A new report on student safety should be taken with a grain of salt, according to members of the Alexandria School Board.
The School Board received the report Thursday night (September 22), and it includes details of 194 incidents that occurred between January and June. Not all of the incidents were criminal in nature, which led some School Board members to question the report’s validity.
“It’s really easy to look at these numbers of these data and draw conclusions, some of them often negative,” said School Board Member Ashley Simpson Baird. “It’s also really difficult just because we don’t yet have that longitudinal data yet, this is just a school year. We don’t know if this is better or worse than two years ago, or three years ago or 10 years ago.”
The data shows that 26 Alexandria City Public School students were arrested in the final two quarters of the 2021-2022 school year. There were also 34 students injured, 28 reported fights/assaults and 11 incidents of sexual assault/sexual misconduct. With the four quarters of the year combined, 46 students were arrested and 68 injured.
Board Member Abdel Elnoubi agreed with Simpson Baird.
“Wait and let’s have a goal that hopefully we start seeing numbers come down,” Elnoubi said. “Don’t look at raw numbers. Don’t look at that in a vacuum, because we It doesn’t mean much unless you put it in context. I just encourage community members to keep that in mind.”
John Contreras, the ACPS director of Safety and Security Services, said that not all incidents were criminal in nature, like when a child needed help getting unstuck in their second grade classroom, or when a golf cart battery caught fire at Alexandria City High School.
“It is important to note that APD (Alexandria Police Department) calls for service are not solely in relation to support for incidents that are criminal in nature,” Contreras said. “It includes a wide variety of things, including missing students, that sort of thing, not an actual criminal act, but we do sometimes someone need assistance or police to help us look for a student that may have not come on time.”
Contreras also said that arrests increased because of large groups of students fighting.
“One assault by mob… resulted in six arrests,” Contreras said. “Another was three — three arrests in one incident.”
Contreras recalled another incident of students smoking marijuana in an ACHS bathroom.
“A teacher goes in there (the bathroom), notices that the aroma in there smelled like marijuana, a controlled substance that’s not supposed to be at the school, but interviews with students or a search of their belongings did not reveal anything. It’s still reported to us as a controlled substance violation of some sort. Law enforcement was collaborated with, but it didn’t really resulting with anything other than administrative response at the school level.”
Alicia Hart, the chief of Facilities and Operations, said that the report is the new baseline for the school system.
“This really is the true baseline for incidents, calls for service and arrests and should be used to note changes in school division safety,” Hart said.
Interim Superintendent Melnie Kay-Wyatt said she wants the numbers in the report to go down.
“I really think it’s just allowing probably another full school year this school year for us to get some more data to really start measuring,” Kay-Wyatt said.
Agenda Alexandria will discuss student safety on Monday, September 26, at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (101 Callahan Drive) at 6:30 p.m.
Alexandria’s interim superintendent says that Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposed new policies restricting transgender bathroom and pronoun use won’t be a distraction as the school system plans to continue its “gender-affirming policies.”
“We just want to make sure that we let our community know that we’re continuing our commitment to both implement and develop gender affirming policies for all ACPS students,” interim Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt told the School Board on Thursday night (September 22).
The Virginia Department of Education’s new policy adjustments go into effect on October 27, after the end of the 30-day public comment period.
While students are not required to wear gender-neutral clothes, the new rules state:
- School division employees must refer to students with the pronouns “appropriate to the sex appearing in the student’s official record”
- “The appropriate participation” in school programs separated by sex
- Overnight travel accommodations, locker rooms, and other intimate spaces used for school-related activities and events shall be based on sex
- Students shall use bathrooms that correspond to his or her sex, except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires
- Single-user bathrooms and facilities should be made available in accessible areas and provided with appropriate signage, indicating accessibility for all students
Kay-Wyatt said that the legislation will not be a distraction for the school system.
“This will not be a distraction from our priorities of the work for all of our kids,” Kay-Wyatt said. “And I’m going to say that again, because it seems that some comments were directed that we’re going to make this a priority and make everything else a distraction. We have our core priorities. We will continue to focus on making sure we do what’s best for all children.”
