Alexandria, VA

Just Listed in Alexandria

Just Listed highlights Alexandria City properties that came on the market within the past week. This feature is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team (Licensed in VA) of McEnearney Associates Realtors®. 

Welcome Back!

Jen Walker here with The Jen Walker Team! We are a real estate group based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I, along with my two rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky and Micki MacNaughton, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $103 million in 2019.

3507 Halcyon Drive, Alexandria, VA 22305 — The Jen Walker Team

Enter into the foyer that leads to a spacious office with French doors — perfect from working/school at home! From there, head into the large living room and kitchen. The wood burning fireplace features ceramic tiling and a beautiful mantle and anchors this space to the kitchen and bar area. Featuring an oversized island, quartz countertops, Viking appliances — including a chef’s 6 burner stove/range — white apron-front farmhouse sink, crisp shaker style cabinetry and gorgeous bask splash, you will never want to leave this gourmet kitchen! The bar area has additional cabinetry and glass upper cabinets, making entertaining a breeze.

Off the kitchen is a large built-in banquette with piano-hinge storage and additional cabinetry and a door to the deck — great access for a grill area. Take a step down to the family room, and you will find a great playroom tv area or even a 5th bedroom — this room has a full bathroom and closet and sliding door access to the rear deck. The upper level has 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths and a stacked washer/dryer.

The master is very spacious with oversized windows, two walk-in closets and an en-suite bath. The three additional bedrooms have great closet space and share a hall bathroom. On the lower level you will find a recreation room, full bath, utility space and additional laundry. This room would be great for movie night and could easily double as a guest area/au pair suite. This home has a gorgeous rear yard and patio. Off the deck, step to the left for access to the patio.

Completely redone, this is perfect area for a socially-distant get together around a fire-pit or to relax in the shade. To the right is a sodded lawn — great for a game of catch, a garden or just relaxing. Beautiful landscaping adorns the front and rear of the home making the yard magical and private. Just a few minutes to “the Pit” park and located close to Del Ray, Old Town, I395 and Washington, D.C., you will love living in Beverly Hills! Welcome home!

Read More

0 Comments

This week’s Q&A column is written by David Howell, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant market news, contact David at 703-738-9513 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How did the real estate market for the first half of 2020 compare to 2019 in the City of Alexandria?

Answer: As was true across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic had significant impact on Alexandria’s real estate market. From January 1 to March 15 of this year when the COVID-induced shut down orders began, total new contract activity in Alexandria was almost identical to that of the equivalent time period of 2019. The market was off to a solid start and would have been even stronger had there been a greater inventory of available homes. More on that in just a moment.

Beginning in mid-March it became more challenging to physically show homes, and consumers were correctly concerned about going out. The chart below shows the significant drop in showing activity (2020’s activity is the green line) that reached the bottom of the trough in mid-April and began to reach “normal” levels by mid-May as phased re-openings began.

In June, reflecting the pent-up demand, showing activity eclipsed last year’s activity. And contract activity unsurprisingly reflected the drop in showing activity. From mid-March through the end of June, there was a 13% drop in the number of newly ratified contracts in Alexandria. Condos — almost half of Alexandria’s market — were hit a little harder with a 14% drop, while attached and detached homes were off 11%.

The other big story in Alexandria is the shortage of inventory. In the first half of 2017, there was an average of 412 available homes on the market at the end of the month. In the first half of 2018 that had dropped to 378 and after the Amazon HQ2 announcement inventory plummeted to an average of just 178.

Inventory has not rebounded, as the average month-end inventory is now just 173. That means the market has essentially half of “normal” inventory levels, and buyers are returning to the market more rapidly than sellers.

Despite the market contraction brought on by COVID-19, we expect to see very tight supply for the foreseeable future, which is great for sellers and a bit challenging for buyers. That tight supply will keep upward pressure on home prices.

For more in-depth, local real estate news and to search for your next home, please visit our website.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

0 Comments

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is an appeals forum for federal employees and former federal employees to challenge various types of federal agency actions, such as serious disciplinary actions (adverse actions), retirement appeals, whistleblower matters and other types of cases. The most usual type of appeal for federal employees involves filing an appeal over a serious disciplinary action, such as removal from the federal service.

