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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fairfax County Republicans endorse three at-large school board candidates

Members of the Fairfax County Republican Committee last night voted to endorse Sheree Brown-Kaplan, Lin-Dai Kendall, and Lolita Mancheno-Smoak for the three at-large seats on the Fairfax County School Board.

Lin-Dai Kendall, originally from Honduras, runs a home design and remodeling studio from her home in Fairfax Station.

Mancheno-Smoak, of Fairfax Station, teaches business courses at Strayer University and the University of Phoenix and is president of the board of Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect. She emigrated from Ecuador at age 4.

Sheree Brown-Kaplan, a special education advocate and parent volunteer, has already been caught up in an ethical lapse, although she maintains she did nothing wrong.

The board of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs removed Brown-Kaplan as special education chair in an emergency meeting June 30 because she had used her position with the organization to solicit support for her school board campaign. The FCCPTA board gave Brown-Kaplan the opportunity to resign, which she declined.

FCCPTA President Ramona Morrow said the council received five written complaints regarding Brown-Kaplan’s e-mail to potential supporters which stated, “You’ve known me a long time through our work together on special education issues in my role as chair of the [FCCPTA] Special Education Committee.” Brown-Kaplan obtained the e-mail addresses through her work with FCCPTA.

Both the National PTA and Virginia PTA advised the FCCPTA board that Brown-Kaplan “crossed an ethical line with her letter of solicitation for her candidacy to the Fairfax County School Board.” All three organizations have policies against using a PTA position or affiliation to run for public office.

Morrow also expressed concern that Brown-Kaplan’s actions could jeopardize the FCCPTA’s status as a nonprofit 501(3)C organization. IRS rules prohibit those organization from being involved in political campaigns.

“It was pointed out that these letters of complaint could be politically motivated,” Morrow says. “This argument only bolsters the point that the FCCPTA should not and cannot be drawn into a political campaign.”

The Fairfax County Democratic Committee has endorsed three at-large candidates, but one has withdrawn. The committee will meet July 26 to endorse one of the two candidates vying for the open position.

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