State Change Affecting Arlington Teacher Union — “Arlington School Board members could be gearing up to battle the state government’s powerful Virginia Retirement System (VRS) on a new ruling that impacts the way benefits are calculated for presidents of the Arlington Education Association.” [InsideNova]
Planetarium Closing Next Year — “In September, the David M. Brown Planetarium will once again offer three shows a day for students, plus weekend and select weekday programs for the general public. In January, it will temporarily shut down for more than a year while an adjacent construction project converts the Arlington Education Center into classroom space.” [Arlington Magazine]
Arlington Startup Serving D.C. Schools — “The administration of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced in August that the city would spend $26,400 to partner with LiveSafe, an Arlington, Va., tech company. The move comes in response to students’ repeated pleas to the city to make their commutes safer.” [Washington Post]
Ballston Bar’s Pricey Booze-Free Drinks — “The new Punch Bowl Social in Ballston Quarter mall was designed to cater to millennials (hello photo booths, corn hole, and karaoke). Now they’re jumping on the ‘sober-curious’ trend with a $19 zero-proof punch bowl.” [Washingtonian]
Local Courts Dropping Fare Evasion Cases — “When a rider is cited for not paying the fare to board a bus or train in Northern Virginia, the ticket is more likely to be dropped in the courts than paid. Only 278 of the 1,306 fare evasion citations handled by the Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria general district courts between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2019, were paid, according to court records. In those districts, roughly $38,000 in fare evasion fines have gone unpaid in the past two years.” [Washington Post]
HQ2 to Include Banana Stand, Local Businesses — “Schoettler said the outdoor areas will likely include elements from its Seattle headquarters, such as a community vegetable garden and a banana stand… Amazon’s in-house food program will only serve about one-quarter of the HQ2 workforce, encouraging the majority of the employees to each lunch at nearby businesses. And because Amazon will own the buildings, Schoettler said it will be able to curate the retail to focus on locally owned businesses.” [Bisnow, WAMU, Washington Business Journal]
County Again Recognized for Tech Savvy — “Arlington County is once again among the top ranked digital counties in the nation. The Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties 2019 award designated Arlington second place in the 150,000-249,999 population category.” [Arlington County]
Legion Development a National Model? — “Post 139 and APAH’s partnership should serve as an example for addressing the issue of homeless veterans, said Darryl Vincent, chief operating officer of nonprofit U.S.VETS… In 2018, there were 12,806 American Legion posts across the country, a huge inventory of property that could be repurposed as affordable housing.” [Politico]
Helicopter Noise Amendment Passes House — “The House of Representatives adopted a set of amendments to H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act, including two offered by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) which would address helicopter noise in the National Capital Region.” [Press Release]
ACPD: Lock Your Car and House — “The Arlington County Police Department is joining law enforcement agencies throughout the country in a public safety campaign aimed at promoting crime prevention strategies to reduce and prevent thefts from vehicles and homes. The campaign, known as the 9 P.M. Routine, encourages residents to conduct security checks in their homes and vehicles each evening to ensure their property is secure.” [Arlington County]
APS Teacher Receives National Recognition — “Wilfredo Padilla Melendez, teacher at Claremont Immersion School, received Instructure’s 2019 Educator of the Year Award. Wilfredo was recognized as one of six educators who go above and beyond to redefine traditional classroom activities.” [Press Release]
Photo courtesy Arlington VA/Flickr
Ride Hailing ‘Strike’ Today — “Getting an Uber or a Lyft may be impossible — or take longer and cost more — Wednesday when drivers for both companies plan to strike in major U.S. cities to protest what they say are unfair wages and poor working conditions.” [Washington Post]
APS Poaching Fairfax Teachers — From a candidate for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors: “Today I met a veteran teacher who is leaving FCPS because Arlington County will pay her $12,000 more annually. Meanwhile, all I hear about is how we are fully funding our schools. We still have some catching up to do Fairfax County.” [Twitter]
