Leesburg School Boundary Case

By Loudoun Insider

Day one of testimony is in, with day two today.  Leesburg Today and the LTM have stories up, but the best coverage by far is at the Loudoun HOA blog (be sure to see the map in this earlier post as well).  Once again bloggers leave the paid press in the dust.  I can’t figure out why I didn’t have Loudoun HOA blog on the blogroll before – great stuff there – it’s on the blogroll now, make it a regular stop.

UPDATE:  Best coverage of day two of course comes from a blog – don’t even bother reading the papers.

UPDATE 2:  Loudoun HOA blog again knocks it out of the ball park with Day Three coverage.


Comments

  • vacliff says:

    This is what happens when you build a school that was not needed and force new boundaries to attend it.
    As I’ve mentioned in previous threads, look at the School Board’s own projected enrollment numbers….there will still be over 600 empty seats in the Leesburg cluster as far out as 2018.
    Let the empire building continue………

  • LBA2012 says:

    The school will be needed with all of the new construction in Leesburg. The existing schools in Potomac are already over crowded and bursting at the seems. The current board has been so awful, the Democrats are already lining up candidates for the next cycle. I suspect it will be a repeat of many of the races though and the Democrats will get clobbered. They have two candidates already planning on announcing after the Presidential election is over. Guess what? Larry Roeder is planning on running for Chair of the County! I’ve also heard that there will be multiple candidates for Chair this time. One of the possibilities is John Flannery. He is preparing to run for Chair or for Commonwealth’s Attorney again…he hasn’t decided. There will also be some independent candidates running in this race next time. It’s an almost certainty now.

  • Not John Whitbeck says:

    Why does the name John Whitbeck keep popping up everywhere? How does this guy show up where ever there is political controversy?? Aren’t the people who made the decission his political buddies? Seems there is a conflict of interest here.

  • Leej says:

    LI you should put up a thread about this.

    http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/major_global_tech_firm_establishes_presence_in_loudoun999/

    I have a bit to say about this.

    Sorry about being off topic again.

  • TRUTH says:

    Sadly today Ms Judkins, the attorney for LCPS, referred to special education children as “second class citizens”. It was only after an audible gasp in the courtroom did she recant with “perhaps that wasnt the right term”.

    She also objected to Mr Morales being allowed to testify. Her basis was that he was not an expert witness and should not be allowed to discuss school capacity which is a simple mathematical division equation. Only LCPS could expect to require an expert to talk about elementary math.

  • TRUTH says:

    In an email dated 12/5/11 from Chairman Stevens to Herr Hatrick

    “Ed-
    I’m concerned about the special education analysis provided on Friday regarding the Leesburg elementary boundary proposals. It reads that multiple plans “may compromise the long range special education recommendation for the school and require program relocation.”

    The method here, ifl understand it correctly, was to measure the proposed boundary plans against the proposed staff placement of special education, where the placement of sped programs are fixed. This is not what I intended to ask for and not what I think the Board needs. I request that the special education staff draw up alternative program placement plans based on the proposed boundary plans.”

    So what do you respond to your boss with in regards to his boss? Additionally evasive tactics is how.

    “We are going to discuss this at senior staff. I already had a brief conversation w/ Dr. Hatrick. We did exactly what the school board asked us to do. They are now creating a moving target to which there is no answer. I’ll let you know what we decide after our discussion. Take care and have some fun.”

    Adamo is dirty as well.

  • Leej says:

    So glad we left Loudoun and live in the big city where we work with everyone. You see thru the school system battles and especially the parents we see the battle of the entitled and so called haves trying to keep the not so entitled the have nots. The have nots are welcome as long as they are not in the haves schools. When my friends came out to see us in Loudoun and back then me and Dalyn were on of the haves. IS this county just full of themselves and feel entitled because most directly or indirectly make a bunch off the american taxpayer dollar. But we would of never fought to keep the have nots out of the schools or our neighborhoods. And our home was open to everyone.

