Newsletter
The Alexandria City High School graduation, June 4, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria City Public Schools expects its interim superintendent to serve for the entire 2022-2023 school year, according to a new job listing for the position.

“It is anticipated that this opportunity could last for the entirety of SY22-23,” ACPS said on the job listing, which was posted on Thursday (June 30). “The Interim Superintendent will report to and work in partnership with the Alexandria City School Board to carry out the vision and strategic goals of the division to ensure the success of students, employees, and the overall school community while the search for the permanent superintendent is underway.”

ACPS asked for community input on the superintendent selection earlier this week, with the goal of filling the job by July 28.

The interim superintendent’s contract would last “Up to six months or until a permanent superintendent is in place,” ACPS said.

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr.’s resignation goes into effect at the end of August, and the interim superintendent will be chosen by July 28.

Hutchings was hired in 2017, following a one-year stint by former interim Superintendent Lois Berlin, the former superintendent of Falls Church City Public Schools.

ACPS posted than 70 positions to its career site last month, including principal jobs at George Washington Middle School and  Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School, media relations specialists, school security officers, teachers, counselors and bus drivers.

The full interim superintendent job description below the jump.

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The scene of a crash outside Jefferson Houston Elementary School, March 29, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Alexandria Police Department (APD) will be ready to deploy five speed cameras in schools zones around the city by early next year.

Police Chief Don Hayes and Yon Lambert, the director of the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES), issued a memo to update the joint City Council/School Board subcommittee, which met on Monday (June 26).

“Staff have immediately mobilized to develop and implement this new program,” Hayes and Lambert wrote. “staff working group, which includes representatives from ACPS, APD, T&ES, and others, has formed to address the various aspects of such a program, including location selection, public communications, procurement, and other critical tasks. This group is working towards the goal of launching the program by early 2023.”

In May, City Council approved the $400,000 speed camera program, after a child was struck and seriously injured at an intersection just outside of Jefferson Houston Elementary School (200 block of North West Street).

Virginia code was amended in 2020 to add speed cameras in school and work zones. This is the first time Alexandria will use speed cameras, and City Manager Jim Parajon is considering lowering speed limits in residential, business and school zones from 25 miles per hour to 15 mph.

A working group made up of city staff and APD  are also putting together a program webpage, and the future location of the cameras have not yet been chosen.

“The locations will be data-driven,” said Alexandria Police Lt. Delton Goodrum told the subcommittee. “”Right now we’re pulling all this data between T&ES, APD and also ACPS (Alexandria City Public Schools.”

Staff will present the subcommittee with more details on the camera locations this fall.

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Alexandria City Public Schools want input from the community on the “intensive search” for an interim superintendent.

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr.’s resignation goes into effect at the end of August, and the interim superintendent will be chosen by July 28.

“As a result, the School Board and the ACPS community will be engaging in an intensive search for a new superintendent to lead our school system,” ACPS said. “We will move forward at the pace necessary for conducting a thorough and thoughtful process leading to the appointment of a new superintendent to guide our school division to continued success and sustain our positive culture of learning.”

Community members are asked to use the School Board Contact Form for submissions.

“Your feedback will be encouraged and considered as an interim superintendent, who can support the transition throughout the new school year, is sought and as the search for Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.’s permanent successor is conducted,” ACPS said.

Hutchings has been superintendent since 2017, and took over after a one-year stint by former interim Superintendent Lois Berlin, the former superintendent of Falls Church City Public Schools. Berlin left retirement to fill the office, which was vacated by former Superintendent Alvin Crawley.

ACPS released the following schedule:

  • July 7– Special Called Meeting- Public Announcement of interim supt. interviews, pursuant to Virginia Code 2.2-3712 (B)
  • July 8 – Applications for interim supt. position close
  • July 18-21 – Interim supt. interviews
  • July 22 – Board will extend offer to selected candidate
  • July 28 – Interim supt. selection approval and ratification of contract

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This logo was preferred by staff and focus groups, but not the Alexandria School Board. (Via ACPS)

After months of work, two logo redesigns for Alexandria City Public Schools were sent back to the drawing board.

Last Thursday night (June 16), the School Board voted 7-2 against staff’s preferred option. Only Board Members Willie Bailey and Christopher Harris voted for the preferred logo option.

“Obviously it’s not catching on,” School Board Chair Meagan Alderton said at the meeting. “Which is okay. I don’t think we want to do something just to do it.”

