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Monday, June 9, 2014

Stuart HS community unhappy with school's leadership

Stuart High School
There is growing concern among parents and community members about what they see as inadequate  leadership and declining morale at JEB Stuart High Schoolalong with frustration that neither Stuart Principal Prosperanta Calhoun nor the FCPS leadership have satisfactorily responded to the complaints.

The school got low rankings compared to other Fairfax County high schools on a recent survey of working conditions. In particular, Stuart ranked dead last on many questions in the section on school leadership.

Only 25 percent of Stuart educators agreed that the school leadership is effective, only 23 percent agreed “there is an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect,” 26 percent believe the school leadership consistently supports teachers, and 37 percent agreed that “overall, my school is a good place to work and learn.”

Members of the Stuart community report that large numbers of teachers have left Stuart in recent months. In addition, people who live near Stuart have complained that Calhoun was slow to address vandalism problems in the area caused by students.
         
There have been several meetings within the school community in recent weeks to discuss the future of Stuart.

“Parents believe Stuart needs new and strong leadership,” says Del. Kaye Kory, who attended an informal community gathering last week. “At this point, it doesn’t matter how good [Calhoun] is, she has lost the confidence of the staff and parents.”

Participants at that meeting agreed to write letters to Superintendent Karen Garza and Mason school board member Sandy Evans urging immediate intervention by FCPS to ensure a fully qualified and complete staff is in place for next fall. They call for more resources to serve the needs of at-risk students, a long-term plan for meaningful improvement, and frequent monitoring and visible support from FCPS.

One letter from a parent to Garza expresses “deep dismay and utter frustration with what is happening at Stuart” and says she is trying to decide whether her child, a rising ninth-grader, should stay at FCPS “in light of the crisis at Stuart.”

The letter asks Garza to “ensure public accountability by establishing a robust plan for ongoing communication about the steps being taken to address the problems at Stuart, especially as they relate to leadership, student discipline, the achievement gap, and teacher morale.”

The officers of the Ravenwood Park Citizens Association sent a letter to Garza and Evans June 4 requesting “a significant commitment from FCPS” to address the situation at Stuart.

“We believe that strong schools are a key part of a healthy community,” the letter states. RPCA expresses concerns that declining SOL scores and graduation rates at Stuart mean many students are not prepared for college or careers and urges the FCPS administration to address the school’s poor leadership.

The problems at Stuart are particularly galling since just a few years ago, the school got national attention for making gains in student achievement despite a student body with high percentages of low-income students. In 2005, then-principal Mel Riddile was named  National High School Principal of the Year.

“For a school that received so much recognition just a few years ago, it is amazing how fast a school can fall with poor leadership,” one parent said. Calhoun was named principal in June 2012.

An education column in the Washington Post by Jay Matthews last month recounts how FCPS administrators under former Superintendent Jack Dale eliminated an innovative math program at Stuart that led to high student achievement because the district could no longer afford it.

Kory, a former member of the FCPS school board wrote in the Falls Church News-Press, “I protested then and still agree with the characterization by former Stuart teacher, Stu Singer, that this was ‘education malpractice that can only be described as unconscionable.’” Kory calls for the General Assembly and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to provide more funding for education and urges the school board to direct more resources to the neediest schools.

The FCPS leadership finally responded to parents on June 9, when Cluster 3 Assistant Superintendent Douglas Tyson sent an email stating, “I remain committed to increasing collaboration between the school and the community to correct the specific areas of concern highlighted in the working conditions survey.”

“FCPS is fully committed, from the superintendent through the ranks, in support of the administrative team at Stuart High School,” Tyson says, noting that a retired principal, Bruce Butler, was brought in a few months ago to serve as mentor principal, and Shannon Tully was named a mentor director of student services.

“In addition,” he says in the email, “FCPS increased the security presence at the school, provided additional guidance to the school’s administrative team in developing next year’s master schedule, provided guidance and support in the recruitment and retention of teachers at the school, and offered flexibility to administrators to manage the school day, as needed for the advancement of student achievement.”

According to Tyson, the article in the Washington Post “unfortunately reinforced a number of negative stereotypes about the school which has caused a great deal of concern within the community.”

Tyson noted that Stuart “consistently ranks in the top 5 percent of schools in the country in the Post’s Challenge Index” developed by Matthews. Stuart students posted the highest gains on the 2013 SAT test among all FCPS schools, Stuart’s ACT scores increased in 2013, and Stuart awards the fourth-largest number of IB (International Baccalaureate) diplomas among FCPS schools.

