Local Commentary

Letters the Editor for the Week of September 11 – 17, 2008




Letters to the Editor for the Week of September 11 – 17, 2008

School Board: Personnel Items Must Be Private

Editor,

The School Board wants to make it clear that we welcome all public comments. Critical comments are especially useful, because they help the School Board do its job of monitoring how things are going. In fact, the School Board has gone to great lengths in the past few years to make its actions and information about the system more accessible to all citizens and to make it easier for everyone to share their concerns. One recent change was to revise the meeting agendas to put public comments first, and to move the School Board and Superintendent comments to the end, so that we can focus on listening. We also post all agendas and backup materials on the systems website via BoardDocs- just go to www.fccps.org and click on “School Board” and then “Board Agenda.”

While the School Board welcomes comments, we have a duty as an employer to handle personnel actions privately. This is so that any issues can be fully and fairly investigated before any potentially damaging accusations are made in a public forum. This is why personnel matters are discussed by all public bodies in closed meetings, pursuant to Virginia law.

The writer of a prior letter to the editor raised some concerns about the public comment process. She was actually told at that meeting that she had every right to speak about system issues, but that that she should not speak about particular school system personnel while her matter was under investigation. I am sorry if we did not make that distinction clear enough. As she stated in her letter to the editor, she had already filed a written complaint with both the School Board and the state about her concerns. The School Board had already acknowledged to her in writing that we would investigate, but that we had to wait until we heard the results of the state investigation.

The School Board continues to welcome all citizen feedback. Most concerns are appropriate for an open discussion, but issue that are not appropriate for public discussion can still be brought to our attention privately, if a matter can not be resolved at the source with the school personnel involved.

Ron Peppe, Chair

School Board of Falls Church City

Parent Deserves Apology for Being Cut Off

Editor,

Alison Kutchma deserves an apology from Falls Church City School Board Chair Ron Peppe. We were surprised by Mr. Peppe’s harsh tone of voice and his attempts to censor Ms. Kutchma during a recent public meeting. As taxpayers we have the right to be heard with respect by elected officials. Ms. Kutchma remained calm and focused under pressure. The pioneers of 1948 who formed our independent school system would be proud of Ms. Kutchma’s concern for the education of all children.

June and Mike Beyer

Falls Church


Hails Special Ed Services of Falls Chuch Schools

Editor,

Dr. Baditoi in particular has been hands-on with the needs of our family from the very first week of our transfer from the Chicago area in July of 2006. She personally presided over a meeting to adjudicate our short-fused request for our son’s placement in summer school prior to the start of his first year at Marry Ellen Henderson Middle School. Since he was coming from a 5th grade elementary class as a student with autism, my husband and I were very anxious to ease him into the middle school environment via the more intimate atmosphere of summer school before the full school year started. I was immediately impressed with Dr. Baditoi’s level of involvement, professionalism and concern in doing the right thing for our son.

Since the successful conclusion of that meeting, I have had frequent opportunities to associate with Dr. Baditoi. In addition to the co-operative teamwork that was characteristic of our IEP and Eligibility meetings over the past two years, I served with and grew in respect for Dr. Baditoi on the Special Ed Advisory Committee to the School Board for one year. I admired her public speaking ability as she disseminated information from her office and succinctly interpreted state policy for us. She is knowledgeable and forthright without being abrasive or condescending. Even when challenged by the occasional adversarial parent, in the meetings I attended she was always respectful and eager to clarify her position and gain consensus.

We are a Navy family, and our son has been a Special Ed student since he started Early Intervention in Fairfax County at age three. Since then, we have lived in the Sacramento, New Orleans and Chicago areas before coming to Falls Church City. We have been fortunate to experience good educational support for him across the country. For someone of her position, the level of Dr. Baditoi’s personal involvement in the education of our son and commitment to his success in the school environment is without precedent. I look forward to our continued association and her compassionate leadership throughout his high school years as our son begins 8th grade.

Peggy Monahan

Falls Church

Felt Bullied to Agree on School Decision

Editor,

We are writing to corroborate Ms. Kutchma’s experiences (described in last week’s News-Press) with Dr. Barbara Baditoi, Director of Special Education for the Falls Church City Schools. Regardless of its relevance, if information did not reflect well on the school system, Dr. Baditoi refused to include it in the IEP. If information did not support the placement she desired, she refused to include it in the IEP. We repeatedly and explicitly expressed our dissent. Dr. Baditoi repeatedly asserted there was consensus. It was as if she felt she could bully us into agreeing with her by simply ignoring us.

We share Ms. Kutchma’s disgust with the way our students and families have been treated. We would be more than willing to share details of our experiences with the school board and the State Department of Education. The City’s special education students and their families deserve better.

Amy Lester and Mark Scardiglia

Falls Church

Thanks Mess for Service To Country

Editor,

I read and re-read several times the article that Albert Eisele wrote about Walter Mess. I do not know Mr. Mess but I wanted to make a public statement thanking Mr. Mess for his many contributions to our country and community. Thank you also to Mr. Eisele for this fascinating article.

Dan Campbell

Falls Church

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