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Sunday, October 18, 2015

School board race in Providence heats up over LGBT issue

Dalia Palchik (center) at the Merrifield Fall Festival.
The school board race in Mason District is not getting much attention, as the incumbent Sandy Evans, is running unopposed, but the contest in Providence is drawing some heat over the LGBT issue.

The incumbent, Patty Reed, did not vote to expand Fairfax County Public Schools’ nondiscrimination policy last spring to add gender identification as a protected class, while challenger Dalia Palchik vows to fight for the rights of transgendered students.   

Providence covers western Falls Church, including part of the area in the Falls Church High School attendance zone. The Annandale blogger spoke with both candidates at the Merrifield Fall Festival Oct. 17.

For Mason District, the key issue is maintaining low class sizes in schools with large numbers of high-needs students, including those in English as a second language programs and those eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. That’s especially urgent, as the school board is struggling to close a huge, looming budget deficit.Evans strongly supports maintaining needs-based staffing.

When asked whether she supports maintaining needs-based staffing, Reed said, “honestly, I haven’t formed an opinion yet.” She wants to see more information on the budgetary impact and the costs and benefits of these programs.

Regarding the budget, Reed said, “everything is on the table. The only thing not on the table is teacher compensation.” She believes it’s important for teacher pay in Fairfax County to be comparable to that of other nearby school systems.

Palchik stressed the need to balance the needs of all students and the need to keep class sizes low and also calls for less standardized testing. She would address the budget shortfall by exploring innovative approaches and looking for new revenue sources, including partnerships with businesses and nonprofits.

Reed said she did not vote for the nondiscrimination policy on transgendered students because the board should have had more information on the number of students affected and a cost and benefit analysis before making a decision. Reed noted that she did vote in the past to add sexual orientation to the board’s nondiscrimination policy and anti-bullying rules.

Palchik, who supports the policy on transgendered students, said, “I’m very much supportive of protecting students and staff including the most vulnerable.” The “hateful language” at the school board meetings where this was discussed underscores the need to have policies to address bullying and harassment of LGBT students, she said. “This is the civil rights issue of our time.” Evans voted in support of the policy, which was adopted 10-2.

Reed, who’s served on the school board since 2009, says her biggest advantage is experience. She has been endorsed by the Fairfax County Republican Committee, the two teacher unions, Class Size Counts, and the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC).

Class Size Counts is a parent advocacy group pushing for lower classes throughout the county, which could result in larger classes in schools that serve large numbers of high-needs students. TVC, classified by the Southern Policy Law Center as an extremist hate group, opposes what it calls “the national transgender movement” opposes efforts to protect LGBT people against discrimination and harassment.
Palchik was endorsed by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, LGBT Democrats of Virginia, and a slew of Democratic politicians. Evans isn’t endorsing either candidate.

Some have pointed to Palchik’s job – as a Spanish and French teacher in an elite private school in Washington, D.C. – to claim she is out of touch with FCPS realities. She says her own experiences as an immigrant – from Argentina at age 6 – and a student in English as a second language programs and eligible for free and reduced-price school meals helps her relate to that population. She attended Mantua Elementary School, Frost Middle School and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.


  1. Dalia Palchik has a long list of endorsements :

    Patty Reed also opposed revising the Fairfax County Public Schools' Family Life curriculum to address issues of gender identity.

    Reed is no friend of the LGBT community - having failed to support us on two crucial votes just this year.

    The TVC which endorsed her is officially recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center

    Clearly the haters know Patty Reed is their kind of candidate.

    Conversely , there is a Equality Advocates actively working in support of Dalia Palchik - a true ally of inclusion and safety for all :!equality-advocates/cmg8

    1. It seems that Dahlia Palchik is using a hot button social issue to distract voter attention from her complete lack of experience on virtually all matters that will dominate the school board agenda for the foreseeable future.

      I noticed that Patty Reed hasn't claimed the endorsement of the TVC. At least there's no reference to it on her campaign website. Accordingly, while it makes sense for the TVC to try and claim her, the fact remains that she abstained rather than voted against the nondiscrimination policy and gave a credible reason for her decision. So, I'm hardly impressed by the vicious criticism leveled against her by that policy's supporters.

    2. Has Reed repudiated the hateful TVC and its endorsement ? Her supporters are posting vicious anti LGBT bigotry on area social media. Clearly the haters see Patty Reed as their ally.

  2. I don't like that disagreeing with a group means calling the group a "hate" group. That sort of excessive rhetoric is not helpful.


      "All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics"

    2. Immutable means "unchanging over time or unable to be changed". That's hardly the case with transgenders. Their lifestyle decisions, particularly as relates to outward appearance and mannerisms, are discretionary and frequently change over time. Therefore, it's debatable whether a self-assigned lifestyle based predominantly on elective behavior is an appropriate subject matter for antidiscrimination policies that typically relate to race, physical handicaps and other truly immutable characteristics,.

    3. How many transgender people do you know well ? Many have felt their gender identity is something immutable and innate. It just sometimes takes years to reconcile that identity with the gender assigned to them at birth. They would not say they had a choice - but they are following their true natures. They absolutely deserve to be protected from discrimination and harassment in school.

    4. out of curiosity 5:49, is homosexuality immutable? just trying to get a barometer reading on you.

    5. Their sexual identity is entirely obvious. It's the gender "assigned" to them at birth. Transgenders already have legal protection against physical harassment. What they're really seeking is legal acknowledgment that they have what you refer to as "true natures". However, their "true natures" are merely a manifestation of their unwillingness or inability to accept their own physical reality. There's nothing about that dysfunctional outlook that strikes me as grounds for giving Transgenders special legal status or protections.

    6. Adam Goldberg: I don't believe it matters. The "LGB" in "LGBT" refers to sexual preference. The "T" refers to gender preference. They're mutually exclusive

  3. If this County was any more backwards it would see its butt sagging. And boy is it sagging right into the gutter of emptiness.

  4. in re: some of the comments here:

    It's sad that some people put so much energy into resentment, discrimination, hate, and bigotry. It's part of human nature to notice differences and similarities between/among each other, but it's utterly counter-productive to spend so much time trying to suppress others just because they're different.