Meanwhile, “Stuart’s demographics are changing dramatically,” Tyson says. Thirty percent of Stuart’s students are limited-English proficient and 62 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. 

“We do not view these changes as a challenge but, rather, an opportunity—an opportunity to ensure that each student reaches his or her full potential,” he continues. “I am proud of the manner in which Stuart teachers, staff, and administrators have redoubled their efforts to embrace the opportunities before them.”

92 comments:

  1. When is a new experienced administration team going to be put it place! The changed demographics at Stuart have nothing to do with this mess!

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    1. Former Stuart parent6/10/14, 6:19 AM

      I agree. Tyson's comment about the student body is appalling. I was an ESL/low-income kid. Stop blaming students for poor hiring and management decisions. Sounds like Calhoun is not ready for prime time.

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  2. Surveys are great to uncover potential problems, but after that it seems like FCPS should get in and interview teachers and staff to get an understanding of what is going on. To date, that hasn't happened.

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  3. Stuart demographics have not changed much the past decade. Stop blaming the students rather than the leadership.

    Former Stuart Teacher

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    1. Thank you...another former Stuart Teacher.

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  4. Where and when are some of these Stuart community meetings occurring? I'm sure other parents, especially of rising 9th graders, would like to get involved. Thanks!

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    1. People who attended the informal community meeting unanimously agreed Stuart is in crisis. However, there was not a consensus on how the crisis should be addressed. The group agreed to continue to meet and discuss options but agreed there would be no letters on behalf of the whole group requesting the removal of Mrs. Calhoun. Not everyone who attended agrees her ouster is the first or best option.

      Hopefully FCPS will hold an official community meeting sooner rather than later to discuss some of these issues.

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    2. It is true that there was not a total consensus, but the majority of attendees did feel that there was a specific leadership problem and are writing their own letters.

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  5. Dr. Garza needs to step up and bring in new leadership. It borders on the ridiculous that our "leader" would need a mentor. The time for mentors has passed. Stuart should not be a training ground for new administrators. It is time to get a real leader at Stuart who has the skills to keep and attract talented teachers. Dr. Garza should personally recruit a new principal and should be actively involved in the recruitment of new teachers.

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    1. Further, the fact that the county administration has "provided additional guidance to the school’s administrative team in developing next year’s master schedule, provided guidance and support in the recruitment and retention of teachers at the school..." is also appalling. Aren't those the key jobs that should be performed by the Principal? I wish my boss would bring in people to do key aspects of my job.

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  6. What Mr. Tyson does not include is that the IB teams that have delivered one of the programs which distinquished Stuart have been almost completely dismantled by the Admin team, and rankings on the challenge index are as follows:
    2009- 279
    2010-432
    2011- 522
    2012 - 445
    2013-915
    2014- 823

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    1. I don't understand the rankings above. Does a high number mean a low mark? Please explain.

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    2. How many students at Stuart have to complete a 5th year in order to graduate? What is the drop out rate for students? transfer out rate? And is it true that in a few years the students will have to be taught in trailers? This school needs attention now!

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    3. Lower number is better rating. For instance 279= 279th of the top 1000 schools.

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    4. Presumably the teachers in 2013 were in place when Mrs. Calhoun arrived? Does that mean the first year of teachers she selected improved from 915 to 823?

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  7. I like that this article points out that Calhoun, specifically seems to be the problem. Stuart has had issues for a while. Why would FCPS put an inexperienced principal in there to begin with?

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  8. Because our school board member constantly describes us as "urban" which means non-skilled and problem ridden....this then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Low expectations.
    the Mason Supervisor uses the same words.
    Where was our school board member when all this
    was developing?

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    1. The teaching staff at Stuart have never had low expectations for their students. They do recognize the challenges their students are up against, and work with them to overcome any obstacles the students encounter to achieving a happy, successful life. The school board Rep has been working to resolve these issues for two years. She is not the problem.

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    2. Where is our school board member now? Sandy Evans has been strangely silent through this whole thing, yet her predecessor Kaye Koury is out there meeting with parents. What's up with that?

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    3. Sandy Evans is out and talking to parents. Reach out to her and she will respond. Kaye Korey is not officially meeting with parents. A few parents reached out to her for advice after her article appeared in the Falls Church News Press and she agreed to meet. She did not set-up the meeting.