The revised legislation was announced earlier this week, and created a firestorm of criticism throughout Alexandria. Mayor Justin Wilson tweeted that the school system will uphold its existing policies regarding transgender students, and School Board Chair Meagan Alderton and Kay-Wyatt wrote a joint letter reaffirming the school system’s position.
“As a School Board and division, we are concerned with these ‘model policies’ that do not align with our mission, vision and core values to support all students and staff, in particular our core value of ensuring that we provide a welcoming environment for everyone in our school community,” the letter said.
Kay-Wyatt said that parents can reach out to their school administrations with questions, or email [email protected] for updates.
Today @ACPSk12 leadership provided an update to our community.
They will continue to implement existing policies that support our students, affirm their identity, protect their safety AND comply with the Code of Virginia.
I stand with ACPS and with the students they serve. pic.twitter.com/UT4mLvFUaU
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) September 19, 2022
Founders Jahmond Quander and Chef Sonny Tena say that their menu is straightforward — fine American steakhouse fare with some French and Asian fusions. Lunch costs about $50 for two, and dinner can cost upward of $100 without drinks.
“Eighty percent of the customers who come in order the steak,” Tena said. “The menu is straightforward and the quality is top-of-the-line.”
Quander bought the building, which is also home to the Alexandria Times newspaper, for $4.4 million in February. A native of the Alexandria portion of Fairfax County, He’s worked his way up in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years, working his way up from his first job as a dishwasher at a restaurant in Springfield Mall.
Quander can trace his family roots back 350 years, and to where his ancestors were once slaves at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. The year 1799 is the year that Washington died and freed his slaves in his will. Quander was also the former director of food and beverage operations at George Washington’s Mount Vernon from 2013 to 2016.
“The proximity of 1799 to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the ports of Alexandria, where my ancestors arrived as slaves right here, it was only fitting that the flagship location, the first location that we open up is here in Old Town, and that the name be 1799,” Quander said. “We don’t consider ourselves fine dining. I say we’re polished casual, because we’re not pretentious. We value people, and we value the business that comes in here. This is a incredible community that has embraced us from day one when we opened up. We are incredibly appreciative of that.”
After an interior renovation, the restaurant opened in August, and now features the muted landscape paintings of Del Ray artist Jim Halloran in the Peacock Lounge, the George Washington room, the Charles room (named after Quander’s grandfather) and the Elizabeth room (named after his wife and daughter).
Before buying the building, Quander was the general manager at Blackwall Hitch on the waterfront. That’s where he met Tena, who was the executive chef at the restaurant for five years.
The pair say that their brand can go places, and that their 85 staffers have been trained intensely to perform consistently.
“This brand has legs,” Quander said. “We plan to grow the concept. We want to go into the right market, and want to make sure that the opportunity is right. One of the markets we’re looking at right now is the University of Maryland’s Prince George’s Hospital Center. We’re also considering Richmond, possibly Loudoun County, and at some point possibly Charlotte, North Carolina or even Florida. I told chef we’re gonna be retiring in Florida.”
Tena, a native of the Philippines, has been in the industry for the 25 years. He started work on cruise lines and then moved to the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks and anthrax attacks crushed the cruise industry.
Quander says he wants to get better signage to attract customers on King Street, and to make inroads with nearby hoteliers.
“It’s all about relationship building,” he said. “And making sure you know that when these lovely folks with checking in, the hotels are saying, ‘There’s a great restaurant right on our backyard. Check it out.'”
A 14-year-old Alexandria boy was arrested and charged with robbery after allegedly pistol-whipping a juvenile in the West End.
The incident occurred on Tuesday, July 5, in the 400 block of N. Armistead Street. Police found the juvenile victim with a “large amount of blood” on his hands, as well as abrasions on his head and cheek, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The victim told police that three suspects stole his backpack and Apple Air Pods by force, and that one of them hit him with a plastic gun.
“One of the suspects possessed an apparent plastic gun and pistol whipped (the victim) with the weapon while in the process of stealing their property,” police said in the search warrant affidavit. “Another suspect displayed a knife and threatened to use it against (the victim) during the incident.”
