Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Michelle Reid named Fairfax County school superintendent

Virginia’s largest school system votes to appoint Michelle Reid as its next principal.

Virginia’s largest school system has elected its next principal.

The school board of Fairfax County, Virginia, elected Michelle Reed by a vote of 9-3 at Thursday’s board meeting. Reid will succeed Dr. Scott Brabrand, whose last day is June 30th. Brabrand announced his plans to step down last summer when he was named executive director of the Virginia Association of School Administrators.

Reed came to Washington, D.C., from the North Shore School District in Bothell, Washington, where she served in the same capacity overseeing the district of 24,000 students.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin begins a search for “divisive concepts” taught in schools and urges parents to report teachers who introduce “divisive topics” in the classroom to an email alert line as she takes over .

She will also be tasked with helping students catch up after the pandemic forced the school to temporarily close, and arrives amid a legal battle between students and parents over admissions policies at the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

Reed’s appointment completes a months-long search that has been criticized in recent days. The Fairfax County NAACP released a six-page letter over the weekend that included the names of two considered finalists for the position — Reed and Cheryl Logan, superintendent of Omaha Public Schools, who have worked in Prince George’s County and Howard County, Maryland.

In a statement updated this week, however, the chapter said Logan withdrew her candidacy before being publicly nominated as a finalist. The statement prompted other organizations to express frustration with the hiring process, saying the board did not solicit enough feedback.

It said the county hired executive search firm GR Recruiting to lead its search and conducted a survey of parents, students and staff and held a series of town hall meetings before screening candidates.

Reed has been the North Shore leader since 2016 and previously served as the leader of the South Kitsap School System in Orchard Harbor, Washington. She was named the 2021 National Superintendent of the Year for her leadership early in the pandemic.

After Reid’s candidacy was publicly revealed, critics said the North Shore School District was not similar to Fairfax County’s student body and questioned the progress of students under her leadership.

The Fairfax NAACP said in its letter that, based on publicly available data, “despite the very small population involved, we see no evidence of closing the achievement gap in the North Shore.”

“We are very concerned about the likelihood of success for a new superintendent without any professional experience in a district of the size and diversity of FCPS,” it added.

The Fairfax County Parents Association has criticized the timing of school closures due to COVID-19 under Reid’s leadership.

On Thursday, some students organized a strike to protest students’ failure to participate in the process.

Atticus Gore, chairman of the county’s Superintendent’s Advisory Committee, said the county has “strong and dedicated candidates who want to share their opinions.”

“When we described our concerns to Dr. Reed, we saw frustration and anger among some of our peers who didn’t understand why Fairfax County would even consider a candidate with such a track record and experience,” Gore Say.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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