    I have great stories about my boys growing up thru pretty much first grade to about 7th grade or so in Santa Monica California where my wife taught in a public school for the theater and arts .

    My kids grew up with some of the rich and famous yet there were kids very poor. And yes in Santa Monica. Yet this school everyone pitched in unconditionally to help each other no matter what. A magical time in our lives. :-)

    It shows me more and more how polarizing the suburbs are not just Loudoun but across the country. And why people are going back to the city.

    Our school systems are a giant magnifying glass on how life is in america. And how our schools can polarize communities.

    City schools are a better picture of America. and the real good in America ;-)

  • HOAhell says:

    Q. Did the judge allow Adamo’s proffer letter into evidence?
    Q. Can the plaintiffs appeal?
    And finally a think question for extra credit: What convoluted legal argument will Horne use to avoid finding against the School Board when the evidence was so overwhelming?

  • Moralitas says:

    @HOAhell

    Do you mean the cash proffer letter dated June 14, 2010? This cash proffer letter notates that it was cc’ed to:

    Loudoun County School Board
    Dr. Edgar B Hatrick III, Supt.
    Beverly Tate, Planning Supervisor
    Sara Howard-O’Brien, Land Management Supervisor

    This is the cash proffer letter that Mr. Oheniser and Mr. Marshall testified under oath (this week) to never seeing/receiving before? One of them even elaborated to said that they would have been very interested in this subject of this letter and would have recalled receiving it.

    Or do you mean the June 30, 2010 memorandum with SUBJECT: FY11 CIP Cash Proffer Request for the Leesburg Area Elementary School (ES-15)? (ES-15 is code for Frederick Douglas Elementary).

    This email was cc’ed via U.S. Mail to:

    River Creek LLC
    Spring Lakes Homeowner’s Association

    The the ZMAP numbers for those cash proffers show $462,433.92 from River Creek and $139,624.66 from Spring Lakes was needed for land acquisition and site improvements at the Douglas Elementary School, sited to open in the Fall of 2012. I find that strange since River Creek and Spring Lakes fought to NOT attend Douglas Elementary School in this recent rezoning. Why did Sam Adamo request cash proffers that he did not disclose to the public for a $22 million dollar school that was paid for by the Loudoun County citizens?

  • HOAhell says:

    Thanks, it was the 6/30 one that nauseated several school board members and uninvolved residents.
    Sure sounds like a tradeoff.
    Here ya go, here’s $600K, but keep FRM/ELL out of our schools.
    It matches up with addresses of people who crafted the clever plan to put ELL apartments in Tolbert and stick it to the rest of CL 19.
    And their favored rep on the school board.
    And the toadies in LCPS planning.

  • Moralitas says:

    It might be fun to do a posting next week on the following:

    A Code of Conduct for School Board Member __________ (fill in the blank)

    All LCPS Board Members are required by law to follow the Code of Conduct for School Board Members.

    LCPS School Board ByLaw 2-3: A Code of Conduct for School Board Members

    2 (b). To recognize that it is as important for the Board to understand and evaluate the educational program of the schools as it is to plan for the business of school operation, and thus it shall be my duty to thoroughly research all issues to the best of my ability so that my decisions may be in the best interests of my constituents and the school district as a whole.

    5 (b). To base my personal decisions upon all available facts in each situation and to vote my honest convection in every case, UNSWAYED BY BIAS OF ANY KIND.

    7 (b). To resist every TEMPTATION and outside pressure to use my position as a school board member to benefit either myself or any other individual or agency apart from the total interest of the school district.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Baron, as much as I don’t care for that guy, you need to produce that email if you want to make that assertion. Comment deleted for now, along with questioning comment. Produce the email and we’ll have a post about it.

  • TRUTH says:

    Jennifer Bergel on 12/31/11 regarding a plan that competed with her River Creek plan:

    “This plan as I expressed people to not have as much traction which is why I can’t vote for it. It moves Stratford into Catoctin. But the community who presented this plan, I want people to understand, tried to get Stratford into Douglass with their plan.”