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  9. Former Stuart Teacher6/10/14, 7:08 AM

    Apparently Stuart is the county's "starter school" for administrators. Of the six members of the admin team, only one had any previous administrative experience before bumbling through their jobs at Stuart. There is no one there to tell Calhoun, "This is not a good idea."

    This summer, over 50 Stuart teachers will walk out the door, never to return. This, combined with the 47 who left last year, means that Stuart has turned over their entire faculty since Calhoun took over. This fall, hundreds of students will once again be taught by "Mr. Vacancy."

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    1. Is this info verifiable or publicly available anywhere? This is crazy! How does this compare to other schools? This is so disheartening. I feel so badly for the teachers at Stuart. I hope some of them stick around and wait this out.

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    2. According to FCPS, the number of teachers who left Stuart last year is 26. What is the source of your 47?

      What is your source of "over 50" for 2014? As of June 6, the number of declared was 17. Can you document an additional 33 teachers who are leaving?

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    3. We did not lose 47 teachers last year and as off today we are only losing 17 which is a normal rate. The problem is the facts being put out there are not accurate.

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    4. Where can we "officially" get this information? I'm hearing different things from different people. Where did you get this info 1:24pm?

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    5. it was announced at the last Stuart PTSA meeting. They had all the statistics on the teachers that had left and are currently leaving. Some are just leaving due to marriage, moving out of state,etc. Not all due to Calhoun as certain groups would like you to believe. Calhoun has also replaced many of these positions.

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    6. This is going to sound crazy, but it has to be said: You cannot trust the statistics or data that the Admin. Team shares out. It's difficult to know whether to attribute it to lack of knowledge, or lack of ethics, but for the last 2 years, there have been numerous less than accurate numbers passed around to staff, students, and community by the team. From registration numbers and staffing quotas to evaluation data and testing information, it might be a good idea to trust, but verify. If you want accurate information it might be a good idea to get exit interviews from those leaving this year, rather than trust the Admin on numbers or reasons.

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    7. It doesn't sound crazy to me and I was wondering the same. Also, someone just shared this information... "The Raiders Digest reported that this year saying good bye to teachers at the year end "is different from most with about fifty teachers leaving Stuart." (pg 7) I haven't personally seen the Raiders Digest.

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  10. When I was teaching at AHS I was sen there to observe the ESOL classes. Teacher told me they pass all ESOL students so they can get their diplomas which is the most important part and if they want to learn science they can take a class at night after graduation.

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  11. Calhoun needs to go. No doubt about it. Nothing personal, but she is not the person for the job.

    The county needs to replace her with an experienced principal, not spend more and more money on "mentors". With the lean budget that we already have FCPS needs to spend less on bringing a sub-par principal up to speed and more on the students themselves.

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    1. We had an experience principal before Calhoun for six years that is what got us into this mess. A person can not turn around a sinking ship in such a short time. As an employer it is a wise decision to invest in employees.

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    2. Pam Jones who was the immediate past principal was not an experienced principal. She spent her teaching career as an intellectual disabilities teacher at Stuart then spent several years as an AP there before stepping into the Principalship.

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    3. Then why was she left there for six years as Stuart was failing?

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  12. Does anyone think that FCPS would place a rookie principal at McLean, Langley, or TJ? Even if they did, would they KEEP that prinicipal in place despite the fact that she has alienated most or all of the staff, has broken apart the school community and whose "leadership" has driven away most of the teachers? The answer is no. Our community school continues to be ignored by FCPS and it's unacceptable.

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    1. Sadly, I agree. This wouldn't happen in McLean.

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    2. umm...it did. Look it up. Current Principal was inexperienced.

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    3. Each of the principals at McLean, Marshall and Falls Church - schools that teachers recently rated as among the best places to work in FCPS - had all just served as assistant principals - like Ms. Calhoun - before they were appointed as principals at those schools. None had been a principal before. Complaining about what would or would not happen in McLean isn't going to fix the problem at Stuart.

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  13. I was a teacher at Stuart, and I found the students and faculty to be top-notch. Truly! At the end of Calhoun's first year as principal, however, she still didn't know my name. Really? I was your teacher there all year, and you didn't know my name?

