay approximately $31,000 in damages and civil penalties to settle allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by obtaining more than one Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in 2020. Zen Solutions also agreed to repay the duplicative PPP loan in full to its lender, relieving the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) of liability to the lender for the federal guaranty of approximately $192,000 on the improper loan.” [U.S. Attorney’s Office]

Vehicle Flips Along Washington Blvd — From Dave Statter on Saturday night: “Crash with a vehicle overturned at Washington Blvd & Brookside Dr (betw Rt 50 & Pershing).” [Twitter]

Icy Conditions Possible This Morning — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Road surface temperatures above freezing have meant no deployment of salt with today’s winter weather event. But be prepared for possible slick spots overnight into the morning. Crews will be on the lookout.” [Twitter]

It’s Valentine’s Day — Today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 33 and wind gusts up to 21 mph. Sunrise at 6:59 a.m. and sunset at 5:45 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 41. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington’s top prosecutor just got a boost from the U.S. Department of Justice to continue pursuing criminal justice reforms.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded $340,000 to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, led by Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. This is the maximum grant allowed through the bureau’s Innovative Prosecution Solutions program, according to a press release.

The $340,000 will fund two new positions, including one for someone trained in social work, the release said. It will support work to train facilitators in restorative practices — intended to reduce the length of incarcerations, at least in some cases, while also providing justice to the victim — and identify which D.C.-area restorative services and diversion programs produce the best public safety outcomes.

“It’s a game changer because it allows us to develop partnerships with diversion programs across the Metro area, for the first time, both in service of developing opportunities and reducing recidivism, incarceration, and racial disparities,” Dehghani-Tafti said.

The office will also hire a data expert and purchase software needed to analyze data about prosecutions, including how cases are resolved. Dehghani-Tafti campaigned on using data and evidence to drive criminal justice reform.

“It also gives us the capacity for evidence-based prosecution and evidence-based diversion decisions,” she said.

This grant will fund these positions and activities through June 2023, according to the release.

“This grant acknowledges and supports the work of local prosecutors trying to transform the criminal legal system,” said Dehghani-Tafti, who successfully ran on a criminal justice reform platform in 2019, in a statement.

Additional statements from the press release are below.

“I applaud the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s efforts and office for applying and obtaining funding under the DOJ’s FY 2021 Smart Prosecution–Innovative Prosecution Solutions Program,” stated Julius D. “J.D.” Spain, Sr., President Arlington Branch NAACP. “In efforts to focus on mediation and agreement rather than punishment, our community needs alternatives to traditional discipline. This additional funding will assist in developing effective strategies, enhancing our Restorative Arlington Program, and combating and prosecuting violent crime in Arlington.”

“Black Parents of Arlington commends the Commonwealth’s Attorney and her office for taking this important step to develop effective, economical, and innovative responses to crime within our jurisdiction,” said Whytni Kernodle, Co-Founder and President, Black Parents of Arlington. “These funds should help reduce rather than exacerbate racial disparities that are particularly harmful to young Black males, while helping to reduce crime and increase public safety for everyone in our community.”

“This funding will allow us to leverage the innovative and data driven work that Parisa’s office has been focused on since day one to increase efficiency, security and safety for our community,” said Kimiko Lighty, Coordinator, Restorative Arlington. “This grant award is an endorsement of the collaborative spirit that system partners here in Arlington have prioritized and we will all benefit from the investment in updated data systems and coordinative personnel.”

This year has also seen Dehghani-Tafti launch a wrongful convictions unit and partner with a national criminal justice organization to reduce race-based differences in prosecution by 20%.

At the same time, her tenure has seen some controversies. She has been the target of a recall effort, which cites increases in certain crimes such as carjackings — though the same data also shows a decrease in violent sex offenses and a relatively low homicide rate.

Additionally, there have been conflicts with judges over plea deals and dropping charges without an explanation for the record.

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Gavel (Flickr photo by Joe Gratz)

The Alexandria man whose drugs led to a local woman’s death is expected to spend at least a decade in prison.

Prosecutors announced this morning that 29-year-old Kibruysday Degefa, accused of distributing the fentanyl-laced drugs that caused the overdose death of a 20-year-old woman in Arlington, was convicted on an array of charges by a jury in Alexandria federal court.

Arlington County Police Chief Andy Penn helped to make the announcement. Degefa is set to be sentenced in February and is facing a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia is below.

