Sandy Evans, the Mason District representative and past chairwoman of the Fairfax County School Board, didn’t follow her own FCPS regulation.
In her quest to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School Evans initiated a name change Regulation R. 8170.7 in collaboration with an outside interest group. It was unanimously approved by the School Board.
The Regulation (R. 8170.7) calls for community involvement in the renaming process, and an official FCPS May 2016 survey of residents within the Stuart pyramid, including students, resulted in firm rejection of a name change. However, Ms. Evans did not agree with the survey results and continued to work to change the name. Despite failing to ascertain “compelling need” or what constituted “sufficient support,” Evans proceeded to take steps toward renaming our high school. A motion was moved and passed to create an Ad-Hoc committee to determine whether to rename the school.
Surprisingly, the Ad Hoc Committee was not limited to those within the J.E.B. Stuart community but included outsiders from all over the county, Falls Church City and Maryland. Including outsiders in the Ad Hoc Committee begged the question as to the definition of “community.” The Committee membership was weighted in favor of changing the name and all outsiders were “Changers.” The result was a fractured committee with multiple reports that failed to provide a unified recommendation with “sufficient support” from the Stuart community.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents obtained by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance detail the extent of collusion, secrecy and deception by Evans and other school board members in pursuing their political agenda rather than representing the views of Evans’ Stuart Community constituents.
July 27, 2017 two motions were put before the School Board. The first, introduced by Tammy Derenak Kaufax, recognized that R. 8170.7 had not been followed and called for delaying a name change vote, and reviewing the process for adherance to R. 8170.7. This motion failed 6-5. Evans then moved to change the name and offered “Stuart” as a compromise to save money and assuage the alumni. Her motion passed 7-2-2.
Two community meetings followed the vote. The first, to solicit new name suggestions, was wide open to anyone from anywhere. 73 names were proposed. The second was to vote from the list of 73 to select a new name for the school and was limited to Stuart area residents. Out of 16,000+ households, only 932 voted. Only parents of FCPS students received notifications of the name change ballot process. The weighted vote process used by FCPS once again proved that the community favors “Stuart.” October 26 the School Board will vote on a new name. The School Board is not beholden to choose any name provided by the community.