Fairfax County Public Schools FOIA Responses & Other Stuff

Although many of the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) records shared here were obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) responses, some of the records shared were provided to Special Education Action via readers and/or FCPS's own carelessness. For example, FCPS provided the "Hot Topics" record in response to a parent's FERPA request, but neglected to redact the record before sharing it.

What’s New in Fairfax County Public Schools? Legal Invoices, Court Cases, Noncompliance, Closed Meeting Minutes, Toxic Emails, and the Failure to Secure the Privacy of 35,000+ Students

What’s New in Fairfax County Public Schools? Legal Invoices, Court Cases, Noncompliance, Closed Meeting Minutes, Toxic Emails, and the Failure to Secure the Privacy of 35,000+ Students Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) included unredacted records for over 35,000 students within…

FCPS FOIA Response: How FCPS Ascertains the Prevailing rate for IEE Assessments and Written Guidelines for Independent Education Evaluations

In 2019, a Fairfax County Public Schools parent submitted a FOIA request for “Information on how FCPS ascertained the prevailing rate for IEE assessments within the Washington DC metro area as written on your Guidelines for Independent Education Evaluations.”
FCPS COVID-19 Compensatory Education Update FOIA Response

FCPS FOIA Response: “COVID-19 Compensatory Education Update” and “COVID-19 Compensatory Education Service Delivery Models”

June 13, 2023, Michelle Boyd, FCPS’ former Assistant Superintendent, Department of Special Services, spoke at the monthly Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities meeting and stated Office for Civil Rights provided FCPS additional guidance. Boyd stated she would be releasing it to principals either that night or the next day, in addition to sending it to ACSD members. 

A FOIA request was submitted to obtain the guidance document. After receiving Boyd’s June 14, 2023, guidance email to FCPS staff, another FOIA request was submitted, to obtain access to documents hyperlinked within Boyd’s email.

FOIA Release: Fairfax County Public Schools “Determining Compensatory Education Training Development” Training Videos and Materials Required by Office for Civil Rights

February 10, 2023: Article first published. February 22, 2023: Article updated to include second training video and transcript (see below). *At about the 20-minute mark of the second video below, Dawn Schaefer mentions that one of the points of contact within FCPS is the ombudsman’s office. Not long ago, Kathy Murphy was announced as FCPS’s new “ombuds”. Previously, Kathy was FCPS’s Section 504 expert, in the same office as Dawn and Dawn’s predecessor Jane Strong. Kathy’s name is all over records FCPS provided to OCR for its investigation and seems to have been FCPS’s contact with OCR. In addition, after OCR made its investigation public, Kathy filed a FOIA request with the U.S. Dept. of Education to obtain, among other thing, information on any parents who might have submitted OCR complaints. Jane left the county, Dawn stepped into Jane’s job, and then Kathy disappeared as the 504 Plan expert, only to reappear later as the ombuds.

Office for Civil Rights found Fairfax County Public Schools in massive noncompliance for denial of FAPE during April 2020 through June 2022.
Following its investigation, OCR entered into a resolution agreement with FCPS. As part of the agreement, FCPS is required to meet with families of the 28,000+ students who were enrolled in FCPS during the time period investigated, to determine compensatory education.

In this article, you’ll be able to access some of the training materials and one of the training videos FCPS provided to staff.

VFOIA-6763 Response: FCPS’s Recovery Services and/or Comp Ed Records and Practices

October 21, 2022, I submitted a Freedom of Information request (FOIA) to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). The request was for the following:

1) any forms, letters, or documentation that address FCPS advising parents to pick their own recovery services and/or comp ed provider

2) any forms, letters, or documentation that address FCPS advising parents FCPS will reimburse parents for recovery services and/or comp ed.

3) any forms, letters, or documentation that address FCPS capping the service provider payment amount to a certain amount of dollars per hour and/or per service.

I know the above has already been provided to parents. I’m not asking for their educational records.

I know FCPS has internal records and form letters it developed.

I know that responsive records that are not also educational records exist.

This should include but not be limited to any training materials, slides, videos, presentations, too.