A federal jury convicted an Alexandria man yesterday on charges of conspiracy, possession, and distribution of fentanyl and Eutylone, and being a felon in possession of a firearm during drug trafficking.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, from in or around June 2020, through at least December 2020, Kibruysday Degefa, 29, conspired with others to distribute counterfeit, pressed pills containing fentanyl, as well as Eutylone, which is a designer drug similar in character to MDMA. Pills distributed by the conspiracy twice on December 20, 2020, contributed to the mixed drug overdose death of a 20-year-old female in Arlington, whose blood was later determined to contain fentanyl. A search warrant on the hotel room where Degefa was staying at the time revealed additional narcotics for distribution, including Eutylone, along with multiple firearms concealed in the bathroom ceiling tiles. Degefa was previously convicted of robbery in Alexandria in 2015.

Degefa faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison when sentenced on February 18, 2022. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andy Penn, Arlington County Chief of Police; Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Division; Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police; and Charlie J. Patterson, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the verdict.

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An Arlington man was sentenced yesterday (Feb. 24) to 12 years and 7 months in prison for his participation in a conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

Cornelius Frazier, 32, would press pills containing fentanyl so that they would resemble prescription pills (like Oxycodone) so that he could distribute for financial gain, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release and court documents.

“As this case demonstrates, fentanyl is not only extremely dangerous because of its potency, but also because it may be hidden in counterfeit prescription pills,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who took over the role on an interim basis last month. “We are grateful to the numerous law enforcement agencies that worked with our Office on this investigation and prevented kilograms of fentanyl from poisoning our communities and harming our loved ones. Their tireless efforts are saving lives.”

A number of local law enforcement agencies were involved, including the Arlington County Police Department, Falls Church Police Department, and Alexandria Police Department, per the release.

On June 1, 2020, a search of Frazier’s vehicle found more than 5,000 pills which tested positive for fentanyl as well as two brick-like packages weighing more than 1.6 kilograms which also tested positive for the presence of fentanyl.

A search of Frazier’s home ended in the seizure of a blender with about a kilogram of a mixture containing fentanyl. Law enforcement seized paraphernalia often associated with prescription drug trafficking including dust collectors with residue, a hydraulic jack, cutting agents, and pill presses containing markings consistent with Oxycodone, according to federal prosecutors.

Also found: nearly $35,000 in cash, a loaded AK-47 with thirty bullets loaded in the magazine, and other guns.

Opioid overdoses remain a huge risk in Arlington County. 2020 saw a resurgence in opioid-related overdoses locally; there were more opioid related deaths in 2020 than in 2018 and 2019 combined.

Some officials believe that the pandemic holds much of the blame for the resurgence.

Full press release is below.

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Morning Notes

Possible Rabies Exposure in EFC — “On Saturday, January 30, a raccoon was reported in the area of the 6900 block Williamsburg Boulevard… in the East Falls Church neighborhood. This animal was showing signs of neurological symptoms and was caught and removed by Animal Control after potentially having contact with a pet. The raccoon tested clinically positive for rabies.” [Arlington County]

Rouse Property Showdown Heads to County Board — “With a unanimous vote, Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board kicked the controversy over preservation of the Rouse estate on Wilson Boulevard up to the County Board. The action, taken Jan. 27 after the matter was fast-tracked through what ordinarily would have been a much more drawn-out process, puts the advisory body at odds with the owners of the 9-acre property, who want to raze the buildings and sell off the tract.” [InsideNova]

Pike McDonald’s Robbed by Irate Customer — “The suspect was in the drive thru line of a business and became irate over an issue with their order. The suspect then parked their vehicle and entered the business yelling and threatening the victim. She slapped items out of the victim’s hand, then pushed her out of the way and stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the register, threw food items on the floor, and damaged property, then fled in a vehicle prior to police arrival.” [ACPD]

Local Businessman Pleads Guilty to Fraud — “An Arlington businessman pleaded guilty today to making false statements to multiple federal agencies in order to fraudulently obtain multimillion-dollar government contracts, COVID-19 emergency relief loans, and undeserved military service benefits… Robert S. Stewart, Jr., 35, was the owner and president of Federal Government Experts LLC, an Arlington-based company that purported to provide various services to the U.S. government.” [U.S. Dept. of Justice]

Volunteers Working to Widen Mt. Vernon Trail — “Volunteers removed overgrown grass and mud from the trail between Memorial Bridge and TR Island in January widening the trail by more than a foot in some spots. Volunteers also fixed drainage of three areas where winter ice sheets were forming. We have multiple upcoming volunteer events through March to continue widening the trail.” [Friends of the Mt. Vernon Trail]

Super Bowl Safety Reminder — “Super Bowl LV is on Sunday, February 7, 2021, and it’s one of America’s favorite annual celebrations… The Arlington County Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind football fans everywhere that Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.” [ACPD]

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Once high-flying local startup Trustify was able to grow due to a massive fraud perpetrated by its former CEO and co-founder, according to federal prosecutors.

