School Board Meets to Discuss Proclamations, Denied FOIA Requests, Virtual Loudoun Elementary, Board of Directors

On April 25, the School Board answered the questions surrounding the denied FOIA requests, the idea of reinstating Virtual Loudoun Elementary, updates on nutrition funds, and policy revisions.


Amelia Chen

The School Board, devoted to ensuring the education of all LCPS students, in person or online, made an effort to reinstate the Virtual Loudoun Elementary option at their April 25 meeting.

On April 25, the LCPS School Board held their fourth Tuesday meeting to go over the possible reintroduction of Virtual Loudoun Elementary, consolidated several proclamations and revisions to policies, answered questions the community had about denied FOIA requests, and explained the School Board and Board of Directors meeting as well as the school nutrition funds in regards to the School Breakfast Program. 

Virtual Loudoun Elementary

Since its creation, the Virtual Loudoun Elementary program has been highly effective in teaching students online. No learning model like it had been used prior to COVID, and the data shows that this program was truly helping students achieve their goals online. However, the school board did not include it in their FY24 budget. 

By popular demand, and by demand of the current stakeholders, it is clear that LCPS needs this program and it should be valued. Another driving factor in the push for the program is the fact that there are no other similar programs that teach as well as Virtual Loudoun Elementary.  

The school board moved to try and reintroduce the program by trying to compile more data and make an informed decision on whether or not bringing back the program is a good idea.

Denied FOIA information

Students who attempt to obtain data from other students for analysis often use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to try and get more “confidential” information, such as test scores or past student records. Recently, the school board has been called out for being not transparent enough in their reasoning for denying students access to such information, even under FOIA. 

The school board claimed that they cannot allow showing test scores because of personally identifiable information tied to them. The board also said that under FOIA itself, scholastic records are exempt from FOIA as well as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which say that LCPS is responsible for protecting students’ personally identifiable information, even from being released via school records and FOIA. 

Not only this, but FERPA and FOIA both state that scholastic records, whether or not they have the student’s name redacted, still may hold personal information with regards to that student and therefore exempts it from mandatory viewing if students asked for it. 

Policy Revisions

The school board revised two older policies and is gearing up to accept the creation of a new one this meeting. The new policy, policy 8440, deals with student-athletes and sudden cardiac arrest. It states that if a student-athlete is experiencing symptoms that could lead to a cardiac arrest, they should be removed from play immediately. 

The other two policies that were revised were policy 8640 and policy 3070. Both were changed with regards to the Special Grand Jury Investigation on Scott Zeigler.  Policy 8640 was about the disclosure of student personally identifiable information and other education records, and  was revised with better wording and clarity. Policy 3070 pertained to safety and emergency related communications, and was revised due to several recommendations from the LCPS legal team. 

Mental Health Awareness Month and National Fentanyl Awareness and Prevention Day proclamations

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that  rates of depression and anxiety in children in the U.S. from ages three to 17 increased 29 percent in the last four years. To help combat this, LCPS strives to acknowledge mental illnesses in children, encourage treatment for mental illness in kids, and overcome the stigma surrounding mental help and reaching out most of all. They are doing this by proclaiming the month of March as the Mental Health Awareness month. 

To combat the use and instruct students on the dangers of fentanyl, LCPS adopted the proclamation that May 9 will be the National Fentanyl Awareness and Prevention day. This will be the second annual one as the outbreak in Fentanyl in young kids, primarily teenagers, has only begun to grow. 

School Nutrition Funds and the Annual Plan for Special Education and Application for Federal Funds

The Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) had the 2023-2024 annual plan presented to them for feedback, and was passed through with the requirements that it must include school-aged funding, proportionate share calculations, and early childhood special education funding. Not only this, but the plan provides LCPS a total of $13 million to help pay for all the needs of LCPS special education students. 

The School Board brought up how it was entitled to receive $559,770 from the Commonwealth of Virginia and how those funds must be accredited to the School Nutrition Program and may not be used for any other purpose. This money was given to improve lunches, but also greatly enhance participation in the School Breakfast Program. 

This will be discussed by the Board further in the May 9 meeting as an action item unless otherwise directed.

The next School Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 9.