During an appeal a federal employee can choose to be represented by an attorney or not be. In almost all cases, however, the federal agency will be represented in the appeal by an attorney. This article discusses some of the reasons for retaining an attorney familiar with the MSPB process to assist you in an appeal. In other words, the reasons why it is important for a federal employee to retain an MSPB attorney. Here are some reasons why it is important for a federal employee to retain an MSPB lawyer for their appeal.

Federal Agencies Treat MSPB Cases Differently When an Employee Has an Attorney

One of the reasons why it is important to have an MSPB experienced attorney representing a federal employee is that it will very likely make a difference in how the federal agency treats the MSPB appeal at issue. Federal agencies allocate their attorney resources first to cases where an individual has their own attorney. Those cases tend to get the most attention because there are attorneys on both sides of the appeal.

In other words, where an appellant has their own attorney, the federal agency involved will focus more on that individual’s appeal merely because they have an attorney. This focus can help to settle MSPB appeals.

The MSPB Process is Much Like a Regular Court Case

One of the most important reasons why it is important to have an MSPB attorney represent a federal employee in the appeals process is the fact that it is a very serious type of appeal, functioning much like a court case. There is a general misperception that the process is designed for an employee to effectively represent themselves. An MSPB appeal functions much like a civil court case where there is discovery, the taking of depositions and the filing of briefs.

It is critical that an appellant have counsel to assist them in these difficult and sometimes complex processes. It is often the case where federal employees discovery this fact late and we are contacted after discovery deadlines have passed which can make appeals much more difficult to prevail in and/or settle. It is important to have an MSPB attorney early in the process.

Having an Attorney Can Increase the Chances of Settlement

Federal employees who retain attorneys in the MSPB process, in our experience, are more likely to resolve their MSPB appeals. Part of the calculation by federal agencies, in determining whether or not to settle MSPB cases has to do with risk. Federal agency attorneys evaluate the risk of losing an appeal (a risk which increases when an employee has an attorney), but also other types of risks including the risk of adverse information being disclosed through discovery.

Individuals without counsel can run across difficulties such as how to format discovery requests or take depositions which can limit the amount of critical information uncovered in an appeal. This can decrease the chances of settling an MSPB appeal. MSPB lawyers are also able to understand and work out the legal terms of a settlement agreement with federal agency counsel to minimize risk and to attempt to ensure compliance with settlement agreements.

Read More

0 Comments

Just Listed in Alexandria

Just Listed highlights Alexandria City properties that came on the market within the past week. This feature is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team (Licensed in VA) of McEnearney Associates Realtors®. 

Welcome Back!

Jen Walker here with The Jen Walker Team! We are a real estate group based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I, along with my two rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky and Micki MacNaughton, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $103 million in 2019.

Our Just Listed properties this week features 2 properties in Alexandria that just hit the market! To start is this charming, storybook, detached Old Town home! With curb appeal for days, this 2 bed/2.5 bath home is charming yet efficient in every way. Enter through the white picket fence to the covered front porch and into the bright and sunny living room.

We will be featuring this home on a Virtual Open House this Saturday, July 25 at 11 a.m. on our Instagram. Move-in ready, updated and close to Metro, you don’t want to miss this one.

911 Princess Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 — The Jen Walker Team

With gorgeous plantation shutters, this room is great for lounging or hosting movie night. This room flows into the dining area, which features a dining area, a side entry to the exterior and a renovated half bathroom with carrara tiling and flooring. Continue on to the kitchen area with stainless appliances and ample cabinetry for storage. From the kitchen, French doors lead to the patio space in the rear — ideal for entertaining or additional living space. From the main level, head up the spiral staircase to two bedrooms and two full baths.

The primary bedroom has vaulted, wood ceilings, nice closet space and an ensuite bathroom. The second bedroom is charming and could be a guest area, nursery or office — also with en suite bath. French doors lead to an upper-level deck that overlooks the rear patio. Don’t miss the crawl space with outside entry — ideal for additional storage. Located in the heart of Old Town, this detached home is close to Metro, the waterfront and just three blocks to the shops and restaurants of King Street. Welcome home!