Just three years ago, Danny Boice was the toast of the Arlington startup scene. Virginia’s former governor and Arlington’s former County Board chair praised his plan to add 184 jobs in Trustify’s sparkling new Crystal City offices — a plan that, if carried out, would have made him eligible for nearly $120,000 in economic development incentives.

But the grand vision for a thriving “Uber-for-private-investigators” service never came to fruition.

Behind the scenes, the investments that allowed Trustify to grow were being solicited with fraudulent information, overstating Trustify’s financial performance, and eventually the facade came crashing down. The company was placed into bankruptcy proceedings last year.

Boice, a 41-year-old Alexandria resident, pleaded guilty this week to one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud in connection to the scheme, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice. He’s set to be sentenced in March.

Not only did Boice lie to get $18.5 million in investment, the DOJ said, but he diverted nearly $4 million to his personal benefit, including homes and a private jet.

While some frauds may go unnoticed, the Trustify fraud was called out in real time by a devoted critic of Boice and the company. A local tech watchdog who went by the name “Mr. Cranky” wrote at the time of the governor’s jobs announcement, on a now-defunct blog, that Boice and his ex-wife/co-founder were “two low life scum, pretending to be entrepreneurs.”

“It is my opinion that Danny and [his ex-wife] are financing their luxurious lifestyle by crowdfunding money for their Dumpster Fire and using that cash for vacations, house payments, and private schools while investing little in the company,” he wrote. An earlier “Mr. Cranky” post reprinted a letter from Boice’s attorney demanding that he “cease and desist from continuing to publish false and intentionally disparaging statements about Mr. Boice and his company Trustify.”

The full DOJ press release about Boice’s guilty plea is below.

The former chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Trustify, Inc. (Trustify), a privately-held technology company founded in 2015 and based in Arlington, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to his involvement in a fraud scheme resulting in millions of dollars of losses to investors.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Daniel Boice, 41, of Alexandria, Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud before Senior United States District Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia. Sentencing is scheduled for March 19, 2021.

According to admissions made in connection with the plea agreement, beginning in 2015,  Boice fraudulently solicited investments in Trustify, a privately held technology start-up company that connected customers with private investigators. Boice raised approximately $18.5 million from over 90 investors by, among other things, falsely overstating Trustify’s financial performance. Despite representing to investors that their funds would go towards operating and growing Trustify’s business, Boice diverted at least $3.7 million for his own benefit and to fund his lifestyle. This included the purchase of a home in Alexandria, Virginia, travel by private jet, and furnishing a seaside vacation home.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office is investigating the case.  Trial Attorney Blake Goebel of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Carlberg of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.

Individuals who believe they may be a victim in this case should contact the Victim Witness Services Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at 703-299-3700 for more information.

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A once high-flying Arlington startup is now at the center of a federal fraud case.

Trustify, a Crystal City-based technology firm that provided an online marketplace for private investigations, went bankrupt last year. Just two years prior to that, the company moved into a swanky new office and was touted by the governor’s office for its plan to create 184 new jobs in Arlington.

Now, federal prosecutors are charging CEO and co-founder Danny Boice with investment fraud, saying he bilked investors out of millions of dollars while overstating the company’s financial performance.

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia:

The CEO and co-founder of Trustify Inc. (Trustify), a privately-held technology company founded in 2015 and based in Arlington, Virginia, was charged in an indictment unsealed today for his alleged role in a fraud scheme resulting in millions of dollars of losses to investors.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Daniel Boice, 41, of Alexandria, Virginia, was charged with five counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, and two counts of money laundering.

