Office of Civil Rights Opens Investigation; FCPS Threatens to Call Attendance Officer if Parent Doesn’t Choose FCPS “Options”

The United States Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has opened another investigation into Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS).

OCR Investigation

September 13, 2021, OCR issued a notification letter to the parent who submitted a complaint related to retaliation and discrimination.

As cited in the discrimination complaint in OCR’s notification letter, the parent alleges that FCPS discriminated against her children “on the basis of your present complaint to OCR by denying them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) when it failed to enroll them in the virtual learning instruction option for the 2021/2022 school year, despite their medical condition.”

Click on the image below to view the OCR Notification Letter in full.


August 17, 2021:

FCPS emailed the parent, in response to parent’s request for virtual school for both of her children. The parent was advised the following:

“At this time the FCPS Virtual School is closed to new applicants.  If your children have a new medical condition and would like to be considered for homebound services I have included our school social worker Jo Thompson on this communication to help you navigate that process.”

The same day, the parent contacted the social worker, provided two letters from her children’s doctor, and asked about the process moving forward.

Click on the image below to view the email in full.

August 18, 2021: The social worker contacted the parent and thanked her for “reaching out about medical homebound services” — even though the parent had reached out to the social worker about virtual instruction and said she thought it made more sense than homebound.

August 19, 2021:

The parent sent emails to procedural support liaisons,

August 20, 2021:

FCPS Procedural Support Liaison Carolyn Edner advised the parent that “enrollment in the virtual school program is closed, at this time. .  If your children have a new medical condition, and you would like for them to be considered for homebound services, please work with REDACTED, the social worker so she can provide you with needed paperwork for the process.”

The parent filed a complaint with the USDOE OCR and made FCPS aware that she filed a complaint with OCR.

August 22 to August 31, 2021:

The parent emailed FCPS, Superintendent Scott Brabrand, Fairfax County School Board Members and continued to expressed her concerns and ask for help.

August 27, 2021:

The parent submitted a FOIA request to FCPS, requesting enrollment information about FCPS’s virtual learning program.

August 31, 2021:

FCPS FOIA Officer Molly Shannon responded to the parent:

As of Friday, August 27, 2021 there were 215 students in the FCPS Virtual Program Elementary.  That includes 10 students in preschool and 205 students in grades K-6.

September 8, 2021:

The parent submitted another FOIA request to FCPS. This time she requested:

Can you please tell me how many kids are enrolled in FCPS Virtual in 3rd and 5th grade?

Also, how many FCPS K-6 children are enrolled in Virtual Virginia?

September 14:

FCPS FOIA Officer Molly Shannon responded to the parent: FCPS Virtual Program Elementary currently has 29 students in grade 3 and 35 students in grade 5. FCPS does not have record of Virtual Virginia enrollment for enrolled FCPS students K-6.

September 27, 2021:

FCPS Region 4 Assistant Superintendent Penny Gross emailed the parent the following:

“We will have no choice but to contact the attendance officer for the [REDACTED] Pyramid if your children do not begin attending school, or if we do not have the necessary paperwork related to one of these options by Monday, October 4th.”

The options Penny provided the parent for the 2021-22 school year follow below. The link in Option 2, which is the option the parent is trying to have approved, is a bad link.

The very assistant superintendent who threatened to call the attendance officer failed to provide the parent the very information she needed to apply for the virtual program.

1. They may begin attending [REDACTED] in person immediately.

2. You can return the virtual program application, completed in all aspects, as soon as possible for consideration.  Submission of the completed application does not, however, guarantee admission into that program, as it will need to be reviewed with reference to program criteria.

3. Homebound instruction – This was previously communicated via the school social worker and also has criteria associated with approval.

4. Homeschool instruction –

5. You may choose to enroll your children in a private or parochial program.

Click on the image below to view the email in full.

Click on the image below to view screen shot at a larger size.

That the same day, the parent responded to Assistant Principal Penny Gross and advised that she had been following the school’s curriculum from home. She reminded Penny, too, that she had provided FCPS documentation from her children’s pediatric cardiologist.

The parent then sent a separate email asking for a medical transfer, without delay, to Virtual Virginia “if FCPS does not want to provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA in FCPS Virtual”.

September 28, 2021:

Assistant Superintendent Penny Gros emailed the parent and stated:

Thank you for your reply.  Your children need to be in school.  I stand ready to send your appeal for the virtual program forward but we must have the completed virtual application as I outlined below. We did not receive an application prior to the May 28th deadline.  Any students considered after the deadline also had to submit the application in full.

Remember: the “completed virtual application as [Penny] outlined below” goes to a bad link, making it impossible for the parent to complete the application as “outlined below.” )As of 10.6.21, the day this article was published, the link was still bad.)

The parent responded to the assistant principal the same day and noted 1) the COVID outbreaks in FCPS, 2) the many times the parent had contacted FCPS and her contact went unanswered, and 3) she again stated that she was following the school’s curriculum from home. She cc’d Superintendent Scott Brabrand and Fairfax County School Board members.

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