Read More

0 Comments

This week’s Q&A column is written by Rebecca McCullough of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Rebecca at 571-384-0941 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How hot is the summer real estate market?

Answer: Like the weather, it’s really HOT!

The last time I wrote an article about the market, it was March, and we were at the beginning of closures due to COVID-19. We were all very nervous about what lay ahead for our health, wealth and employment. For some, it has been a very challenging and heartbreaking time; for others, it has been okay.

Here we are, four incredibly unusual and stressful months later. So what happened in the real estate market? And what does it look like now?

The Northern Virginia real estate market saw a very quick slowdown at the end of March. The bottom of the market for contract activity over the same week the year before occurred during  the week of April 5 to April 12 in the D.C. Metro area with a drop of 44%. The following week, NOVA contracts bottomed out with a 40% drop over the same time last year. Surprisingly, only three weeks after the shut down, the market started to show signs of rebounding. This made sense, as the beginning of 2020 started strongly.

Since the beginning of July, we have seen an incredibly active and extremely competitive market. The biggest part of the story is the lack of inventory. Active listings are down 35% from this time last year and a whopping 52% down from same time in 2018. With spring level demand and exceedingly low summer inventory, we have ourselves a very strong seller’s market. In some pockets, we are seeing 15 or more offers on a property. Contingencies are being thrown out the window. It’s very challenging for buyers.

So what to do? Sellers thinking about listing, PLEASE do! We know there are still some sellers nervous about their health safety and therefore are holding off putting their homes on the market. Our industry has done a fabulous job of trying to make seeing properties as easy and as safe as possible through such avenues as online showings, virtual showings, 3D floor plans, FaceTime Live and more. If you search through previous McEnearney posts on ALXnow or visit our company website, you will see all the wonderful things we are doing as a community to keep you safe.

Buyers, buckle up! It’s going to be rough. Here are a few things you can do in order to put yourself in the best position to make an offer.

Read More

0 Comments

Just Listed in Alexandria

Just Listed highlights Alexandria City properties that came on the market within the past week. This feature is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team (Licensed in VA) of McEnearney Associates Realtors®. 

Welcome Back!

Jen Walker here with The Jen Walker Team! We are a real estate group based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I, along with my two rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky and Micki MacNaughton, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $103 million in 2019.

Our Just Listed properties this week features fabulous properties throughout Alexandria City!

Click here for more Just Listed properties in Alexandria and call The Jen Walker Team to schedule a home tour at 703-675-1566 or email [email protected].

In this midst of COVID-19, we will not be hosting any in-person open houses. We will, however, be going live on our Instagram every weekend for our virtual tours. Stay updated with our virtual tours by following us on our Instagram page for updates.

Happy House Hunting!

In our highly competitive Alexandria market, the Jen Walker Team has the insider knowledge to connect you with homes that are not even public yet. With more than 35 years of experience, the Jen Walker Team has the expertise to answer questions, calm fears, and streamline your transaction. Want to see other homes not featured in this article? Contact our team today!

Please note: While The Jen Walker Team provides this information for the community, they may not be the listing agents of these homes. Equal Housing Opportunity.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 #WeAreAlexandria

0 Comments

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Lisa Groover of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Lisa at 703-919-4426 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a real estate agent?

Answer: Over the past few weeks, two of my neighbors have asked me about getting into the business.

They were interested in exploring the types of skills and experience required. How to get started? How to build their business? And, of course, the big one… what sort of income should they expect?

In my case, I had wanted to be an agent right out of college, but my father said something like… “Absolutely not! No one is going to trust a 22 year old to help them buy or sell a house!” At that time, he was probably right, but now we are seeing more and more students majoring in real estate and using their technology and social media skills to market their services. It’s a good thing the excellent training at McEnearney has helped me keep up with the times!

Having been in sales, service and marketing for my entire career, the transition into real estate was natural for me. As an event planner and a promotional products consultant for many years, I am skilled at managing multiple projects simultaneously, tight deadlines and developing creative ways to achieve my clients’ desired outcome. Some of my colleagues were bankers, lawyers, dog trainers, travel agents, teachers, nurses and contractors before hanging up their shingle and have successfully brought those experiences to the field.