The suspect who allegedly hit the victim was positively identified in a photo line up, and was arrested and charged with robbery from person. He was taken to the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center.
Betty doesn’t subscribe to the notion that black cats crossing paths are bad luck.
The nine-year-old female black medium-haired cat is up for adoption with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.
“Betty is definitely channeling her zen vibe,” said AWLA spokesperson Gina Hardter. ” She’s not the kind of cat you’ll find climbing the curtains; her preferred perch is on the couch, by your side, maybe taking in a Netflix binge of Midsomer Murders.”
Learn more and schedule time to meet Betty by emailing [email protected] or calling 703-746-4774.
Twenty six Alexandria City Public School students were arrested in the final two quarters of the 2021-2022 school year. There were also 34 students injured, 28 reported fights/assaults and 11 incidents of sexual assault/sexual misconduct.
There were also 15 seized weapons, including seven knives and three stun guns/tasers.
That’s according to a School Safety Data report to be presented to the School Board on Thursday (September 22). With the four quarters of the year combined, 46 students were arrested and 68 injured.
The report sheds light on the safety situation within the school system, which came under intense scrutiny when School Resource Officers were defunded between August and October of last year. The SROs — police officers assigned to the city’s high school and middle school campuses, were brought back by City Council after a violent first few months back to in-person schooling.
Most notably, just before the end of the school year an Alexandria City High School senior was stabbed to death in broad daylight in the parking lot of the Bradlee Shopping Center.
In the first two quarters of the 2021-2022 school year, 20 ACPS students were arrested. There were 41 reported fights/assaults and 13 seized weapons, including a gun, five knives, a stun gun, two fake weapons, and pepper spray. There were also two robberies, three drug offenses, a bomb threat and 13 pulled fire alarms.
There were 194 total incidents reported in the third and fourth quarters.
- 36 incidents characterized as “other” (parking lot accidents, trespassing, mental health episodes, property lost/damaged)
- 34 injuries that required medical assistance
- 28 fights/assaults
- 19 incidents with drugs
- 15 incidents with weapons
- 14 reports of a missing student
- 12 incidents of prohibited items/materials
- 11 incidents of sexual assault/sexual misconduct
- 11 incidents of online threats
- Six pulled fire alarms
- Two Child Protective Services reports
- Two reports of suspicious activity
- Two reports of vandalism
- Two reports of theft
There were 82 incidents reported at the Alexandria City High School campuses, 65 incidents at the city’s two middle schools and 35 incidents at elementary schools. There were also 84 police calls for service — 48 at the high school campuses, 30 at the middle schools and four at elementary schools.
- 16 students were arrested for fights/assaults
- Four students were arrested for drug possession
- Three students were arrested for alcohol possession
There were 14 students arrested an the Alexandria City High School campus and 12 middle school students arrested. A vast majority of the students arrested are minorities.
The School Board will also get an update on the School Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) Advisory Group. That group is tasked with making a recommendation on the future role of school resource officers within the school system. The 16-person group has conducted three meetings so far, and plans to have its final recommendations to the School Board by mid-December.
According to a presentation that will be delivered to the School Board: “The mission of the SLEP advisory group is to assist ACPS leadership, the Superintendent and the School Board in reimagining the school law enforcement partnership with the Alexandria Police Department in order to ensure a positive, safe and equitable school experience for all students.”
Agenda Alexandria will discuss student safety on Monday, September 26, at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (101 Callahan Drive) at 6:30 p.m. Panelists include Alexandria Police Chief Don Hayes, ACPS Chief of Student Services and Equity Julie Crawford, Rene Islas of The Community Group and former ACPS Superintendent Herb Berg.
There are a number of event celebrating this year’s 85th anniversary of the Alexandria Library with discussions on the history of its branches.
The first public library in Alexandria, the Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library (717 Queen Street), opened in 1937, and is named after suffragette and philanthropist Kate Waller Barrett. In recognition of the anniversary, the Alexandria Library is conducting a number of events at its branches in the coming days.