County Employees Getting Reusable Straws — Updated at 10:10 a.m. — “This week is [Public Service Recognition Week], and Arlington County employees will be celebrating with their new, reusable steel straws, distributed… as a thank you for their hard work.” [WDVM]
Another Traffic Enforcement Push in Clarendon — Yesterday Arlington County Police conducted “high-visibility traffic enforcement” at Clarendon Boulevard and N. Danville Street,” reminding drivers to “be [street smart] and yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.” [Twitter]
No State GOP Candidates in Arlington Yet — “Thus far, there have been no nibbles on the line among potential Republican candidates for state legislative seats. The party’s filing deadlines passed on May 2 and 5 for GOP prospects for the 47th and 49th House of Delegates districts and 31st state Senate district without any candidates formally expressing interest.” [InsideNova]
Pentagon Ricin Case Update — “Letters sent to the White House and the Pentagon did not contain a finished form of ricin, law enforcement officials said Wednesday, but did contain a primitive form or precursor… A man was arrested in Logan, Utah, on Wednesday in connection with [the] suspicious letters.” [NBC News, NBC News]
Candidates Call for Speedier Lee Highway Planning — “Indications are pointing to redevelopment of significant portions of the Lee Highway corridor through Arlington beginning to gather steam. But is the Arlington County government going to be left behind as the process grinds on? The two candidates for County Board say the local government needs to get moving on its efforts to lead a comprehensive effort in helping plan the corridor’s future.” [InsideNova]
GMU ‘No Scooter Zone’ Nixed — George Mason University “recognizes the popularity of the scooters, so it is softening the message, [spokesman Buzz] McClain said. ‘I think the ‘no scooter zone’ sign got the attention of a lot of people, a little exclamatory. So we’re gonna tone down the messaging and say, ‘park the scooters over by the bikes,’ and that’s it.'” [NBC Washington]
Tonight: Family Film Showing in Clarendon — “Join Market Common Clarendon each Thursday in October starting at 6:30 p.m. for a FREE family-friendly movie on The Loop! Pre-movie fun begins at 4:30 with face painting and balloon twisting and free popcorn and candy from 6-8 p.m.” [ARLnow Events]
Teachers Endorse Kanninen, de Ferranti — The Arlington Education Association PAC has endorsed Democratic candidate Matt de Ferranti for Arlington County Board and incumbent Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The PAC represents Arlington teachers. [Twitter, Twitter, Arlington Education Association]
Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kickoff — “Project PEACE is hosting Kate Ranta, a local domestic and gun violence survivor… for a community conversation about sex, violence and the Arlington community. The event takes place [on] Thursday, October 4 [at] 6:30 p.m., at the Walter Reed Community Center.” [Press Release]
Arlington’s Pros and Cons Compared to Tysons — “‘Arlington has old office spaces with bad floor plans,’ said [GMU Professor Stephen] Fuller. ‘That’s sending people out to Tysons, which has newer office space… [But] when Amazon was looking at Northern Virginia, they were looking at Crystal City, not Tysons. Tysons just doesn’t offer lifestyle that they’re looking for.'” [Tysons Reporter]
Tim Cotman received two big pieces of news on Wednesday (Sept. 5).
One was the surprise announcement by Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni that Cotman was chosen as “Teacher of the Year” for the state’s Region 4, covering all of Northern Virginia.
The other was that his daughter was being born.
Cotman is an English teacher at Jefferson Middle School and the school’s minority achievement coordinator, a specialist in working with minority students to close the achievement gap in public schools. Cotman has been working in APS for 22 years, both with students and behind the scenes developing training for staff.
Cotman’s daughter was born at 5:30 a.m. and so was unable to attend the assembly held at the school, but FaceTime’d in to receive congratulations from Qarni and the students and staff of Jefferson Middle School.
Yesterday was an announcement for region 4 Teacher of the Year. We had to SKYPE because his wife just had a baby girl. Yesterday was a special day for Tim and his wife, and winning Teacher of the Year for NoVA region gave them another reason to celebrate. pic.twitter.com/jnja74ZfHz
— Atif Qarni (@VASecofEdu) September 7, 2018
In April, Cotman was chosen as Arlington’s Teacher of the Year. The award particularly noted the effort he put not only into teaching, but into coaching, facilitating, mentoring and parent outreach.