    To a layman this might not seem odd but allow be to explain.

    A) “as much traction” – this is a purely political statement, it has nothing to do with the merits but rather which group can scream louder

    B) “Stratford into Catoctin” and “tried to get Stratford into Douglass ” – The rub here is that NO WHERE in their bylaws and at NO TIME did the LCSB state that volunteerism should be given priority over actual enumerated factors in their bylaws

  • TRUTH says:

    Tom Reed on 12/13/11 regarding Bergel’s River Creek Plan

    ” In the case of Stratford they came forward and said they were Cool Springs and they volunteered to move to FD and we’re even considered moving to Evergreen Mill and so I think I have always felt that should be one of things we honor”

    HONOR? Really? How about you be transparent with people upfront and tell them that this will be a deciding factore over your bylaws? Oh wait, I think I know the answer to that….

    Godfrey on 12/13/11 regarding the same plan but after Marshall tried to amend it

    “Basically what Mr. Reed said, I’m concerned that Stratford, the one community that stood up and said, Let’s go to Douglass, is not accommodated in Mr. Marshall’s amendment. ”

    Stupid is as stupid does.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    John Whitbeck was sitting at the plaintiff’s table and on his iPad trolling the internet…but wait for it…he was viewing Too Conservative’s website. He was on this site for nearly 45 minutes and had multiple a side bar conversation with the chunky blonde haired older lady, who sitting next to him. There were a bunch of witnesses sitting behind Whitbeck and they chuckled at Whitbeck’s choice of websites

    Whitbeck, who only represents one plaintiff and clearly did not do much work or heavy legal lifting. He wasn’t that engaged in his clients case. Seriously if Whitbeck was my attorney I would have shit-canned his ass. Trolling the internet in open court. Conversely the lead plaintiff attorney Mr. Michael Petkovich, who represents 6 plaintiffs was the legal heavy weight. Some of the evidence Petkovich obtained via FOIA was mind blowing. Waiting to obtain a hard copy of the the phone records and emails on the proffers.

    Hoping the Loudoun HOA blog posts the evidence. That blog has provided excellent coverage, someone needs to get that person a job at one of the Loudoun papers.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    I’ve now heard that about Whitbeck from three different people, Baron. Too funny. Hope he liked the “Whitest Kids You Know” post.

  • HOAhell says:

    Not to set off a tectonic shift the night before the weekend, but it sounds like John Whitbeck did a good job for his client and his client did a good job for his HOA. Maybe he could catch a break.
    Both attorneys deserve a round of applause and a beer.
    The real heroes are the people in the HOAs that brought this to light and did the research. They deserve the profound gratitude of everyone who grouses about Hat Rack and “Sam the Man,” including the new School Board.
    These neighbors helped each other expose the machinations of a mindless bureaucracy that is impervious to all of our needs and gets fat on our tax dollars. This must have taken so much time away from their families and jobs and all the things the rest of us use as excuses not to go to public meetings.
    Thanks y’all. No matter what the judge has to say, this trial was a game-changer.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    We’ll see if it’s a game changer or not, after all this is LoCo, where the ridiculous BOE case was decided in favor of the crooked BOE after tons of evidence that they violated all decency and FOIA requirements. We’ll see how the special connections work out this time. It will be especially interesting to see if special insider Whitbeck’s clients get any preferential treatment.

    After that BOE case debacle I will never trust the Loudoun judiciary again.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    The BOE/FOIA was a legal fubar. Let’s not forget that a private citizen was wrongfully put through the notorious Loudoun GOBGN.

    I have little faith that Judge Horne or the Loudoun’s Circuit Court will issue a favorable ruling to clean up the Bergel2 plan. This was social engineering. Another comment said ” elitism is the new discrimination”, no truer words can explain the school boundary mess. The Court is ground zero for Loudoun’s elite GOBGN. The SB lawsuit has proven to be a epic Darwin reality show train wreck. Surely we will all see who the real members of the GOBGN are and who really holds the power in Loudoun.