The indictment alleges that, beginning in 2015, Boice fraudulently solicited investments in Trustify, a privately-held technology start-up company that connected customers with private investigators.  Boice allegedly raised approximately $18.5 million from over 90 investors by, among other things, falsely overstating Trustify’s financial performance.  The indictment also alleges that Boice made false statements to investors about the amount of investor funds that he would personally receive, while diverting a substantial amount of the investor money to his own benefit.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office is investigating the case.  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission provided assistance and is also filing a civil complaint against the defendant for related conduct.  Trial Attorney Blake Goebel of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Carlberg of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.  The department would also like to thank the Virginia State Corporation Commission for its assistance.

Individuals who believe they may be a victim in this case should contact the Victim Witness Services Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at 703-299-3700 for more information.

Trustify co-founder Jennifer Mellon, who was also married to Boice, received a federal appointment as the company went belly-up. She is not named in the indictment.

In an ARLnow profile in 2017, Boice discussed why the internet was great for the private investigation business, saying that it “provides the perfect catalyst for puffing up your Facebook profile or LinkedIn or lying about not being in a relationship when you’re on Tinder, all those things.”

“The internet makes a great accelerator for dishonesty,” said Boice.

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The Dept. of Justice has filed a civil action that would seize nine acres of county land on the eastern end of Columbia Pike by eminent domain, in order to expand Arlington National Cemetery.

The suit appears to be part of the long-standing plan to expand the cemetery around the Air Force Memorial, and includes no indication of resistance from the county. Arlington endorsed the federal proposal in April, which realigns and upgrades a portion of Columbia Pike in exchange for the county-owned land next to the cemetery.

As of Tuesday morning neither the Justice Department nor the county responded to requests for comment by ARLnow.

The action was announced Monday, with the DOJ touting it as a win for both military veterans and local residents.

“When completed, the Arlington National Cemetery Southern Expansion Project will provide for approximately 60,000 additional burial sites, including an above ground columbarium,” said a press release. “The expansion will extend the timeline for Arlington National Cemetery to continue as an active military cemetery.”

“The expansion project will benefit Arlington County and its residents by, among other things, burying overhead power lines and incorporating the Air Force Memorial and surrounding vacant land into Arlington National Cemetery,” the press release continues. “The project will transform Columbia Pike from South Oak Street to Washington Boulevard by re-aligning and widening it. The project includes streetscape zones with trees on both sides of Columbia Pike, adding a new dedicated bike path, and widening pedestrian walkways. The project also provides for the construction of a new South Nash Street.”

The full press release is below.

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Morning Notes

Special County Board Meeting Planned — On Thursday at 6 p.m., the Arlington County Board “will hold a special meeting for a listening session on racial justice, systemic racism and policing. The County Board special meeting will be conducted using electronic means.” [Arlington County]

County Commissions Still Mostly Inactive — “Faced with a growing rebellion over the lack of meetings by Arlington government advisory panels, County Board members and top staff on June 13 offered (slightly defensive) apologies – but not much of a roadmap forward. Board members were responding to a June 9 letter sent to them by 25 chairs of advisory groups, complaining that the local government has been lagging in re-starting meetings that largely have been on hold since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March.” [InsideNova]

Pandemic Affects College Plans — From a 60 Minutes segment on Sunday: “The struggle extends to those already in college who are laboring to pay tuition and are weighed down by debt like 20-year-old Katherine Trejo of Arlington, Virginia. The daughter of a single mom from Bolivia, Katherine was supposed to graduate from George Mason next year. She is the first person in her family to attend college.” [CBS News]

Summer School Registration Underway — “Registration for distance learning secondary summer school is underway. Elementary students who qualify to participate in the Elementary Summer Learning Program will automatically be registered by APS.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Guilty Plea in Case Involving Arlington Company — “A former Arlington business executive pleaded guilty today to embezzling nearly $8 million that was intended to settle claims by children who alleged they were victims of medical malpractice. According to court documents, Joseph E. Gargan, 59, of Round Hill, was the Chief Executive Office of the Pension Company, Inc., an Arlington business that would execute settlement agreements entered into between civil litigants.” [Dept. of Justice]

ARLnow Operating Remotely — Since the first confirmed local coronavirus case in March, ARLnow’s employees have been working from home. We plan to continue working remotely until 2021, and may continue to have most employees work remotely most of the time after that. [Washingtonian]