I will be forever grateful to a number of agents and brokers who took the time to discuss the business in length before I took the class to get my license. Their guidance was tremendously valuable in helping me determine what type of business model would work best for me. I went to open houses every Sunday for six months to learn about the types of homes available in various neighborhoods. Not only was I able to learn from the agent holding the open house, but I  experienced what it was like to be a potential buyer in that situation.

Developing clientele has been extremely rewarding for me. My first year, I held open houses 39 out of 52 Sundays. Some were for my own listings, however, a large percentage were for other agents at McEnearney. I met potential buyers that became clients, received referrals from my friends and neighbors, and remained active in my neighborhood, my volunteer organizations and throughout Alexandria.

I am honored to say that referrals from my past clients, friends and neighbors continue to be my number one way of growing my business, and I am grateful for the trust that has been placed in me.

Annual income is the question that is the one that is best answered by… “It depends!” Do you want to work part or full-time, during the evenings or on weekends? Would you feel more comfortable being part of a team or as an independent agent? Would you rather be paid a salary or on commission? What is the price range of the homes where you are best known? How far are you willing to drive to show or list houses? Would you prefer to work with a full-service brokerage or one offering limited services?

There are many variables to creating your business model. My suggestion would be to sign up for a class and see how you like it. If you do… start talking to people and develop an initial game plan. The good thing is… you can always change it!

Good luck!

Lisa Groover is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. As a resident of Alexandria since 1989, Lisa is thrilled to introduce her clients to such a dynamic place to live, and to market homes based upon their unique features, communities and neighborhoods. Having had seven Golden Retrievers, she is also dedicated to helping other dog owners through the challenges of renting, buying and selling their home.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

0 Comments

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

The Commonwealth of Virginia enacted a number of new employment laws this year, completely transforming employee rights as never before.

One of these new employment laws in Virginia involves providing Whistleblower rights for employees. In the past, employees had to rely on a very weak system of whistleblower protection that was developed through the courts and case law. Essentially, there was little protection for those terminated for blowing the whistle on an employer’s illegal conduct. That has now changed and this article discusses the new Virginia Whistleblower legislation.

Virginia’s New Whistleblower Law

Virginia’s new whistleblower law, enacted in House Bill 798, was sponsored by State Delegate Karrie Delaney, was signed into law on April 11, 2020, by Governor Ralph Northam and became effective on July 1, 2020.

The new law prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining, threatening, discriminating against, or penalizing an employee or from taking other retaliatory action with respect to the employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges of employment.

How an Employee May Be Protected Under the Whistleblower Protection Law

An employee may be protected by Virginia’s new Whistleblower Protection Law if they:

(1) Report in good faith (or cause another employee to report in good faith) a violation of state law, federal law, or regulation to a supervisor, law enforcement or to any governmental body (e.g., Fairfax/Arlington County, City of Alexandria, federal government authorities).

(2) Are asked by law enforcement or a governmental body to participate in an investigation, hearing or inquiry.

(3) Refuse to commit a criminal act for the employer that would expose the employee to potential criminal liability.

(4) Refuse an employer’s order to perform an act that would violate any federal or state law or regulation (and explain to their employer that their refusal is based on potentially violating the law).

(5) Testify before law enforcement or a governmental body if it is connected to an investigation of an employer’s unlawful conduct.

Employee Remedies

If an employee is subject to whistleblower retaliation, then she/he may file a lawsuit within a year of the retaliation. Courts in Virginia may issue an injunction against the employer’s retaliation, reinstate a wrongfully terminated employee, provide appropriate backpay, attorneys fees and compensation and costs.

The law is new and more complex than provided in this article so it is important to obtain legal advice if a suspected case of retaliation develops.

Contact Us

If you are in need of employment law representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

0 Comments

Just Listed in Alexandria

Just Listed highlights Alexandria City properties that came on the market within the past week. This feature is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team (Licensed in VA) of McEnearney Associates Realtors®. 

Welcome Back!

Jen Walker here with The Jen Walker Team! We are a real estate group based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I, along with my two rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky and Micki MacNaughton, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $103 million in 2019.

Our Just Listed properties this week features two fabulous properties in Alexandria City! This immaculately updated and maintained, this charming Del Ray two bedroom, two full bath row house is just what you’ve been looking for in a home. We will be featuring this home on a Virtual Open House this Saturday, July 11 at 11 a.m. on our Instagram.