Cotman is one of eight teachers from regions across Virginia under review next week to be selected for Virginia’s Teacher of the Year award. An announcement is expected to come Sept. 14. The winning teacher will then be put forward by Virginia for the National Teacher of the Year program.
Should Cotman win statewide, he’d follow in the footsteps of Wakefield High School’s Michelle Cottrell-Williams, who won in 2017.
Photo Courtesy Arlington Public Schools
An email sent to parents said that a “conversation escalated” between the sub and school officials, prompting a response from the Arlington Public Schools human resources department and a school resource officer.
An APS spokesman declined to provide additional detail about what happened beyond what was written in the email, saying that it was a “personnel issue.”
The full email is below.
Dear Swanson Community,
Today, we had an incident involving our administrators and a substitute teacher. Because the conversation escalated, we coordinated with school administrators as well as our school resource officer. We also worked directly with Central Office staff in the APS Human Resources and Administrative Services departments to address the issue, and great efforts were taken to keep the interactions away from students to avoid causing further disruption to the school day. Nonetheless, several students witnessed the individual being escorted off school grounds.
In light of the prevalence of social media and other communication outlets, I wanted to let you know about this in case you see or hear any reports in the community. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at [REDACTED].
Photo via Arlington Public Schools
Flooding Closes Roads, Prompts Warning — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — Many Arlington residents may be bleary-eyed this morning after being woken up twice overnight: once by thunder, and another time by a Flash Flood Warning that sounded on many phones. Heavy rain caused flooding that prompted the temporary closure of I-66 in Arlington and the HOV lanes of I-395 just before the 14th Street Bridge. A Flood Warning remains in effect until 11:45 a.m. as additional rain is expected this morning. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]
Crystal City ‘Makes Parking Garages Cool Again’ — Some national press for the Crosshairs Garage Races in Crystal City: “Unbeknownst to the few at street level, there’s a crowd gathering in a parking garage below an unremarkable office building. Inside, giant speakers blast rock music. Cow bells ring. There’s whooping and hollering, there’s pie and beer–and there are bikes everywhere.” [Citylab]
County Employee Recognized for Preventing Abuse — “Cheryl Fuentes, who has been working in the Arlington County government for more than a quarter-century changing the lives of parents and children, was honored as Arlington’s 2018 ‘Ally in Prevention’ by Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia.” [InsideNova]
APS Finalists for WaPo Awards — Hoffman-Boston principal Kimberley Graves and Thomas Jefferson Middle School teacher Timothy Wyatt Cotman, Jr. are among the finalists for the Washington Post Teacher of the Year and Principal of the Year awards. [Washington Post]
ACPD to Hold Award Ceremony — “The Arlington County Police Department will hold its annual Principles of Government Service Awards (PGSA) Ceremony on Monday, May 7, 2018, at Kenmore Middle School, 200 S. Carlin Springs Road, at 7 p.m. The ceremony recognizes the achievements of police personnel in service to the community and highlights the Department’s dedicated pledge of duty, honor and commitment.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Kathleen Branch
ACFD Battles Kitchen Fire — Arlington County firefighters last night extinguished a kitchen fire in an apartment building on the 1900 block of N. Calvert Street, just north of Lee Highway and east of Spout Run. No injuries were reported. [Twitter, Twitter]
Taylor P.E. Teacher Pleads to Drug Charge — A second former P.E. teacher at Taylor Elementary School has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a drug bust in December. Michael Diaddigo, 28, will reportedly “serve 1 of a 12-months jail sentence if he follows probation, which includes a $500 fine and substance abuse treatment.” [Twitter]
Central Place Bus Tunnel Still Closed — “A bus tunnel in Rosslyn critical to many commuters — which Metro said more than a year ago would open in days — remains closed due to outstanding construction concerns, WTOP has learned.” [WTOP]
Lanes Closures in Crystal City Tonight — The lanes of certain roads around Crystal City will be closed for about two hours tonight to accommodate the first of the annual Crystal City 5K Friday races. [Arlington County]
Residential Parking Permit Applications — “It is now time to renew your Residential Permit Parking Program permits and passes for the new program fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018. Remember enforcement continues throughout the year, so new passes/permits must be displayed by July 1st, 2018.” [Arlington County]
Actor Says No to WJLA Interview — Amy Schumer has turned down an interview with Arlington-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7) because it is owned by Sinclair, the broadcast station owner under fire for making its anchors read a script denouncing “biased and false news” from other outlets. [Buzzfeed]
Michelle Cottrell-Williams, an Arlington Public Schools high school teacher, was named Virginia’s Teacher of the Year for 2018.