In February, after getting a graphic designer to make 10 logo concepts, the Alexandria City Public Schools Office of Communications created three separate focus groups, which spent months whittling designs down to two favorites.

“It seems like it would be helpful to maybe have a really concise message that we were trying to convey, and getting feedback from people and if the logo was conveying that message,” said Board Member Michelle Rief. “I’m worried that some folks may actually have a hard time even reading the letters, the way they appear in both of those messages.”

The two choices garnered more than 4,300 votes across multiple platforms. The preferred option — the lowercase letters with dots — got 2,167 votes (50.3%). The second option received 2,141 votes (49.7%).

The second logo option for ACPS. (Via ACPS)

“It’s interesting to see how the community was split 50-50 on the two logos,” said Vice Chair Jacinta Greene. “Have we considered asking our very talented ACPS students to submit potential logos like we did for Alexandria City High School and Naomi L. Brooks Elementary School?”

Julia Burgos, the ACPS chief of school and community relations, said that asking students to design the official logo of the school system was risky.

“If we went the student route, we have to take something from the students, and if there was something that wasn’t going to be representative, we don’t want to insult students,” Burgos said. “That was one of the concerns, because if this is the logo for the entire organization, the schools themselves and the student representation for the schools was a little bit less risky.”

Staff hoped to launch the new logo next month on the ACPS website, and to get in sync with our website redesign project scheduled to launch in July 2022.

Via ACPS

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Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) is hoping to head into the next school year with a better way for families to provide feedback in languages other than English.

Alexandria’s School Board approved the formation of Spanish, Amharic and Arabic-speaking advisory committees for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year.

“These advisory committees will provide a voice to specific language groups, giving committee members the opportunity to share feedback regarding focused, relevant topics for those communities in alignment with family engagement best practices,” ACPS said in a release. “Meetings will be held virtually in the native language and with English interpretation.”

The committees will advice the school division on needs for students and families whose primary language is Spanish, Amharic, Arabic or other languages.

“They also will provide recommendations regarding the education of these student groups,” the release said, “while assisting in educating the community about ACPS support for Spanish-, Amharic- and Arabic-speaking children and families.”

https://twitter.com/IntlAcademyACHS/status/1537586941712953344

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Alexandria Vice Mayor Amy Jackson took fire from one of her colleagues Tuesday night (June 14) against the appointment of former School Board Member Christopher Lewis to the Alexandria City Public Schools Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) Advisory Committee.

Jackson said that Lewis already serves on the city’s Community Policing Review Board and recommended Mike Mackey, the director of the Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Service Unit.

Council ended up voting 6-1 (with Jackson in opposition) to appoint former Lewis as its representative on the 16-person SLEP Advisory Committee, which is tasked with reimagining the Alexandria Police Department’s relationship with the school system — including school resource officers at Alexandria City High School and the city’s two middle schools.

“I just don’t think that he is pro-police,” Jackson said of Lewis. “I don’t, and that’s fine. But when I’m looking for someone to put on this particular task force that helps see all the situations and all the perspectives of everyone in the city, finding someone that doesn’t have that outlook and is already close-minded to certain aspects of it, I would not want to see on this particular committee.”

Lewis, the CEO of Public Knowledge, was a School Board member from 2013 to 2019, and last month was named one of Washingtonian Magazine’s 500 most influential people. Lewis was in meetings today and could not comment on this story.

Councilman Canek Aguirre said Lewis has an unparalleled resume, and that Jackson’s comments were “egregious” and “insulting.”

“It’s rather egregious to say that he’s not pro-police,” Aguirre said. “I’d ask where in the past has he ever said that he’s not pro-police. He doesn’t say that. That’s very insulting.”

Mayor Justin Wilson said that both Mackey and Lewis are great to work with.

“My hope is that they (SLEP) are a solutions-oriented group trying to bridge some difficult issues in the community, and coming up with thoughtful policy designs that ultimately can be accepted by both the City Council and the School Board, ” Wilson said. “I think Chris has a good background can help bridge that.”

City Council adopted a number of resolutions Tuesday night aimed at curbing violence within Alexandria City Public Schools, including Wilson’s and Council Member Alyia Gaskins’ memo on their Youth Safety and Resiliency plan.

Gaskins said that the community is still reeling from the death of Alexandria City High School Senior Luis Mejia Hernandez on May 24.

“We also know that many of our young people right now are dealing with the loss of a friend, a classmate,” Gaskins said. “We have parents who are grieving the loss of their son. And so this is really an opportunity for us to as we say in the memo listen, learn, and act.”