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  14. What worries me is how this whole perception issue will spiral out of control and it will create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Calhoun will likely be there another year at least so the community needs to pull together and support Stuart and the administration until a long term solution can be put in place. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. My family has been at Stuart since 2009 and my kids have had a good experience. There are many dedicated and wonderful teachers working hard to make Stuart a success. Many parents like to complain but when I volunteer there I only see the same people volunteering- so if you want positive change, get involved. If you just want to complain- give Annandale or FCHS a try.

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  15. you cant blame the kids...the same study put falls church high school as #2 in the county in this survey. I would argue the same demographics at falls church high school.

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    1. Falls Church Parent6/15/14, 9:19 PM

      I was going to say exactly the same thing. If you read the article, Falls Church is top notch, and as a Falls Church parent, I have to agree. But, this is a shame for Jeb students. And blaming the students, and the demographics, is lower than low!

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  16. Why will Calhoun remain for another year! with her mentors? Stuart must have experienced leadership now!

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  17. Does anyone care about the students saying about this drama? ( yes I'm a student at jeb currently.) Calhoun changed the way stuart represent. Instead reading critiques from the media, why not ask us personally, the students and teachers, about the new rules they set up, the unprofessional grading system, the way teachers are teaching. No wonder for example more than 3/4th of the students failed the math sol. Also, talking about those securities, they are basically doing nothing, all they do is sit & stare. There's no violence in this school environment, or bulling, in fact we are all pretty close to each other. The fact that they made it hard on us such as more stressful tests and finals just makes the school looks bad because of our grades. Although people hardly doesn't recognize our achievements in sports & many wins. Next time when you read another article about jeb stuart and how "bad" the school is, why not confront it and ask any students that goes here. They will tell you the inner truth about this damn drama.

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    1. I actually did ask my daughter--a Stuart freshman--last night about her first year there. My sense is that she's either been fortunate that these concerns haven't impacted her classroom experience, or that she isn't aware of the current drama regarding how the school is administered; maybe she's just been lucky in terms of teacher assignments. We've also been thankful that the activities she's participated in this year seem to not be dominated by cliques as they were in our high schools 25 years ago, but instead there seems to be a shared experience among all students participating on the team or the arts activity.

      None of that is enough to remove all my concerns, however--because these issues will impact who is teaching her in the next three years (due the faculty turnover) and the impression of the school's quality to outsiders, including colleges.

      Anon student, I wish I better understood the issues you raise, too, so that I could incorporate them into my overall evaluation of the school. Even so, they have triggered new concerns for me.

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    2. The teachers have worked very hard to protect students from the stresses and hostilities they have worked under. Teams have made pacts to support one another with positivity, and to support their students regardless of the lack of support and destructive practices they face.

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  18. I hear a lot about calling for new administration, but very little about asking for accountability at the cluster level. As I understand the situation, FCPS decided to cut the successful math programs, not the principal. How can we hold the principal accountable for issues/ problems that are thrust upon her? Any time there is significant change, there will be upheaval. New management must afforded the opportunity for their changes to bear fruit. Maybe these teachers left because they did not like an administration that was looking to change the status quo. I am not in the school, or in the room, so I can't answer that. My concern is we do not see a full picture, and are rushing to judgment. I support allowing the principal to continue moving forward with REAL support from the cluster and the school board. I have one child at Stuart and will have another in two years, so our household is very much impacted. Ongoing churn of new administrators, regardless of experience is a recipe for disaster. I am willing to stay the course with careful and ongoing review.

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  19. As a current Stuart student, I think this article highlights an issue but does not put it in perspective properly . Just to put my opinion into perspective let me note that I am an IB senior who has two brothers who also went to this school. My oldest brother started in 2004. Both me and my oldest brother had many of the same teachers for our IB classes. These teachers are extremely dedicated and good at what they do. Both me and my brother are very social with our teachers and hear their opinions about this school. The problem with this school is not money, or the students, or the teachers, but a problem of failed leadership. This leadership mess can not be entirely blamed on Ms. Calhoun. When she first started in 2012, she had a mess of staffing problems and other problems that had been handed down to her from the previous principal. Ms. calhoun does not have an easy job. With that said, my teachers are not being heard. Their feedback about how to make this school a better place is not listened to. There is a gap of communication between the admin and staff. The teachers are doing a good job and have very good ideas of what needs to be done to improve the situation at this school. Stuart students have a lot of spirit and take pride in our school but are well aware of how it compares to other schools. Although it is disappointing, I am about to graduate in a few days and I must say that I have learned a lot throughout my 4 years here and that stuart is not a bad school. The reason why teachers are leaving is not because of the school but because they are under appreciated. I love all my teachers and I feel they have all done an excellent job. It is a shame to see these great teachers leave because of the failed leadership.