Join her and ARLnow assistant managing editor, Bridget Reed Morawski, as the two talk APS world language reductions proposed for next year’s budget, the one-to-one device program, and guns in schools.
Arlington County Police say that the suspect, Robert Keith Rowe, lived in Arlington but was a teacher at Sandburg Middle School in Fairfax County. Online records suggest he was a chair of the school’s math department.
Rowe is being held without bond at the Arlington County jail in Courthouse.
More from an ACPD press release:
Detectives with the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit have charged 56-year-old Robert Keith Rowe of Arlington, VA with Possession of Child Pornography. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.
An Arlington County detective assigned to the regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force began an intensive investigation into the online activities of Mr. Rowe after receiving a tip about possible criminal behavior. Following the execution of a search warrant at his residence in the 1200 block of S. Forest Street on the morning of March 15, Mr. Rowe was taken into custody. Evidence collected at the scene resulted in the charge against him.
Mr. Rowe is currently a teacher at Sandburg Middle School in Fairfax County. At this time, detectives have not located evidence to suggest he has had inappropriate contact with children. This remains an ongoing and active criminal investigation and anyone with information about Mr. Rowe that may be pertinent to this case is asked to contact either Detective G. Sloan at 703-228-4198 or [email protected] or Detective H. Molina at 703-228-7037 or [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
Two Taylor Elementary physical education teachers are facing charges and a third is being investigated after a drug bust at the sought-after north Arlington school.
In a letter to parents, school principal Harold Pellegreen said that P.E. teachers Michael Diaddigo and Luke Lloyd have been charged with possession of marijuana and have been suspended from the school. Another has been “placed on administrative leave, pending further investigation by the police.”
TV news reports, citing court documents, said that police were told by an informant that the three teachers regularly smoked pot in their school office. They were also told that Diaddigo distributed marijuana to other teachers on school property. Students were reportedly unaware of the activity.
On a staff page that has since been removed, Taylor Elementary’s website said that Diaddigo was new to Taylor after two years of part-time P.E. teaching at Arlington’s Campbell and Tuckahoe elementary schools. Diaddigo is a Loudoun County native while Lloyd attended high school and college in Fairfax County, the page said.
The full letter from Pellegreen to parents is below.
Subject: APS School Talk – A Message from the Principal
A message from TAYLOR ELEMENTARY
Dear Taylor Families:
I wanted to update you on an incident that occurred at school earlier today. Based on information received by the Arlington County Police Department, this morning we cooperated with the police on their investigation into a matter involving three Taylor staff members. As a result of their investigation, Michael Diaddigo and Luke Lloyd have been charged with possession of marijuana and have been suspended. One additional staff member has been placed on administrative leave, pending further investigation by the police.
As educators, we are obviously shocked and dismayed by this news, and our first concern has been for our students. While I can’t share the details about the investigation with you because it is an ongoing personnel and police matter, I want to share how we are rallying to support our children, families and staff:
We believe the investigation is only focused on the adults and does not involve any of their interactions with our children. We met with the Taylor staff this afternoon to share this news, and we all remain committed to maintaining our focus on our primary goal of providing the best academic and personal support for all Taylor
Counselors will visit these classes next week to share with students what has happened in age-appropriate ways, and our counselors will be available to help any students who may have questions or need to
discuss this change.
Our administrative team is working with our Human Resources staff and we are following all APS personnel policies and procedures to deal with this matter appropriately.
We will continue to work to ensure that we have qualified replacements in place for these positions so that instruction can proceed without interruption.
This is a disheartening situation for Taylor and the entire APS community. Please be assured that we will continue to work together to ensure that Taylor’s students, families and staff are supported during this transition.
As always, don’t hesitate to call me if you need to discuss specific concerns about your child.