  • BOEbullies says:

    True that, Baron. Two of Judge Horne’s BOE appointees lied under oath in the FOIA case.

  • LoCo parent says:

    I don’t have much faith that Horne would rule against the county either. MAYBE he will toss a bone and find in favor of Whitbecks petition. Low impact loss for the schools. The other, however, would be a colossal mess for them.

    It’s an absolute shame that some of our school officials could get away with being misguided by politics, elitism and power. But most disappointing is that this behavior has been tolerated by the others who chose to look the other way. In the end, the losers are not petioners or a school system, they are children.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Only some children are losers – the children of those who know the right people get exactly what their parents want for them at the expense of others. That’s Loudoun County in a nutshell.

  • JusticeLeague says:

    What a week for the families and taxpayers of Loudoun County! I just hope that we all get to read the rest of the FOIA’d documents that didn’t make it into the court record. After reading about all the LCPS shenanigans in the papers, I think every Loudoun resident should read these FOIA’d LCPS documents and know what really happened to our tax dollars, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, our children.

    Out of curiosity, I attended part of the trial just to watch how LCPS would treat the Petitioners (those parents who actually cared enough about Leesburg, to take a year out of their lives to help set things right for the families of Leesburg). The well-heeled LCPS attorney, Ms. Judkins, went to great lengths to malign the Petitioners, and the witnesses.

    Stunningly, Ms. Judkins misrepresented facts, and claimed that the “Administrative Record” was a COMPLETE record. However, what LCPS produced was only a PARTIAL record. Ms. Judkins produced emails from one LCPS.org address and CERTAINLY NOT ALL the LCPS emails to and from individual board members regarding the boundary process. Key emails to and from LCPS Board Members, internal working documents, etc. were NOT included! So much for transparency!

    Lucky for the Petitioners that so many folks across Leesburg knew what to expect from LCPS, and made individual FOIA requests to help shed light on the situation. And shed light they did. Some of the documents that made their way into court highlighted the questionable behavior of key LCPS players in the process.

    If this is business as usual at LCPS, I hope that the new school board will make some much needed changes. Loudoun residents deserve transparency!

  • TRUTH says:

    The cash proffer letters has surfaced! Both LCSB members testified that they never saw these as required.

    Both River Creek and Spring Lakes had far more access to Bergel than anyone else and ultimately got what they wanted. Hmmmmm.

    http://loudounhoa.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/adamo-by-request/

  • TRUTH says:

    Beverly Tate to Sam Adamo in an email dated 10/7/11

    ” I might be inclined to reduce other planning zones by a couple kids more each and plug them into the CL20 and CL20.1 zones instead.”

    WAIT WHAT!?!? A planning zones is based on residence and the children that live there. You can’t just “move” kids from one zone to another. What is this staff doing?

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    Staff is doing what their bosses are telling them to do, and their bosses are working to keep the GOBGN that runs this county happy. Screw the rest of you peons.

  • TRUTH says:

    In an email chain on 11/29/11 Bergel sends the new River Crekk plan to Adamo to “map and vet this plan”

    Adamo responds ” you know this splits CL19 right?”

    Bergel responds “Yes. I told them (Stew Curley) I would put it upand have it vetted. I believe it is a 1/3 2/3 split. Thus the vetting”

    Adamo then send it to his staff by saying “Let’s split away.”

    Bergel and Staff simply made their own changes to a jigsaw puzzle by pulling out a pair of scissors and cutting their own pieces while the rest of the public had to use the pieces whole. Disgusting.

  • JusticeLeague says:

    Thanks Truth.

    Is there a place/site where we can read all of them?

    If there is not one, LI can you host or post a site for this purpose? Pretty please?

    Also thanks LI for suggesting the Loudoun HOA blog. I finally had time to read them.

    Much better articles than the inaccurate Loudoun Times Mirror (where the reporter wrote an article this week stating that the Beacon Hill CL05 Petitioners were slated to attend the new Frederick Douglass school! Wrong again LTM!).

