In November, Fairfax County voters will choose 12 school board members to serve four-year terms starting Jan. 1, 2024. Nineteen candidates are running for the nine magisterial district seats. There are also three at-large seats in the November election. Virginia's School board elections are nonpartisan, meaning that party affiliations can not appear on the ballots for school board candidates. Nevertheless, parties may publicly endorse their candidates.
Candidates were asked to provide a short bio and share a story of their interaction with a voter that led them to a commitment to take action, with a tight word limit. Candidate responses are printed in the order they appear on the ballot.
For information on how and where to vote, including voting early, see https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/
More than 30,900 Fairfax County voters have already voted, out of more than 714,000 active voters on the rolls. More than 680,000 voters have yet to vote.
Robyn Lady, Candidate for Member of School Board, Dranesville District, was an FCPS counselor for 27 years and began her work at George C. Marshall, Thomas Jefferson, and McLean High Schools. She retired as Chantilly High School's Director of Student Services after 15 years of working with counselors to help students achieve academically, professionally, emotionally, and socially. Lady attended Fairfax Public Schools and earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from William & Mary and a master's in counselor education from the University of Virginia. Lady's mental health services expertise and experience have prepared her to serve at this most critical time.
Response: A father of two graduates shared his experience with IEP meetings and how they were not what he expected. While aware of the demands on faculty time, he felt the meetings were too scripted and too efficient. He wanted a more in-depth discussion of his child’s learning differences, specific goals, and accommodations. Both children are twice-exceptional (2e) students, an area where we need additional teacher training. Twice-exceptional students exhibit characteristics of gifted students with the potential for high achievement and show evidence of one or more disabilities as defined by eligibility criteria. We must encourage and support 2E students' access to advanced academic programming (AAP) in FCPS.
While we would love to provide collaborative support in honors, AP, IB, and DE courses, we do not have the staffing to meet the demand. An underlying issue that must be addressed is the teacher shortage and turnover, particularly in special education.
If elected, I will advocate for adding a 2e specialist position in our schools. Another idea would be to create Strategies for Success classes designed explicitly for 2e students. We must work with students, parents and teachers to develop appropriate accommodations and better support students with their advanced coursework. https://www.robynlady.com
Paul M. Bartkowski
Paul M. Bartkowski, Candidate for Member of School Board, Dranesville District. I am a parent of three children that attend Fairfax County Public Schools (although we are homeschooling our youngest, a sixth grader, this year). I am also a lawyer and have a firm based in McLean. I specialize in intellectual property litigation but am also very interested in legal issues related to the school board and schools. Before becoming a lawyer, I obtained a B.S. in chemical engineering from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. I believe my math and science background, legal training, and, most importantly, my experience as a parent uniquely qualify me to help the board navigate away from political agendas and right our course toward academic excellence.
Response: In discussing my campaign platform of (1) re-focusing on academic excellence and achievement, (2) removing political agendas from the curriculum, and (3) respecting the rights of parents regarding education with an acquaintance from my kids’ summer swim team, he said he did not know of those issues. I understood him to be politely telling me that he disagreed with my position. But he returned a few days later and told me he looked into the issues and agreed 100 percent.
His position on the issues was crystallized by his disagreement with the School Board’s move away from admitting students to Thomas Jefferson based purely on merit and by the School Board’s clear motivation to make that move to have fewer Asian-American students at that school.
His passion for that issue and his common-sense agreement that the school board should prioritize academic achievement over its preferred political policies and agendas re-invigorated me to pursue my campaign goals with passion and without compromise. We owe it to the students to do what we can to allow them to achieve their full academic potential. https://paulforfcsb.com/
Endorsed by Fairfax County GOP
Hunter Mill District
Harry Randall Jackson
Harry Randall Jackson, Candidate for Member of School Board, Hunter Mill District, earned a Doctorate in Strategic Security from Henley-Putnam University, a Master of Science from National Defense University, and a Master of Arts from the U.S. Naval War College, graduating with a degree in general engineering in 1999. He was the first Black student from Lancaster County to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. There, he earned a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering.
Jackson is a former naval intelligence officer and the parent of a student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. He has been president of the school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Association and held leadership positions with Parents Defending Education and the Black Student Fund. Jackson is the first African American to be named president of the TJPTSA and has extensive experience in education, program management, acquisition, and cybersecurity. Jackson has held leadership positions, including Parents Defending Education, Coalition For TJ, and the Black Student Fund. Dr. Jackson is uniquely qualified to address racial achievement gaps with solutions that do not require additional income taxes, promote education access opportunities, and leverage public-private partnerships.