Of the 18 arrests of ACPS students between August and December 2021, a vast majority of students arrested are Black.

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. resigned last week and did not attend the meeting. He is out of the office until June 21.

Per the approved plan, staff will return to Council with a proposed timeline to start engaging kids, parents and ACPS staff on youth trauma and mental health within the school system.

“I think we are dealing with an urgent crisis,” Gaskins continued. “We have a great community that rallies and steps up when there’s a challenge, and this is our opportunity to do that once again, and to really build new relationships with our young people to let them know they’re cared about, and to take some important steps that invests in their mental health and their overall resiliency.”

Council also unanimously approved a gun violence prevention resolution, which encourages the school system to “review school curriculum, safety protocols, and professional development” related to gun safety and suicide prevention.

Wilson said that it’s time to step back, listen and learn from the community on what it wants regarding safety in schools.

“I think out goal should be to, first of all, step back, listen and learn,” Wilson said. “I think part of the message here is a little bit of humility in our policymaking and a recognition that for a community as diverse, and with a set of needs that we have in our city, there’s not going to be a set of policies that would guarantee that our community is going to be immune from this kind of violence.”

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Mayor Justin Wilson says its time to take a step back and reassess Alexandria’s approach to student safety.

In a joint City Council meeting with the School Board on Monday night (June 13), Wilson said that the community needs to be educated on how the city and school system plan to make schools safer.

“I do think part of this conversation is to step back, because I don’t think there’s many communities around the country that invest the amount that we do in the very ways that we do in our kids, and clearly we still have kids slipping through the cracks in this institution. That’s sobering for us all.”

Wilson and Gaskins presented the Board with a draft memo that will start a “rigorous engagement” program to talk with youth and parents to “learn what is at the root of youth trauma and violence, and act.”

Wilson said that it’s been an interesting last several weeks since the fatal stabbing of Alexandria City High School Senior Luis Mejia Hernandez on May 24. He also said that there is no one single solution, but that a coordinated approach on improving students safety is about creating a public process and approach to solving the issue.

“I don’t mean to be negative on this, but I’m doubtful that in this effort we will determine some kind of magic thing that we have never thought of,” Wilson said. “I don’t think we’ll have anything like that. But I think it’ll be a conversation around how we provide services, scale, scope, how we target things, and where the need is, and I hope that as we have that conversation, we’ll learn more about the effectiveness of what we do today, rather than unnecessarily (try) dramatically new things.”

Council will discuss the memo at its meeting tonight (June 14).

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., who announced his resignation last Friday, did not attend the meeting, and is out of the office until June 21.

Board Chair Meagan Alderton said that the Board needs to improve its efforts to inform to community on ACPS activities.

“I agree,” Alderton said. “I do think we need to do a better job as a Board of educating the community about what actually happens in our schools, because I think that could also shift the conversation. People are making guesses all the time. It becomes counterproductive to what we’re actually trying to do. I second that 100%. I think that there’s an educational component to all of this, so that people just know what’s happening.”

Gaskins said that the memo does not specifically outline City departments for certain projects, since it is the duty of the city and its multiple departments to work collaboratively. She also wants there to be a student summit at some point in the near future to discuss coping with the pandemic and violence-related traumas.

“I think it really is a starting point and call to action to give space for us to listen to our young people, hear what they have to say, be able to evaluate what we’re doing, identify the things that we’re not doing and then put in place a plan that we are holding ourselves accountable to,” Gaskins said at the meeting. “I think this is really an opportunity to think about: How do we activate multiple departments? How do we activate and normalize every resource we have available to ensure the health and safety of our young people?”

School Board Member Abdel Elnoubi said he would do everything to help Council in the effort.

“Politicians and and leaders are looked at as good ones when they can articulate and speak, but we really need some time for people how much we should be listening as well,” Elnoubi said. “Thank you so much for doing this. I’m looking forward to seeing how this turns out.”

Former Sheriff Dana Lawhorne watched the meeting from home.

“I’m glad that our City Council and School Board had a robust discussion tonight about the safety and wellbeing of our youth,” Lawhorne said. “I’m encouraged by the plan put forward by Councilwoman Gaskins and Mayor Wilson. We all need to do our part to support it.”

According to a school safety report released in March, 18 ACPS students were arrested in the first two quarters of this school year, in addition to 41 reported fights/assaults and 13 seized weapons. The weapons seized include a gun, five knives, a stun gun, two fake weapons, and pepper spray. Students also filmed dozens of fights and posted them on social media.