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    1. Fantastic analysis by a student! I for one would love to hear more from the students, the school administration, principal, parents, and the surrounding communities. People care and we need to know what Fairfax school administrators plan to do to bring Stuart on equal footing with the other Fairfax high schools.

      Congratulations to this student on your graduation--you will be great in your next endeavor whatever that may be.

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    2. So nice to hear input from a student. This is a great analysis. Congrats on your graduation. It seems like you have a good head on your shoulders and will go far.

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    3. As a current, Stuart, IB teacher I agree. We have not been heard. The new admin team came in to a tough school, but did not take the time to hear out established faculty. The administration has been combative and manipulative. I was offered a job elsewhere last year and decided to ride out the storm because the students and community are hard working. However, after being bumped into teaching 5 different classes in as many years, I have decided to move on.

      Stuart administration should have sat down with teachers to learn from the institutional knowledge of those that have been there for years. Instead, they came in with the attitude that everything old was bad and needed to be flushed. In response, those of us who have been there for years and have not been heard are going to more amiable environments. The admin team did not create this mess, but they certainly added to it.

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  20. Failed leadership = exodus of really wonderful teachers. Calhoun must go.

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  21. Singling one person to be the problem of the schools performance is absolutely absurd, have any of your ignorant people actually stop and think to yourselves maybe it isn't Calhoun who's the problem but the lack of motivation most not all but most of the students at Stuart have as a child I was thought that a school was never bad just the people in it and yes even the teachers since Calhoun started working at stuart a lot of things changed why? Because our students think they are free to do as they wish if that is the case then honestly why not take it up with the student and their parents there's different ways to deal with this but to put her out like that no that is unacceptable its not failed leadership its lack of motivation of the staff and students dont go pointing fingers at somone cause you then have three pointing back at yourselves you wanna see improvement give Calhoun one more year and a better staff to work with I guarantee you that thing will slowly get better as the students those who wish to succeed will do so regardles and for those who dont its their futures not ours were already doing what we worked hard for

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    1. Are you kidding me with this comment!!!!!! These aren't even coherent sentences. The students think they can do what they want because there has been NO structure. The structure and guidelines come from the top. However all of last year there was NO discipline and the kids did what they wanted when they wanted. There were no administrators in the hallways and the PRINCIPAL was NONEXISTENT. It was only when the gang problems got worse and the teachers were tired of not having the students creating the problems not removed from classrooms so that they could teach that they started complaining to outside sources to demand changes. Also many faculty didn't feel they were working in a safe environment - HENCE more increased security and new policies.

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    2. As a current staff member, I agree. More accountability must be taken at home. That being said, the reason why students feel that they can do whatever they want is because of failed administrative initiatives. We did not even have a cohesive attendance policy until late fall... Months after students had already developed bad habits.

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    3. I'm having a hard time even understanding what you are saying. While I agree there needs to be accountability at home there is undeniable proof that this school is on a downward spiral these last couple of years. The demographics of the school have not changed that drastically but the scores and morale of the school have. It looks like Ms. Calhoun is going to get a second chance so time will be the true test!

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  22. Uh, punctuation?

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    1. and grammar? Even the IB student above - using the sentences "me and my brother" -ughhhh

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  23. It's not the teachers or staff etc. Jeb and Falls Church are in borderline with stable families (lakebarcroft etc) and kids from culmore and other areas. Most kids who go to these schools are raised in poverty and end up being enrolled but not go to school at all because they have jobs. Kids can't do a great job if they cannot even go to school. Bring light to these dangerous communities.

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    1. Falls Church Parent6/15/14, 9:29 PM

      Don't bring Falls Church into this. FCHS is doing a GREAT job with its students: staff morale is high, discipline issues are low, students are graduating and going to college, they are testing well (although tests are not good criteria), and poor attendance is not an issue. What is happening at Jeb is terrible, and the buck stops at the top. Don't blame the kids!

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  24. Stuart still offers good opportunities for students that want to learn and succeed. If the student takes whatever necessary steps in order to achieve whatever their academic goals are, Stuart offers just that. It is still a great school with many opportunities

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  25. To make matter worst I've heard concerns personally from students that they are being targeted RACIALLY by Calhoun and that if you come wearing ANYTHING blue you are automatically targeted as a gang member.

