A First: School Board Reverses Some Attendance Boundary Changes

In a school system that draws new attendance boundaries almost every year, this is a first.

Seventeen students that were initially slated to change elementary schools this fall will now get to stay put.

The students were initially reassigned to Kenneth Culbert Elementary School in Hamilton, 7 miles from their homes along Thomas Mill Road, but can now remain at Catoctin Elementary in Leesburg.

The Loudoun County School Board voted Tuesday to make the small change to attendance boundaries adopted in March after it came to light that two buses would be picking up just a handful of students on the same road and transporting them to two different schools.

“It really is about a transportation efficiency,” Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) said.

But the decision could cause some ruffled feathers among the 1,100 other students who were reassigned schools.

The three board members who voted against the change raised that concern during a lengthy debate.

A visibly frustrated Eric DeKenipp (Catoctin) noted that the change would push Catoctin Elementary’s enrollment to capacity, and that 600 more homes are slated to be built as part of the proposed Crescent Parke development that would sit in that school’s attendance zone.

“What happens when Catoctin doesn’t have room for those students? We pay for transportation for them to go to another school. I don’t see the efficiency,” he said.

DeKenipp has a personal aversion to how school leaders assign students. He took the School Board to court in 2012 after his daughter was reassigned from her neighborhood school, John W. Tolbert Elementary, to Frederick Douglass Elementary 3 miles away. He lost the case, but the judge urged the School Board to make the process leading to boundary decisions more transparent.

“There are inefficiencies throughout central Loudoun,” he said Tuesday. “And frankly we’re opening the door for every parent who’s unhappy with their school assignment to come in and say, well, this bus passes my house so I should go to this school,” he said.

Tom Marshall (Leesburg) and Debbie Rose (Algonkian) also raised concerns about setting precedent. Joy Maloney (Broad Run) said that’s a concern of hers, but added that the School Board is the one who can decide that going forward, adding, “It’s not like we’re the Supreme Court.”

“Precedent is not going to stop me from doing the right thing here,” said Beth Huck (At Large), who worked with the families along Thomas Mill Road and the Transportation Department to find a solution. “I know it hasn’t been done before, but it’s a way to make it right.”

Leading up to the board’s adoption of the new boundaries in March, parents who live on and near Thomas Mill Road pointed out that that map would mean buses crisscrossing paths. But Hornberger said, unfortunately, their concerns got lost in the larger discussion, and the school system does not have the resources to have the Transportation Department study every attendance map proposed. At times, the School Board has as many as a dozen proposed boundary plans on the table.

“We try the best we can during the attendance process,” he said, “but the county is growing and some small tweaks may need to be made after the fact.”

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4 thoughts on “A First: School Board Reverses Some Attendance Boundary Changes

  • 2016-06-30 at 4:31 pm

    So that’s interesting. The Loudoun judge in the Eric DeKenipp rezoning lawsuit said that the school board needed to be more transparent in its decision-making process. I seem to recall that I brought up this exact point in my comments at the LCSB rezoning hearing on Nov 5, 2015. You can see the video here at time mark 0:47:35. I mentioned the DeKenipp lawsuit and …. was instantly shut down by Eric Hornberger. He wouldn’t let me talk for more than a few seconds of my 2 minutes.

    Hornberger’s viewpoint-based censorship is one of the allegations of unconstitutional behavior in my civil rights lawsuit against LCSB. But their lawyer, the “esteemed” Julia Judkins claims that I was never stopped from speaking. Care to watch that video Julia? Exactly how is LCSB going to claim that comments about the transparency of the process – pretty much the exact comments that the judge in DeKenipp’s case made – are not germane to a discussion on how LCSB rezones for Madison’s Trust? I’m sure Debbie Rose (who still thinks of herself as a lawyer) doesn’t see any hypocrisy or issue with the LCSB position. Why don’t you come to court Debbie so you can be laughed out of the building.

    Folks, this whole process is meant to be secret. About half the plans in the Leesburg rezoning were offered by Hornberger. Yet now he claims the staff can’t be bothered with details since he overloaded them with so many nonsense plans. And Plan 12 was dropped at the last minute. The final “modified Plan 8” was another backroom deal that nobody saw coming until they literally took the vote. The citizens and taxpayers of Loudoun simply have no trust whatsoever in this board to follow the law or act transparently.

    I feel for these parents. I don’t necessarily oppose their final zoning to Catoctin. But I think it’s bad policy to revisit these. Now, as long as you have enough parents to come speak to the board, it’s free season on rezoning all year long. There is absolutely nothing to prevent constant rezonings year round. Certainly nobody believes a word out of these school board members’ mouths!

  • 2016-06-30 at 8:52 pm

    Brian, despite your huge ego, this article is it about you or your witch hunts. Is there any chance that you could censor yourself and only post comments that relate to school and country articles?

    • 2016-07-01 at 6:29 am

      Maybe you missed this part in the article. Eric DeKenipp, a current board member, was so disgusted with the backroom deals that occur in rezoning decisions that he took LCSB to court around 2012-2013 time. The judge in that case chastised LCSB for not being transparent in how they make rezoning decisions. My public comments on Nov 5, 2015; again in March 2016; and now here are essentially the same arguments as that judge.

      I’m sorry your “hero” – fraudster Eric Hornberger – got caught lying again. The public is pretty fed up with this school board. You can see the wheels are starting to come off as none of the new members trust the old school board members. Just wait till they are all testifying in federal court. It’s only going to get harder for them.

  • 2016-07-01 at 11:14 am

    I’m behind your lawsuit 100%. Brian! They are violating sunshine laws. They rush the process for no reason that benefits the public and they create plans in their own closed door echo chamber only to surprise the public with them at vote time. The whole system needs to be reworked.

    What’s not talked about in this round is the previous round on how they destroyed Sycolin Creek and Evergreen Mills. Now that the new development is under way they will have to reverse this realignment in the near future. But meanwhile over 1000 kids were harmed by Ashburn’s unfair advantage over the current SB. Hornberger and Morse sicken me. I would love to see them run out of town.

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