At tonight’s meeting, Council will also consider designating former School Board Member Chris Lewis as its designee to the proposed 16-person School Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) Advisory Group. That group will make a recommendation this fall to the interim-Superintendent (or new Superintendent) on the future role of school resource officers at Alexandria City High School and Francis C. Hammond and George Washington Middle Schools.

Separately, Council will also consider passing a gun violence prevention resolution, which encourages the school system to “review school curriculum, safety protocols, and professional development” related to gun safety and suicide prevention, as well as the scheduling of School Board work sessions before the start of the 2022-2023 school year to review those measures.

According to the memo:

In the short-term the Alexandria Police Department will continue its work to investigate recent acts of violence and provide appropriate security interventions to make future acts of violence less likely. To sustainably support the resiliency of our youth and prevent violence, we need to listen as much as we talk. We must engage a diverse range of stakeholders to listen to the experiences of our young people and center their voices, learn what is at the root of youth trauma and violence, and act. With this rigorous engagement, we can design and refine the systems and reforms required to:

  • Address youth trauma and mental health
  • Coordinate across sectors to identify challenges, needs, and opportunities
  • Develop sustainable strategies to align services and existing initiatives
  • Identify metrics and transparent processes to hold ourselves accountable
  • Target investments at identified gaps
  • Prioritize equity
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In the wake of the fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez, the Alexandria City Council is taking an active role in reducing violence in schools, according to a Council memo that will be discussed tonight (June 13).

Up for discussion is the creation of “a citywide, multi-year plan with clear objectives, activities, agency roles and contributions, and performance metrics” by this September, as well as a youth safety and violence prevention summit by the end of July.

The memo was written by Mayor Justin Wilson and Council Member Alyia Gaskins, and will be  in a joint session between Council and the School Board.

“In the aftermath of a spate of recent violence, including the tragic death of Luis Mejia Hernandez on May 24th, it is clear that we must do more to promote youth safety and resilience, prevent youth violence before it occurs, and respond more effectively when we fail to prevent violence,” wrote Wilson and Gaskins. “In the short-term the Alexandria Police Department will continue its work to investigate recent acts of violence and provide appropriate security interventions to make future acts of violence less likely. To sustainably support the resiliency of our youth and prevent violence, we need to listen as much as we talk.”

Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. will not attend the session, which will discuss improving student safety and resilience. Hutchings, who announced his resignation last Friday, is out of the office until June 21.

Wilson and Gaskins wrote that the city needs to collaborate with all of its departments, as well as state agencies to “mobilize all available resources.”

“The City is uniquely positioned to pull together public agencies, local businesses, philanthropy, faith- and community-based partners, parents, youth, and interested community members to reduce youth violence and improve outcomes for our youth and neighborhoods,” Wilson and Gaskins wrote in the memo. “Given the urgency of these issues, it is the expectation that the summit will take place by the end of July and the draft plan come before Council in September.”

Council will also discuss the formation of the 16-person School Law Enforcement Partnership Advisory Group — a controversial Superintendent-led group tasked with reimagining the relationship between ACPS and the Alexandria Police Department. School Resource Officers have been a controversial subject within ACPS since Council briefly defunded them last year.

According to the memo, the City Council and School Board will discuss:

  •  How does ACPS and City work together to identify gaps in systems and process that result in violence and trauma for our youth?
  • What are the expected products of the SLEP Advisory Group and how will they be received and considered?
  • How should ACPS and the City work in partnership to reduce community gun violence and mishaps?

ACPS has wrestled with an increase in violent crime incidents this school year. According to a school safety report released in March, 18 ACPS students were arrested in the first two quarters of this school year, in addition to 41 reported fights/assaults and 13 seized weapons. The weapons seized include a gun, five knives, a stun gun, two fake weapons, and pepper spray.

In his resignation announcement, Hutchings said his role as superintendent limited his ability to speak freely and openly about what school systems need to be more equitable. Earlier this year, he co-authored “Getting Into Good Trouble at School: A Guide to Building an Anti-racist School System” and called for abolishing policing in schools.

In an interview with ALXnow, Police Chief Don Hayes says police are needed in ACPS at this time.

