Lisa Fagan, one of two candidates seeking support from the Fairfax County Republican Committee to run to an at-large school board seat, wants to build on her extensive experience as an advocate for children with disabilities to help all FCPS students.
The other candidate is Lolita Mancheno-Smoak, an adjunct professor at Strayer University and the University of Phoenix and president of the board of Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect. Six other people running for at-large positions on the school board are seeking endorsement from the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.
As an education advocate with a small consulting firm called Special Education Connections, Fagan advises parents of their rights and makes sure their children get the services they need. She has also chaired the Fairfax County Public Schools Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities and served on the Fairfax County Disability Service Board. She also has been involved with the Herndon High School PTSA and Herndon Middle School PTA.
“Through my work as an advocate for kids with disabilities, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work,” says Fagan, who is planning what she calls her “first foray into politics.”
All three of Fagan’s children have had individualized education programs (IEPs), which provide a framework for services to meet a child’s special needs. Her oldest child, now in college, has significant learning disabilities, and the youngest has autism and learning disabilities, she says.
Fagan would like to give high school students interested pursuing employment after graduation to have more opportunities to participate in FPCS’s adult education courses and technical courses provided in the high school academies. “Fairfax County does a good job of preparing our kids for college. However, we fall short in preparing those children for whom college is not an option or not a desire,” she says.
Fagan believes FCPS teachers should be better compensated, and she wants to make sure FCPS is using its money appropriately and wants to improve communication among parents, schools, the school board, and the administration. “We need to find common ground on divisive issues,” she says.
Noting that some programs that have been funded have not been implemented effectively or at all, Fagan says these programs should be reviewed to determine whether they are needed, and if they are, how they can be made available to all schools.