    Does anyone know if Ms. Bergel still sits on the board at LTM?

  • HOAhell says:

    How about the fake planning zone called CL 7.2 that consists of Tuscarora High School. No people live in it but it made it look like Beacon Hill did not have proximity to Reid.

  • Loudoun Insider says:

    It’s too bad Bergel was re-elected and was able to foist this mess on the citizens, along with David D’Onofrio, the guy who helped her get re-elected against his supposed party mate Paul Arias.

    Loudoun HOA again knocks it out of the ballpark with detailed coverage for Day Three:

    http://loudounhoa.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/school-boundary-trial-day-3/

    I’m hoping someone will set up some kind of website to lay out all of these emails in order so we can see how rotten this really is – I don’t really think TC is the best place for that, but if nothing else pops up we’ll see what we can do.

  • LoCo parent says:

    Will the verdict at 9am on Monday be presented by the Judge in open court or will the opinion simply be available in a letter to the parties at that time?

  • JusticeLeague says:

    Thanks LI.

    A public running record of these shenanigans may motivate citizens to become more active in matters that are critically important to the children of Loudoun County.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed that a website will soon be created. I think it would be a wonderful place for citizens to post FOIA’d documents and work together to “clean up” Loudoun.

  • HOAhell says:

    http://www.loudounhoa.com would be happy to archive the emails.
    Feel free to post within parameters of truth and respect for private citizens.
    Email story suggestions to loudounhoa@gmail.com

  • JusticeLeague says:

    Thanks so much! I’m sure many people will appreciate having more information.

    Good luck to the Petitioners tomorrow. I’ll keep you in my prayers!

  • Sic Semper Tyrannis says:

    Arbitrary & Capricious

    ARBITRARY is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “Not supported by fair, solid, and substantial cause, and without reason given”.

    CAPRICIOUS is defined at Law.com as “unpredictable and subject to whim, often used to refer to decisions which do not follow the law, logic or proper procedure.”

    Below you will find specific examples of why the rezoning decision on Dec 13, 2011 was both arbitrary and capricious.

    ARBITRARY AND CAPRICOUS: Even at the behest of the School Board, Special Education staff failed to provide pertinent data to the public until AFTER the deadline to submit plans. And when they did – they marked all plans other than their own and a variation of their plan with DOES NOT MEET SPED NEEDS when in fact they flat out failed to assess any plan for how SPED needs might be achieved in each plan. Take your pick on this one….it was not fair, nor solid, it was clearly unpredictable, whimsical and did not follow proper procedure.

    ARBITRARY : Sycolin Creek was determined to be an outlier due to distance however, the current 4% ELL & FRM population at Sycolin is entirely made up of central Leesburg students who are bussed out there. There is no fair, solid or substantial reason for this school to be removed from the rezoning process.

    CAPRICIOUS: Stratford (CL32) had a community member stand in front of the board and state they would be willing to move to Douglass. It was later discovered that this person did not represent the community it any official capacity. Yet on the night of the vote, without prior notification to the public, board members voted against plans that did not satisfy CL32 and voted for a plan which did. It was clearly capricious that a new factor was introduced and given such weight. CL32 resident that volunteered her community to go to Douglas is only ONE person…there were numerous people that supported the BH plan.

    ARBITRARY AND CAPRICOUS: Leesburg and Balls Bluff elementary schools were excluded (by Staff) from the rezoning process however; they had similar ELL & FRM issues as Catoctin. The removal of these schools from the process was done on a whim and without factual reason given to the public.

    ARBITRARY: LCPS Planning & Legislation department arbitrarily created a planning zone (7.2) around Francis Hazel Reid to artificially remove naturally neighboring planning zones from becoming adjacent to FHR and thus giving attendance priority to these arbitrary zones with “0” students within this zone. CL07.2, in essence, removes the clusters that ARE contiguous to FHR…it “blocks” them.