UPDATE: Fairfax County Public Schools FOIA’d Parents’ Communications with Office of Civil Rights

Fairfax County Public Schools submitted an expedited FOIA request for parents’ communication with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, just a week after OCR sent FCPS clarifying information about its investigation of FCPS.

FOIA Response: More Internal Emails Provided, More Proof FCPS is Aware of Problems with Independent Educational Evaluation Rates and Other Issues

July 26, 2022, Fairfax County Public Schools provided its response to another FOIA request, this one focused on staff correspondence over a few days in May 2022.

For the limited time covered, the FOIA response includes significant information related to the hot-button issue of FCPS’s below-market Independent Educational Evaluation rates.

Although numerous parents through the years have complained to FCPS and/or have filed state complaints about the rates, FCPS has refused to change the rates.

Yet . . . It looks like FCPS has known for years that the rates are a problem.

FOIA Response: Records FCPS Provided to Office of Civil Rights for OCR’s COVID Investigation

January 2021, the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights launched an investigation into Fairfax County Public Schools, for civil rights violations related to the COVID pandemic.

A FOIA request was made for all of the records FCPS provided to OCR for the investigation. In response to the request, FCPS refused to provide the records within the mandated timeline, filed a lawsuit related to the request, and to date has refused to respond to subsequent requests for records and to questions about records responsive to the request.

Over a period of about a month, FCPS provided the records published here.

Freedom of Information Act

FOIA: Fairfax County Public Schools Independent Educational Evaluations

Update: This article was published July 2020. It is being updated to include an email indicating Fairfax County Public Schools has long known that its price cap for Independent Educational Evaluations is below market price. FCPS’s low rate limits parents to 1) using private providers who accept FCPS’s low IEE rate or 2) paying the difference out of pocket for providers who don’t accept FCPS’s low rate. The email was obtained via a FOIA request for documents FCPS provided the Office of Civil Rights.

This FOIA request was done in 2018 and was submitted to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) in Virginia.

The response includes 528 pages, including how FCPS set its “rates” and letters to providers asking if they’ll accept FCPS rates.

Fairfax County Public Schools Leadership Team Annual Employment Contracts

Employment contracts for Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) leadership team were released today. FCPS released them in response to a FOIA request submitted by parent Debra Tisler — and then turned around and attempted to recall the response.

The contracts provided to her today include information that should be publicly available as it details the terms of contracts for FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand and numerous other “leadership team” members who are responsible for the education of Fairfax County’s students and the running of its school system.

Fairfax County School Board’s Legal Fees for Prior Restraint Lawsuit Against Parents Now Expected to Exceed $300,000

“What we’re doing here is — what the defendants are doing is enforcing their rights under the First Amendment, and those rights, enforcing their rights under the First Amendment, is about as high in the public interest scale as you can get.”

~Judge Richard E. Gardiner

November 16, 2021, Judge Richard E. Gardiner ruled that a Fairfax County School Board’s (FCSB) lawsuit against two parents was “about as much a prior restraint as there ever could be” and he characterized one of the Board’s arguments as “almost frivolous.”

As legal fees continue to roll in, the total spent by FCSB now is expected to exceed $300,000.

The irony of the FCSB wasting $200,000+ of taxpayer funds to sue two taxpayers who dared to expose wasteful spending is impossible to ignore.

Fairfax County School Board Spent over $115,000 on a lawsuit it tried to make disappear

Fairfax County School Board Spent Over $115,000 on Lawsuit it Tried to Make Disappear; More Legal Invoices to Come

In a period of just two weeks, between September 16 and September 30, 2021, Fairfax County School Board (FCSB) racked up legal fees of $116,001.42 with law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, in relation to one lawsuit that later it tried to make disappear. Matters related to the lawsuit continued into December, to include two hearings and a nonsuit, so the final bill is expected to be in excess of $200,000.

The lawsuit was filed against me and another FCPS (Fairfax County Public Schools) parent after this site published some of FCPS’s legal invoices. The published invoices were obtained legally after FCPS released 1,316 pages as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) response. FCPS later tried to claw back the documents after being made aware it released documents damaging to its reputation. When that didn’t work, FCSB filed a lawsuit.