According to the memo:

In the short-term the Alexandria Police Department will continue its work to investigate recent acts of violence and provide appropriate security interventions to make future acts of violence less likely. To sustainably support the resiliency of our youth and prevent violence, we need to listen as much as we talk. We must engage a diverse range of stakeholders to listen to the experiences of our young people and center their voices, learn what is at the root of youth trauma and violence, and act. With this rigorous engagement, we can design and refine the systems and reforms required to:

  • Address youth trauma and mental health
  • Coordinate across sectors to identify challenges, needs, and opportunities
  • Develop sustainable strategies to align services and existing initiatives
  • Identify metrics and transparent processes to hold ourselves accountable
  • Target investments at identified gaps
  • Prioritize equity

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Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. resigned abruptly on Friday morning (June 10).

Hutchings’ resignation comes after a tumultuous few weeks for the school division, following a closed-door session asking the School Board to not talk with the media and about the fatal stabbing death of a student.

The resignation goes into effect August 31.

The following note was sent to ACPS families:

 Message from the ACPS superintendent

It is with a heavy heart that I want to share with you before the end of the school year one of the most difficult decisions of my career. I will be resigning from my position as superintendent of schools at Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) effective August 31, 2022. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the students, staff, families and the Alexandria community since July 2018. I have thoroughly enjoyed my years leading our school division, in which I was raised and educated as a proud member of the Alexandria community. This decision did not come lightly and was prompted by my life’s work to advocate for antiracism in education. I have been proud of what we have accomplished together in bringing forth the very first ACPS strategic plan, Equity For All, that places racial equity at the heart of all our work.

This courageous and bold roadmap compelled me to consider how I can help expand and establish similar initiatives in school systems across the country. It has become my personal imperative and has only been exacerbated by the recent attack on our equity work right here in Virginia. As superintendent, I am limited in my ability to speak freely and openly about this work and assist other school systems to carry out this critical advocacy. It is clear to me that this is the next phase of my career as an educator and the time has come for me to take this leap of faith, expand my reach, and move the needle on racial equity in education. In my four years at ACPS, we have worked collaboratively with our School Board and our ACPS team to realize many significant accomplishments. While I will no longer stand at the helm of ACPS to lead our team, I will continue to support the work and care deeply for our students, staff and families.

In my heart, I know that I will always remain close to ACPS and in the coming months, I will work closely with the School Board to ensure that there is a smooth transition to begin the 2022-23 school year. I have faith in the team that will soon be charged with keeping ACPS moving forward. Thank you for the opportunity to lead this amazing community of educators and to serve as an example to our students, so that they, too, can have their dream job. My hope is that ACPS will continue to develop lifelong learners who will continue to pay it forward; to ACPS and beyond! Sincerely, Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. Superintendent of Schools

A news release from Alexandria City Public Schools said School Board chair Meagan Alderton will appoint an interim superintendent while ACPS conducts a search for a new permanent one.

“Chair Alderton stated that the School Board will appoint an interim superintendent to lead the division while a search for a permanent superintendent is underway,” the release said. “Dr. Hutchings has pledged to work closely with the School Board over the summer to ensure there is a smooth transition in leadership to begin the 2022-23 school year.”

Alderton praised Hutchings’ work at ACPS in the release:

It has been both an honor and a pleasure to work alongside Dr Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. He has led our school division during extremely tumultuous times and, in doing so, has modeled for all of us what it means to lead with vision, integrity, and passion. Alexandria City Public Schools has benefited tremendously from his leadership. As a board, we are sad to see him go, but we wish him the very best in his future endeavors. I have no doubt that we will see him doing great things that will impact public education beyond the boundaries of Alexandria City Public Schools.

Vernon Miles contributed to this story

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The Alexandria School Board conducted a closed-door meeting on Tuesday night (June 7) on changes to their operating procedures including a new rule on talking to the media.

In the two-hour-long session, the Board went over proposed changes to its operating procedures, as well as “Eight Characteristics of Effective School Boards,” a report from the Center for Public Education. The meeting was attended by Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr., Board Chair Meagan Alderton, Vice Chair Jacinta Greene, as well as Members Chris Harris, Willie Bailey, Michelle Rief, Tammy Ignacio, Kelly Carmichael Booz and Ashley Simpson Baird.

One of the changes would require Board Members to provide their colleagues with any written responses to the media. Another stipulates that individual School Board Members must avoid directly communicating with ACPS staff “about Division business.”

In the meeting, Board Member Willie Bailey — who previously said that he will not talk with the media — said that it’s important that School Board Members are all on the same team as part of a strong collaboration of mutual trust.