Response: A former school board member raised one issue: child pornography and pedophilia have no place in our school libraries. It is essential to oppose any form of child exploitation and protect our children from harm. School libraries are meant to be safe spaces to learn, explore and grow. Encouraging or allowing such materials in school libraries sends a dangerous message that the school system tolerates criminal activity, which is entirely unacceptable.
Therefore, school authorities, parents, and communities must work together to ensure that school libraries are free from content promoting child pornography or pedophilia. Education, awareness, and strict enforcement of the law are essential tools in the fight against these abhorrent crimes and the protection of our children. Restoring Excellence: Harry Jackson for School Board
Endorsed by Fairfax County GOP
Melanie K. Meren
Melanie K. Meren, 45, Candidate for Member of School Board, Hunter Mill District. I am the current Hunter Mill School Board Representative (2019–2023). After earning my Masters in Public Policy from Duke University in 2002, I began my dream job at the U.S. Department of Education when the No Child Left Behind education law began. I worked in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, specializing in early childhood literacy and programs for students served by Title I, those facing the most disadvantages. Since then, my career has focused on sustaining the promise of successful public education in America.
Response: Strong schools make a strong community, and I’ve held a lifelong record of promoting public education. In my first term on the Fairfax County school board, I helped bring about these results: Equitable Access to Literacy instructional plan; outdoor learning in all schools via $6 million in state funds; studies about the instruction of advanced academics, twice-exceptional (“2e”) learners, and special education; the 2021 National Superintendent of the Year, in 2022; workforce retention via compensation increases; and policies to support librarians, promote equity and safety, and mitigate climate change.
I have the skills to perform the Hunter Mill School Board Member job with integrity and results. Strong schools make a strong community. Students, families, staff, and residents deserve to be represented by an experienced public servant who ensures access to opportunities for all students to fulfill their destinies for success, strengthens policy about the use of public resources, and fosters trust, civility, and respect during a turbulent time in American democracy. https://melaniemeren.com/ Endorsed by Fairfax County Democrats
Ricardy Anderson, 51, Candidate and incumbent for Member of School Board, Mason District: My education career began nearly 30 years ago when I secured my first job as an elementary school teacher. I have been serving as an educator for over 23 years, both as a teacher and principal at the elementary and middle school levels and as a central office administrator. I am a parent of two and the only candidate in the Mason District School Board race with children attending Fairfax County Public Schools. I served as Chair of the Fairfax School Board from July 2020 to July 2021, during one of the most tumultuous times in our county.
Response: I serve on the school board to represent the Mason District and elevate matters of import to its constituency. I have championed numerous issues directly based on community advocacy. Establishing recess for middle school students, adjusting school boundary zones, supporting the allocation of resources for trauma-informed practices, and revising the compensation package for family liaisons are issues on my agenda that stemmed directly from community demand.
At times, input is provided through structured opportunities such as community events or my monthly Mason District Roundtable meetings. Other issues arise from informal avenues such as emails or conversations at an athletic event. The common thread is that each of these issues is urgent to its champion, and each deserves and receives my full attention, resulting in additional research, data mining, and collaborative discussions with staff and colleagues to be actualized.
In the upcoming term, I hope to continue addressing persistent performance gaps and increasing student access by expanding advanced academic opportunities in our middle schools. Another priority is to support efforts to recruit and retain teachers amid the current teacher shortage crisis through competitive compensation and innovative methods to decrease teacher workload. https://ricardyanderson.com/
Kristin F. Ball
Kristin F. Ball, Candidate School Board, Mason District. She is a mother and a former college professor with a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Oklahoma. Her 27 years of college-level teaching have given her a unique perspective, as college students are the reflection of their K-12 education. She has lived in the Mason district for 11 years, was active in her community as a bench parent for her son's little league team, and is the chair of the Stars & Stripes NOVA Committee that serves veterans and first responders.
Response: Every Thursday, I have a table at the Annandale Farmers Market to meet with people in the Mason District as I campaign for the school board. A father and his two children came to talk to me one early summer morning.
The father told me that his daughter, in the 6th grade, had been assigned to read the book The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. He said his daughter had nightmares ever since reading the book. Naturally, he was concerned that a teacher would assign a book that would cause such reactions.
I took his concerns to heart but wanted to investigate for myself. I bought the book and read it so I could have a more informed understanding of the book.
Having read the book, I can see some of his concerns. However, the book depicts the life of an African-American family in the early 1960s. It illustrates what life was like for them as they lived in Flint, MI, and their visit to Birmingham, AL.
There are instances of bullying and kids getting into fistfights. But the story can be helpful if a teacher talks about how those scenes illustrate the characters' sense of family and friendship. It is typically assigned to 6th-grade students.