    ARBITRARY: LCSB Staff arbitrarily and without stated reason, removed 40% of the Central Loudoun (Leesburg) Planning district. The following schools were removed from the process: Leesburg, Balls Bluff, Sycolin Creek and Lucketts Elementary. These school are not effected by the demographic and rezoning process that was “stated” to balance ALL of Leesburg schools.

    CAPRICIOUS: SPED recommendations were based off of the staff plan (and not an independent analysis of the SPED needs). This was confirmed, by Dr. Adamo in the School Board meeting, on November 15, 2011.

  • Something Fishy says:

    Chairman John Stevens, December 13, 2011
    School Board Meeting
    “The proposal to divide CL19 is not made on its own merits for the people who live in CL19. It is made because in enables other neighborhoods, not CL19, to get the school placements that they want to have. And the fact that so few people from CL19 and nobody from my knowledge from Evans Ridge wrote to us or came to speak or arranged a meeting, means that we’re making this decision for the benefit of other people while those people are out of the room. And that just doesn’t sit right with me.”

  • HOAhell says:

    Virginia State Board of Elections
    Results, November, 2011
    Pablo A “Paul” Arias 3,167 (45.30%)
    Jennifer Keller Bergel 3,796 (54.30%)
    Margin of win: 629 votes.
    https://www.voterinfo.sbe.virginia.gov/election/DATA/2011/EB178FD6-875D-4B0D-A295-900A0482F523/Official/00_107_s.shtml

  • heart broken says:

    Justice has not prevailed. Both cases were lost.

  • BOEbullies says:

    “If there is honor in not catching fish, there is honor in not catching muskie.”
    — Maine fishermen’s saying

    In other words, when you got Judge Horne, you lost.
    He’s the one that appoints the Board of Equalization.

  • Baron Rosedown says:

    Judge Horne should be ashamed of himself. The Court system in Loudoun is hopelessly compromised and controlled by the GOBGN.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the ACLU steps in and files suit in Federal Court, claiming LCSB lumped all the brown kids into one CL.

  • Hillsboro says:

    Hopefully, Sam Adamo’s behavior will have consequences. I’m not sure I fully understand the emails that have been exposed via FOIA, but he clearly seemed to be undermining the School Board’s authority. At a minimum, I hope that the new board keeps him on a much shorter leash.

  • Hillsboro says:

    I’m very disillusioned with recent decisions coming out of the Loudoun Courts – the BOE case, Sarah Stinger’s FOIA case, and this redistricting call – they all show that the citizens of Loudoun don’t stand a chance.

  • LoCo parent says:

    Hillsboro- the new board members were provided the foia’d documents months ago and still chose not to revisit the boundary debacle. Instead they let it go to court where they knew it would be very unlikely that the petitioners could prevail. I wouldn’t count on them to keep anyone in check. They don’t stray far from the koolaid cooler.

  • Hillsboro says:

    Right or wrong, I can reconcile the current board’s decision to allow this case to go to court. I still have hope that they will persevere against Hatrick & Co.

  • HOAhell says:

    The new board will blame it on the old board. The old board will blame it on the new board. And yes there will be consequences for Sam Adamo: a raise and more rewards for his unwavering fealty to his boss. We will see him again, pitching the value of paying $1,000,000 in bond money for HS 8, the desperately-needed, elitist high school for 800 kids in Lansdowne. That the Board of Supervisors is contemplating purchasing for $20 million for about 20 usable acres that are not worth half that much.
    Loudoun Soccer, Mustang football, and lacrosse leagues will give up 5,000 + events per year at Lansdowne Sports Park and lose $270,000 invested in grass and grading, plus destroy the existing irrigation system.
    The Lansdowne HOA, led by Potomac Station attorney John Whitbeck, has kept silent on this and refused to even allow meetings for the homeowners whose home values are going to plunge because they will be overlooking air-handling units instead of open space.
    Mr. Whitbeck needs to explain himself. Whose side is he on? The side that pays?

  • Legal Eagle says:

    Whitbeck is a lawyer and a Republican, so of course he’s on the side of whoever has the big bucks.

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