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Morning Notes

Ray’s the Steaks Closing — “Washington will soon lose a carnivorous institution. Ray’s the Steaks, an unfussy Arlington chophouse that’s operated in the neighborhood for 17 years, will close after service on Saturday, June 15, says chef/owner Michael Landrum.” [Washingtonian]

DOJ Announces APS Settlement — “Today the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced a settlement agreement with Arlington Public Schools that will bolster English language services to the district’s approximately 5,000 students who are not proficient in English.” [Dept. of Justice]

Flags Fly Half Mast for Va. Beach — Flags at Arlington County buildings are flying half mast in honor of the victims of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. [Twitter]

Parking Is Point of Contention for Redevelopment — “Some surface parking at the Crystal House apartments is set to stick around, even as the Crystal City property gets redeveloped — and that’s worrying Arlington planners reviewing the project.” [Washington Business Journal]

‘Move Over’ Month in Arlington — “Move Over Awareness Month, recognized each June, is a statewide safety campaign designed to reduce the risk of injury or death to emergency personnel by raising motorist awareness of Virginia’s Move Over law.” [Arlington County]

New Priest for Arlington Cathedral — “Effective Thursday, June 27, 2019 and in accordance with the clergy appointments made by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington. the Very Reverend Patrick L. Posey, V.F., will be leaving his current position as Pastor of Saint James Catholic Church in Falls Church, to become the new Rector of the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More in Arlington.”

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The School Board is expected to sign a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations that Arlington Public Schools has provided inadequate help for students learning English.

“In 2015-2016, a complaint was filed regarding service concerns for our English Learners at Jefferson,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia, referring to Thomas Jefferson Middle School (TJMS).

“The settlement provides specifics on actions that APS will continue to take to meet the needs of our English Learners,” he told ARLnow in an email Monday. “This settlement agreement provides a mutually agreed upon resolution in lieu of litigation.”

DOJ’s 19-page settlement gives APS 33 requirements to comply with, including that TJMS teachers and administrative officials be trained in English Learning (EL) program requirements. It also seeks to “ensure that ELs are not over-identified as needing special education services based on their language barriers in elementary schools and are not denied timely evaluations for suspected disabilities at TJMS.”

Bellavia said APS already has procedures in place to prevent English-learning being confused with special needs.

“For example, through the Arlington Tiered System of Support, all students are provided with core instruction and interventions based on their needs,” he said.

The settlement also stipulates that APS begin to translate copies of special education documents like Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 plans for disabilities into the languages spoken by EL students’ families.

“As part of the settlement agreement, we will now translate the framework into the four major languages of our families (Spanish, Amharic, Arabic and Mongolian),” said Bellavia, who added that the IEP framework is now only translated into Spanish. “We will also let parents know that the full IEP or 504 will be available for translation if requested.”

“Except in an emergency, the District will not use students, family or friends of limited English proficient parents, or Google Translate for interpretation of District- or school-generated documents or for any other translation or interpreter services,” the settlement notes.

Nineteen percent of APS students in 2017 were enrolled in EL learning programs, according to the most recent reports shared by the School Board. Among students in Pre-K through high school that year, Spanish was the most common foreign language spoken (22.8 percent of students), followed by Amharic (2.4 percent), Arabic (2.2 percent), Mongolian (1.8 percent), and Bengali (1 percent).

Although the new federal settlement only names TJMS, it notes that the recommendations apply to all of APS’ EL programs.

The document is currently listed on the consent agenda for the School Board’s Thursday meeting, a place usually reserved for items expected to pass without debate.

The settlement will not be finalized until DOJ officials and School Board Chair Reid Goldstein sign it.

If Goldstein signs the document, APS would also agree to do the following:

  • Tracking each student’s progress in EL programs and record the information in their permanent record.
  • Reporting compliance updates to the DOJ for review starting this October and until July 2022.
  • Conducting a three-year “longitudinal analysis” of all its EL programs, due for DOJ review by August 2022.
  • Develop a plan to “actively recruit” English as a Second Language (ESL)-certified teachers within 90 days of signing the settlement.

Failure to comply could mean APS violates the 1974 Equal Educational Opportunities Act, which requires schools provide the same opportunities for all students regardless of race, gender, or language.

DOJ did not respond to a request for comment for more information about the settlement.

The agency has settled with dozens of school districts over similar complaints in recent years, including Prince William County in 2013.

Bellavia told ARLnow that compliance with the settlement would not affect APS’ budget for the next fiscal year.

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