This encounter with a voter illustrates my commitment to hearing the people's concerns in the Mason District and learning what I can before making an informed decision.
In this case, I am sorry that the student had nightmares. I hope her parents can explain to their daughter how their family interactions are similar and different. When discussing issues that constituents have with books, we need to be sure that we are considering the book's content, its purpose for use in the classroom, and its effects on the child reading it.
Decisions about books should never be made with a knee-jerk reaction to ban or keep.
ElectKristinBall.com Endorsed by Fairfax County GOP
Karl V. Frisch
Karl Frisch, candidate and incumbent for School Board Providence District, a 45-year-old accomplished non-profit executive and award-winning public policy expert, who previously worked for the Rules Committee in Congress, most recently served as the director of a consumer protection group that assisted underprivileged Americans who were victims of predatory lenders, dishonest student loan processors, and other financial con artists. On the County School Board, he has delivered for parents, teachers, and students, championing efforts to address learning loss, close achievement and opportunity gaps, attract and retain world-class educators with increased pay, and ensuring all students have safe and inclusive schools.
Response: While knocking on doors early in my 2019 school board campaign, I met a mother in Mantua who told me how worried she was about school shootings and how it seemed our leaders were not doing enough to address the issue.
As we talked, I became convinced that every level of government plays a role in gun violence prevention. Before leaving, I committed to her that if I were elected, I would do everything I could to ensure our school system aggressively addressed this threat.
Over the past four years, I have worked hard with my colleagues to keep that promise. Here are two examples: I co-sponsored the measure to notify parents annually about their legal obligation to securely store their guns, which is important since many gun owners do not securely store their firearms, and school shooters usually get their weapons from family members’ homes.
Until 2021, Virginia law did not allow gun bans at non-instructional school system buildings—places like Gatehouse, where no formal instruction occurs but is filled with educators and frequented by students and parents. After the law changed, I sponsored the policy that successfully extended our school gun ban to all school system properties. https://www.karlfrisch.com/
Anthony A. "Tony" Sabio
Anthony A. "Tony" Sabio, - Candidate for Member of School Board, Providence District. No reply.
Sabio4fairfax.com Endorsed by Fairfax County GOP
Cynthia L. Walsh
Cynthia L. Walsh, 54, candidate for Member of School Board, Sully District, former Fort Belvoir FOIA officer, earned an English literature degree from Juniata College. She volunteered with The Autism Community in Action and wrote “Breaking the Autism Code” (2017).
Response: My first school board meeting was a day I will never forget. I went to pray for students, parents, and teachers. Instead, I found a mother urgently asking about the current school board to remove obscene library books found in her local school library.
She read those books out loud. The books contained explicit sexual scenes with full graphic genitalia, masturbation, and pornography, so I was horrified that anyone would think they were suitable for children. My reading the books and researching made the issue urgent.
I propose requiring warning labels for sexual content, violence, profanity, and racist, hateful language. Since Fairfax public schools are very different from one another, I would do an inventory of which books are in which library. I would offer a synopsis or summary of the books in question for parents to decide.
It would be very clear to parents to identify the books because the media has distorted the message about completely different books. They tell parents that "book banning week" is about books like To Kill a Mockingbird" or "Animal Farm." These are not the same books, and the reasons they would be banned are not what I am talking about.
One book parents object to, not just for the sexual content but for the violence, is Gender Queer. Parents think it's transphobic. Gender Queer addresses puberty in a violent way.
I also found extremely racist words, profanity, and violence. Examples of these books are "Assassination Classroom" and "Beloved." The Assassination Classroom is a book about how to kill a teacher; Beloved used the N-word 37 times. As I talk to parents, informing them and correcting the information is only step one. www.electcynthiawalsh.com Endorsed by Fairfax County GOP
Seema Dixit, Candidate for Member of School Board, Sully District - I'm eager to represent you on the Fairfax County School Board, Sully District. My roots in Centreville date back to 2004, and I'm the proud mother of two FCPS students. As a small business owner, I understand the importance of a strong education system for our community's future. My commitment to education extends beyond the classroom.
I've been deeply involved in our school community, serving on the executive PTA boards of Bull Run ES, Rocky Run MS, and Centreville HS. Additionally, I co-founded the Women Empowerment Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to uplifting women and young girls facing challenging circumstances like domestic abuse and violence in our local community.
Response: My campaign centers on equity, excellence, and student support. Our children deserve the best resources and opportunities to prepare them for success in the real world. If elected, I will prioritize expanding comprehensive tutoring services and collaborating with our community to enhance STEM programs. Furthermore, I advocate for improved access to counseling services to support our students' mental and emotional well-being. email@example.com