“I just think that we need to be aware that it’s a team,” Bailey said. “And I’ll say it over and over again. When one person is speaking about something out in the open, I really do believe that that one individual feels that their — they don’t understand that folks out there on the street, the citizens, the students, the parents, they see it as (reflecting the comments of) an entire Board. So, I just think we just need to be cognizant of that and just make sure we understand that we have to work as a team.”

Member Abdel Elnoubi says the proposed change on School Board media relations creates peer pressure against talking with journalists.

“I missed the retreat for being sick,” Elnoubi told ALXnow. “I need to see the changes within context to be able to react to them. In my opinion, any discussions that touch on board members independence and the Board’s authority is a matter of public concern and should be readily available, but the retreats are not live-streamed or recorded (they are open to the public for in-person attendance however) which limits the public’s access to such discussions that occur often in retreats. When there’s no public or media presence which is almost all the time, I feel it creates a whole set of different dynamics and a group/peer pressure type environment.”

The front doors of Alexandria City Public Schools headquarters were locked at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night while the School Board conducted a Board retreat — a public meeting — in a third-floor work room of the ACPS Central Office at 1340 Braddock Place.

ALXnow gained access to the meeting via the building’s underground parking garage, and the Board clerk confirmed that the doors were locked. She said that ALXnow is the only attendee at such meetings, and that security would unlock the doors.

While the meeting was not open to the public, consultant Laurie Cromwell said that the operating procedures make for an effective Board, although it can seem like a “back-assward” form of governance.

Cromwell was on a local school board in Texas from 1999 to 2003, after which she started her consulting firm Foundation Innovation. She has been a meeting facilitator for ACPS for years.

It seems very foreign. I remember my first year when I was on the School Board thinking it was the most back-assward way to try and make decisions. I mean, I really was just completely dumbfounded [by] the restrictions and the limits. And then, fast forward now since 1999, I get it, but it’s really more not about limiting you, it’s about the due process of allowing the community to see what you’re doing. That’s the bottom line — that the community has a right to know how decisions are being made, and if you’re doing it with doors closed for issues that are not private matters, they are not involved in that process.

Elnoubi and Booz have broken ranks numerous times over Board rules to limit members’ unfettered access to the media.

Booz said she was confused about the language and thought that it directed ACPS to send all messages to media to Board Members.

“I understand your confusion and I will inquire about clarifying this line,” Booz said.

After the meeting, Board Member Chris Harris was asked about the proposed change regarding written responses to the media.

“I haven’t looked at it,” Harris said, and was then shown the document. “I have no comment on it.”

The development comes after Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. told the Board not to comment to the media regarding the stabbing death of Alexandria City High School senior Luis Mejia Hernandez.

Hutchings wrote:

Board,

You may receive media inquiries regarding recent events. Please do not speak about the incident. I’ve spoken with our communications team to please refrain from using the term ‘no comment’.

However, please say ‘I will refer this media inquiry to our communications team’ then forward to Julia (Burgos with ACPS communications) and Kathy (Mimberg of ACPS communications). Thanks a million!

Sent from Dr. Hutchings’ iPhone

Elnoubi did not comply and told ALXnow: “I understand that Dr. Hutchings may be worried if we say something, it may be attributed to the division. We don’t work for the division though, we oversee it and we work for the people of Alexandria, we represent The people. As elected officials, we are free to choose how, where and what to communicate with the community, which gets to hold us accountable. In times like these, the community needs to hear from its leaders and policymakers.”

The Board’s operating procedures state that any questions from media related to personnel, student matters, school programs and exceptional/emergency events should be fielded by Board Chair Meagan Alderton and the ACPS communications team. School Board members are discouraged from discussing division-wide topics, but retain the right to talk to the media as individuals.

According to Board’s current operating procedures:

School Board Members retain the right to speak to the media as individuals, but must understand that any comment will likely be interpreted by the public as an officials statement of the Board.

In a March retreat, Hutchings advised the Board to not talk with the media in a refresher for the board on their operating procedures in the wake of a National Review article stating that ACPS engaged in a coverup over an alleged sexual assault last year.

The following month, Hutchings scolded the Board for their edits of a staff report on his plan to create a School Law Enforcement Advisory Group, which will make recommendations for SROs in schools to Hutchings by this fall. Hutchings emailed Board Members that there were legal issues with their making edits outside of a Board meeting and that the edits were “extremely problematic,” “inappropriate,” and “disrespectful.”

School Board Chair Meagan Alderton and Hutchings would not comment on the matter, except by directing all questions to ACPS communications.

ACPS communications staff did not respond to ALXnow’s calls for comment.

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