543 Duncan Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301The Jen Walker Team

Enter into the perfectly landscaped front yard and on to the shaded front porch. Enter the home and into the living room that features a wall of newer windows and feels light and airy. The living room easily flows into the dining room and kitchen. With updated fixtures and appliances, the kitchen and dining rooms are perfect for entertaining or cooking everyday meals. The rear patio is just off the kitchen and is great for a BBQ or working from outside.

On the upper level you will find two bedrooms and a beautifully updated bathroom. The lower level is ideal for cozy movie nights or an extra guest area — with plush carpeting, this cozy space also includes a renovated full bathroom. Laundry, storage and utility space are also found on the lower level, which has a rear entry up to the backyard.

Walk to all that Del Ray has to offer with restaurants and shopping on “the Avenue” just blocks away. Less than a mile to Braddock Road Metro and close to Potomac Yard, the location is ideal! Home updates since purchased include: crown molding throughout living/dining, Bosch dishwasher, updated lighting, Moen touchless kitchen faucet, new, larger HVAC system and thermostat (Carrier, via FH Furr) and water heater in 2018, re-wired the master bedroom and installed Hunter fan, refinished tub, new exterior lighting, added power to front and rear porches, re-stained fencing and steps, new gutters and drainage in rear (2019), replaced front fence.

Read More

0 Comments

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Kate Crawley of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Kate at 703-888-8141 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Why do design trends become popular?

Answer: As a realtor, I see a lot of the same features in the homes I visit. Sparkling white subway tile — check. Main level powder rooms — check. Ooh, a porch? Check, check! No, wallpaper really isn’t a feature that buyers are looking for — please remove it and paint your walls a light, soothing color. Walking through my community, I see more and more Adirondack chairs being planted in front yards and porches are dressed as outdoor rooms. So, how did these designs become so ubiquitous?

Disease did it.

Subway Tile

In the 19th century, as germ theory was developing amid deadly tuberculosis and influenza epidemics, the most effective way to stop the spread of a disease was through cleanliness. Wall paper and paneled wood absorbed moisture and odors and were made to hide the dirt. Hospitals and public buildings and shops installed the tiles as dirt was easy to see and material easy to clean. A butcher shop or fish market would have the tile to communicate how clean and fresh their product was.

In 1904, designers George C. Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge created the 3″ x 6″ tile for the very first station of the brand new subway system in New York City. As often happens, the commercial design was transferred to the residential.

Plumbing and manufacturing advances meant the end of the coffin-like tub encased in wood and lined with tin and brought in shiny ceramic tubs, sinks and toilets that didn’t need to be placed in backyard privy. The new linoleum products replaced wood floors and were considered a modern, easy to clean esthetic. Tile was installed along the walls of kitchens and baths alike.

Have a seat

Upstate New York saw the construction of the sanitarium industry to house and treat the patients suffering from tuberculosis. At least by Victorian standards, there were large and unadorned buildings and cottages set out in the dry healthy air of the mountains. Sunlight and fresh air were the treatment, so daybeds and chairs that were light enough to be moved out onto open porches or glassed in sunrooms provided comfort. With tilting backs and seats, wide arm rests for belongings or a rest to elevate the feet, these were the forerunners of the Lay Z Boy and of course, the Adirondack chair.

Read More

0 Comments

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Jillian Keck Hogan Real Estate Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Jillian at 703-951-7655 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: When is the best time to sell?

Answer: If you are considering selling for the first time, you may find yourself debating, when is the best time to do so?

In Northern Virginia the number of homes on the market at the end of May 2020 was down 31.3% compared to the end of May 2019. For roughly the last 5-7 years we have experienced a seller’s market, but now more than ever, we are in need of inventory for buyers in the D.C. Metro area. Demand for housing proves to be strong as we enter the second half of the year.

As long as interest rates remain historically low and consumer confidence is high, we should expect to see these trends continue. If you are considering selling, now is a great time to reach out to a professional real estate agent to discuss your options. We’d be thrilled to interview for the job!

Question: Should I make updates prior to selling?