On Tuesday, September 27, the James M. Duncan Branch (2501 Commonwealth Avenue) will host a special program to review the history of Del Ray after it was annexed by Alexandria in 1930, as well as how the the library built in 1969 and renovated in 2005. The free event begins at 6:30 p.m.
On Saturday, October 1, the Barrett Branch Library will host author Brenda Mitchell-Powell will discuss her new book, “Public In Name Only: The 1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In Demonstration.”
The event was the first known civil rights sit-in at a library. Five young black men were arrested after sitting in the library and reading after being refused library cards.
“The events that unfolded during that summer… changed the Alexandria Library, the City of Alexandria, and had ripple effects throughout the country,” according to the Alexandria Library.
A teller at the Alexandria DMV Customer Service Center (2681 Mill Road) has been charged with credit card fraud after allegedly using a stolen Visa gift card to pay for the license renewal of a friend.
The 40-year-old woman was arrested on credit card fraud charges on September 2, more than three months after a wallet with credit cards was stolen from a car in Loudoun County.
The incident occurred on May 28 in front of a house on Cardinal Flower Lane in Aldie, Virginia. The victim reported to police that her Kate Spade wallet with multiple credit cards was stolen and that the cards were then used to buy five Visa gift cards at three separate CVS stores in Maryland, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The incident occurred about 25 miles from the suspect’s home in the 100 block of Lynhaven Drive.
Two of the gift cards were used by two male suspects at a Lowe’s in Fairfax County that same day, May 28. The following day, a male suspect used another of the cards at a Walmart in Fairfax County. Neither of the alleged accomplices have been charged.
The suspect works as a teller at the Alexandria DMV Customer Service Center (2681 Mill Road), and on June 2 allegedly used one of the stolen Visa gift cards to pay for the license renewal for a friend, according to a search warrant affidavit. Police were able to see video of the transaction, which shows the suspect reaching over the counter to pay for the renewal with one of the gift cards.
“DMV law enforcement was able to video and documents of the transaction, including a DMV Teller Transaction Audit of the event,” police said in the search warrant affidavit.
The suspect was arrested on September 2 and released the same day on a $2,000 bond.
There were no injuries after a small fire in the vent shaft of an apartment building in the Fairlington neighborhood on Tuesday, September 20.
The Alexandria Fire Department was dispatched to the Waypoint apartment building at 2451 Menokin Drive at around 10 a.m. It took just over an hour for AFD to leave the scene.
“Units responded to the location finding a small fire in the vent shaft and quickly extinguishing the fire,” Alexandria Fire Department Senior Public Information Officer Raytevia Evans said. “At the time units arrived, the building was already being evacuated.”
The apartment building is next door to Fairlington Presbyterian Church and near the intersection of Menokin Drive and King Street.
More details have emerged in the August 27 shooting in the Braddock area that resulted left a woman injured and a man behind bars.
At around 8:30 p.m., a 38-year-old woman was shot in the foot in an alley in the 700 block of N. Fayette Street. Police say the woman was an innocent bystander.
Tykeece Simms, 21, an Alexandria resident, was charged with malicious wounding, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and unlawful discharge of a firearm. Police arrested Simms less than a mile away on the front porch of his home.
“Mr. Sims initially admitted to being at the scene of the incident but denied involvement in the shooting,” police said in a search warrant affidavit. “He stated that he ran from the scene becaus he heard gunshots. After further questioning, Mr. Simms admitted to being the shooter.”
Simms told police that he’d gotten into an argument with a man at a nearby deli, and that the man threatened his life, according to the search warrant affidavit.
“Mr. Simms state that he was in fear for his life, and felt it was necessary to shoot the gun to protect himself,” police said in the search warrant affidavit. “It should be noted that Mr. Simms smelled like alcohol and admitted to being intoxicated.”
Simms, who was not arrested with a gun, also allegedly told police that he was a convicted felon and felt it necessary to carry one for safety. No gun was recovered in the search of his home, but police found magazines and boxes with hollow-point 9mm ammunition, 9 mm handgun magazines and a soft case for a handgun.
Simms goes to court on October 5.