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  26. Mr. DeRose and Ms. Jones need to get back to JEB

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    1. Ms Jones really??? She is the one that left Stuart in the shape it is in for a new principal to take over. Please understand the facts. It was her teachers she had in place before Calhoun was appointed that our students had the failing sol grades from.

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    2. And Kaye Kory was a Mrs. Jones supporter/our school board member? I am not confident she is the one who should be giving Dr. Garza advice ...

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    3. Kaye Kory is the one who wanted to destroy Falls Church with the charter school, which would have taken at least a quarter of Falls Church students. No, Kaye Kory does NOT have the best interests of our school in mind.

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    4. Kory needs to go, she does little to address the real issues, I say pack them all up Evans, Kory, and Gross, thank them for their service but it is time for new leadership within the community.

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  27. How many of the "new" teachers hired for next year will be "first" year teachers? How many are "transfer ins" from other high schools? High school students can tell from day one if their teacher really knows the "subject" and is clear about discipline!

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  28. Transfer Scott Davis and Darrell Estess to Stuart!. Stuart needs to have these very effective school resource officers!

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  29. Ms. Evans attended three PTSA meetings 2013-14 to address parent concerns (two in the last two months) and has dedicated a lot of time to individual and small group meetings with parents, teachers, and Stuart/FCPS administrators on Stuart and its concerns. I believe she is fully engaged and exploring options. I do not know if personally she is pro or con removing Mrs. Calhoun, but clearly she understands this is not an end all solution ... there is much work to be done either way.

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  30. As a parent of students zoned for Stuart, but not yet attending there, I'm alarmed by what is being written and said. Yet the only person not writing or saying anything is Sandy Evans! It's great if she's meeting with parents, teachers and administrators at Stuart, but those of us observing the situation from the outside aren't seeing that. Her PR skills are really bad if she doesn't understand that the entire community needs to know that she is actively addressing this situation. Otherwise, she just seems to be at best uninvolved or at worst oblivious. Especially when Kaye Kory, her predecessor and mentor, has been so vocal, whether officially or unofficially. Ms. Calhoun may be getting a "no confidence" vote from the Stuart community, but Ms. Evans is likely to get one from her constituency. I hope she doesn't aspire to higher office because she's not making a great impression handling the one she already has..

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    1. Evans, Kory, and Gross must go, time for new leaders that are willing and able to address the real problems in the community. Instead of lip service and riding the fence.

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  31. I haven't made up my mind about Dr. Calhoun, but I attended last night's spring athletic awards ceremony, where she spoke. Curiously, her entire remarks seemed addressed only to the parents in the room. Speaking of the students, all references were in the 3rd person--"they" showed sportsmanship, dedication, teamwork, etc. It struck me as strange that she seemingly ignored the students--the majority of people in the room, who were there to be recognized. Does she better engage with students in other contexts?

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    1. She was telling the parents how proud she was of our athletes. She gave examples of how they showed sportmanship even in tough situations. She spoke about the every growing number of athletes maintaining a 3.0 or above gpa. Of course she was speaking in 3rd person. Is everyone just going to critize Calhoun for every breath or are we going to get together as a community and help stuart! This negativity has to stop. And if they remove Calhoun, do you think Stuart will get anymore attention or do you think the county did what you are suggesting and now they can blame the community for what goes wrong.

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    2. I understand all this. But I was struck that she did not address a portion of her remarks to the students themselves.

      Please note that I began my comment by saying I hadn't made up my mind about Dr. Calhoun. You seem to be more familiar with her than I am, but you did not address my original question: does she better engage with students in other contexts?

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  32. I'm currently a teacher at Stuart and if the community really wants to make a change, then they need to start filing complaints to the Department of Housing about the Culmore community. The community is clueless to what is going on there. MS-13 (a gang from El Salvador) controls the apartments there. Drug dealing, prostitution, violent crime, and human trafficing are a huge problem and those are the kids that are going to our school until they get expelled when caught. That housing area needs to be shut down. There has also been over 100 new ESOL students enrolled since November. YES the student population is drastically changing and the challenge of Culmore has a lot to do with academic success. Calhoun is doing all she can to get the students that are involved in MS-13 out of the school but the country requires significant documentation in order to expel a student.

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    1. Culmore is the culprit, that place needs to be shut down and the people who live there exported back to where they came from.