Answer: If you are considering beginning a major renovation, stop. Renovations can be costly and time consuming. However, homes that are positioned well in terms of price and condition will tend to move faster with an accepted offer upon hitting the market.

First impressions are important. We always recommend hiring a professional photographer for marketing materials. If you own a condo in a high-rise building, preparing for the market may be as simple as neutralizing paint colors and decluttering your closets. While a single family home may want to spruce up its curb appeal with new shrubbery, mulch and freshly cleaned windows. It would be wise to consult with a professional, free of charge, before making any moves.

Question: What is my home value?

Answer: It is important as a seller to remember that memories and emotional feelings of attachment toward a property are not seen as valuable to a buyer. If you want to meet with a realtor to discuss your home’s value, begin collecting any and all documentation you have in advance of that meeting.

Examples of documentation are as follows: age of systems, maintenance records, service contracts and a list of upgrades. Providing these details upfront will help give a buyer peace of mind knowing the home had a great caretaker and add value in their eyes.

If a buyer is using financing to purchase your home, they will likely need an appraisal inspection as a condition of their loan approval. In order to gain an estimate of what a buyer may be willing to pay for your home and an estimate of the appraisal value, you will want to review the home sales that have closed most recently and are the most similar to your property.

Whether renting or buying, always consult with your local real estate agent for advice. We’d love to help you with the process! Contact one our team members today — Jillian Keck Hogan, Kristina Eells and Adrianna Vallario.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

0 Comments

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

The pending decisions by the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and Arlington County Public Schools (APS) about in-person instruction in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been an important issue for many individuals in Northern Virginia.

A number of families recently filed a complaint against FCPS on May 8, 2020, alleging a systemic lack of instruction given to Fairfax students with disabilities or special education needs. The complaint appears to be one of the first complaints on behalf of special needs students affected by online instruction and the pandemic. A federal class action was recently filed in court alleging similar issues against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in a recent lawsuit.

The Recent FCPS Issues and Complaint

Given recent news, Governor Ralph Northam is re-opening public schools in the fall, leaving significant discretion to counties. Individual counties will have significant flexibility in re-opening their schools.

Those families with special education needs and Individual Education Plans (commonly known as IEPs) are especially concerned. These students are substantially more affected than other students due to the lack of in-person instruction in schools. As a result, Fairfax County families filed a complaint against FCPS with the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), alleging a failure to provide equal learning opportunities to students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the examples cited in the May 8, 2020 complaint included requiring special education students to follow online classes for only portions of the day. Many students, given their disabilities, were unable to do so. Other students with disabilities were allegedly told that their specialized instruction would only begin when in-person school re-opens.

Federal Law Requires Protection of Those with Disabilities

There are several laws that protect students with disabilities. Principal among these is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C.§ 1400. Pursuant to federal law, children with learning disabilities must receive specialized instruction in order to provide them with a level playing field with those that do not suffer from such disabilities.

IDEA is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children. IDEA governs how states and public government agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to the almost seven million eligible children with disabilities.

However, according to the complaint the problem has been that FCPS was allegedly “pausing” such education until schools physically re-opened. As of this writing, there were at least three federal court cases filed in different jurisdictions nationally against other school systems regarding the lack of specialized instruction for special education students under IDEA. Further delays or curtailing of in-person special education may lead to additional lawsuits.

Difficulties Faced by Those with Learning Disabilities and Online Education

Families in the complaint have alleged that FCPS left children behind that need special education instruction behind due to the lack of in-person education. Many of the students involved in the complaint against FCPS have autism and dyslexia. While it is undoubtedly difficult for FCPS to have maneuvered these issues in March or April, there is hope that FCPS will strive to provide in-person education for healthy students, with proper protections, for those with special educational needs.

According to one of the parents of a child in the complaint, FCPS requested a delay in responding to parents’ complaint until June 11, 2020, which was granted. However, FCPS may have submitted their response past the business hours deadline on June 11, 2020. It is unknown whether VDOE will accept an after-hours response as of this writing.

Conclusion

Findings in the complaint by VDOE are due on July 7, 2020, unless further delays occur. Hopefully, FCPS, APS and other school systems will address the needs of affected special needs students. If interested in the complaint process or for more information, parents can contact VDOE here.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list