      I am sorry if this is politically incorrect but so are the idiots who stand by and let our community go into decline over alleged political correctness. Immigration is ok within limits, overgration is destructive to a community and its schools.

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    2. The Admin team does not respond to requests from teachers for disciplinary support. They do not fill out reports, sign reports or follow up on recurring behavior events. Students last year laughed at teachers and security when told to go to class, with "give me detention, nobody never serves it." Teachers were told to run their own in-room detentions, that discipline was their (the teachers'job). There is a new Dean of Students this year working on the issue, but the other AP's and Ms. Calhoun will have to do their parts before things will improve substantially. The main problem regarding discipline is ordinary teens behaving as teens will, not a criminal contingency. Rather than incrementally improve the systems that were in place for running a school, the Admin team wanted to quickly throw out all previous systems and replace them. Only none of the management team knew how.

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    3. I agree that Culmore needs to be shut down but our fearless leaders will do nothing about that place. Culmore is a huge blight on the Mason District and has 15 to 20 people living in 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. What will Penny Gross do to put a stop to this?! I also agree that Sandy Evans needs to be more vocal in the community.

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    4. If you think the community is "clueless" about what is going on in Culmore than you don't know much about our community either. We are far from clueless and many of us have been working on that angle as well. There are many code violations in Culmore and other local apartments but the county refuses to do anything of substance about it. In fact, there are probably many articles on this very blog about the problem.

      To blame the whole problem on Culmore though is disingenuous. The population of Stuart has changed that significantly in ten years.

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    5. That is how it was at the beginning of the year but now there is a new policy for student detention and since the survey was done, there is huge improvement in the administration backing teachers up when referrals are made. It has made a difference in how the students are behaving now. Hopefully this will continue next year.

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    6. Great post, I agree, The Culmore area apartments need to be greatly reduced. That is all this area is anymore, mult-families crammed into one apartment, having multiple kids they can not afford while taxpayers flip the bill, oddly calling for a new bigger school instead of better county enforcement and better parent education. If you can't afford one child don't have 2, 3 or more. But when everything is free I guess why not.

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    7. The overcrowding in Culmore shapes perceptions of the larger area that feeds into Stuart and has a negative impact on surrounding communities. The run-down garden apartments need to be condemned as a public nuisance, with new housing built in its place. But how likely is this to happen with Penny Gross on the Board of Supervisors? She is part of a local Democratic machine that is happy to see eastern Fairfax turn into a low-income ghetto, as long as those residents who can vote support Democratic candidates.

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  33. What is this about students who were in a recent play at Stuart having to apologize to Ms Calhoun personally for the content and subject matter of the play? I don't understand what is going on there...

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    1. OK, now we're just throwing in random subjects...

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    2. If it's part of a pattern of abusive or authoritarian behavior, it's needs to be considered. But is the story really true?

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  34. This school is out of control!!!!Tough leadership is needed with the help of the police dept.! Yes, the police dept. Teachers cannot or should not have to deal with students who threaten, bully, or abuse other students!....

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    1. Your first sentence is just untrue. I am at the school every day, and it's just not true. Are you a professional scare-mongerer or something?

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    2. Tough, is not what's needed. Bullying students and teachers is not going to create a positive learning environment. Strong, Respectful, Supportive, Knowledgeable, and Organized leadership is needed. The reasons for the discipline issues can be placed firmly in the basket of lack of follow-through, and attention to detail from the management. The management already has a belligerent attitude toward faculty and students, but does not follow-through on disciplinary events, or have logically designed schedules, timely hiring for vacancies, run basic procedural systems that make things run in an orderly way, or do the contact needed with families to make sure all are working together for an orderly school. The students are not the problem, and there was nothing wrong with Stuart two years ago that a competent and collaborative leadership team could not have fixed in six months. Sadly, that is no longer true. It will take years to reconstitute the teaching staff that will have been bled out from the school by the end of June.

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  35. BRING BACK DR . RIDDLE !!!!!!

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  36. Stuart is focused too much on ib students apparently you cant get into a top notch college without being and Ib student

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  37. Stuart population is almost at 2,000! What will it be in 5 yrs? The planning for that scene should start now.

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    1. Without county enforcement and ignorance of allowing multiple families to cram into apartments having multiple kids they can not afford, I will put the over/under on the stuart population at 4000 within 5 years. And now there is talk of putting more apartments where Sears is... Yikes.. It is only a matter of time before that resembles Culmore..

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