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January 22, 2020 · OPINION

Administration actions defy schools’ strategic plan

File Photo
Journalism teacher Shelly Norden, who ran unsuccessfully for the school board in November, got removed from her position at Kettle Run High in December and reassigned to teach English at Fauquier High this month.
By DeJuanna Parker, Ph.D.

If you drive past Home Depot, you will arrive at Brumfield Elementary School.

Who was Jim Brumfield? He was the deputy superintendent at the helm of Fauquier County Public Schools when I arrived in the early 1980s to teach at Fauquier High.

This administrator, with whom I had the pleasure to engage on many occasions during my tenure as an English teacher, never failed to encourage me to continue my work to impact students’ lives . . . . Put a pin in that.

When you visit the school division website, you will find (if you click on the Strategic Plan), the Mission Statement, goals and objectives professed to guide the thinking and actions of the schools in Fauquier County. If you read this document, you will find sentiments such as “FCPS is committed to developing creative, confident, and knowledgeable citizens who are globally-competitive…”, “We will treat all people with dignity and respect.”, and “Each student will have access to a rigorous and engaging curriculum.”

These ideas, of course, are demonstrations of the school division’s commitment to its students. So unless these words are mere platitudes, school division executives have the responsibility to build the capacity for these ideas to be manifested, and we as a community have an obligation to hold them accountable to their responsibilities.

I suggest that when you remove an award-winning teacher who had led students to produce two award-winning publications, and turn those students and those programs over to a novice (Nothing against novice teachers. All teachers were novices at some time in their career), and then limit the veteran teacher’s ability to do the work in which she is most expert, then you, my dear superintendent, are not living up to the statements in the Strategic Plan that you approved.

My great grandmother always said that if you don’t mean what you say, then you shouldn’t say it. You see, by taking Shelley Norden out of her journalism teaching position and duties at Kettle Run, you have not treated “all people with respect and dignity.” You have not ensured that “each student will have access to a rigorous end engaging curriculum.”

If you, Dr. Jeck, and your central office executives, didn’t really mean those words, they never should have been written in the plan.

Back to Jim Brumfield . . . . I can imagine that with all of the dust that has been kicked up around Mrs. Norden’s scrutiny of actions, practices and decisions, and her asking hard questions about spending, funding, initiatives, and corruption, that Mr. Brumfield may have been somewhat offended personally, but never would have retaliated professionally by removing a teacher from her post and trying to make her life miserable.

I believe that he would have called the executive team together to work on a solution – to find answers, to address questions head-on and not just given standard issue non-responses. If the actions of you and your central office staff to date are reflections of your character, you, Dr. Jeck, will never be honored with a school named after you.
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SobiesławWalczak · February 6, 2020 at 10:46 am
Dziękujemy, @DeJuanna Parker, za podzielenie się swoją dobrą opinią na temat działan administracyjnych przeciwnych planowi strategicznemu szkoł. Bardzo się ciesze, ze wiem o tych dobrych informacjach o szkole podstawowej w Brumfield. Każda firma i organizacja potrzebuje odpowiedniej strategii rozwoju. Pracuję rownież jako profesjonalny strateg biznesowy. Zainteresowani mogą Sitechecker dowiedziec sie wiecej o strategicznym planie marketingowym. Mam również dobrą wiedzę i doświadczenie w branży marketingu cyfrowego. Bardzo więc doceniam to, że podzieliłeś sie swoją dobrą myslą. Dziękuję Ci.!
DonkeyFarmer · February 2, 2020 at 11:18 pm
Jim was not hiding his name so I don't think he was trying to trick anyone here. However for someone that was a journalist, he should understand disclosure.

It's just pretty sad to me that the adults that are supposed to be teaching our children are involved in Facebook fights. And now I find out half the people commenting on here are school teachers. Silli. Thank you shelly norden for that.
Jim Griffin · February 1, 2020 at 3:39 pm
I simply offer comment like anyone else commenting. I have no connection other than as a citizen sharing my opinion. I've never so much as shared a meal with Dr. Jeck, but I am supportive of those running our schools and local government. We moved here because it is a good place to raise our son and the schools are good.

No one is bias free, least of all me. I have opinions that I share here as do many others. I like Lou Emerson and am partial towards journalists and newspaper people because I was one and represented them for years as an International Representative for The Newspaper Guild.

As a journalist, I believe in transparency, but I draw the line at personnel records due to privacy implications. I am very respectful of copyright, knowing that people own their words and expressions and have the right to authorize (or not) their use.

BTW, no, I am not a lawyer, but am an expert on global copyright issues (I've testified before Congress a number of times and before Copyright Royalty Board proceedings and at the UN) and especially with regards to digital. Yes, I teach copyright law at NOVA. Yes, my wife was your friend until you unfriended her on Facebook, and no, I don't think she filed a complaint about a picture.

I think it was wrong of you to attribute my words to her. I do not put words in her mouth, she doesn't put them in mine. We have two different opinions, sometimes more!

Stacie is a good person keenly interested in helping the schools. I teach for fun and because copyright is a topic I enjoy and an issue at the heart of digital delivery. NOVA and the Virginia community college system are terrific resources.

Stacie volunteers to help the Model UN kids -- most of whom worked with you. She gives many a weekend to them. Stacie volunteers to run Excellence in Education to raise resources for the schools, and she naturally stepped in to help raise grant money for the schools, a task she performed first as a volunteer. She was a lunch lady because she wanted to experience it and work in our schools.

Where I disagree with you is in pitting the staff versus the line in our school system. We need teachers working with a fully-staffed and supportive central office. Stacie works hard to get teachers the resources they want and she is very successful at doing so -- it's truly at two-person job at minimum, one raising resources, the other accounting for them and their on-going report-writing and maintenance.

Arguing against a strong central office is in my opinion a false dichotomy, just as with soldiers, sports teams or any group exercise.

As for throwing daggers, there are those -- usually they are journalists -- who think your critics are your best friends. I certainly enjoy a good argument. Lincoln put it best -- if two people think the same about something, we don't need one of them. Unfortunately, many around here cannot disagree without being disagreeable.
shellynorden · February 1, 2020 at 2:42 pm
I also worked as a journalist which is why all of my posts are fact based and come directly from FOIA requests.
I thought you taught at a community college and was not aware you were a lawyer.
When I met your wife, she was a lunch lady in my school. She told me more than once that they were good friends.
We were friendly until she filed complaints about my picture in Fauquier Now and my the FOIA Information I shared updating the progress of the new job.
This is the last time I will engage in any dialogue here with you. I offered to meet with you months ago, but it appears it’s much easier to sit behind a computer and throw daggers at anyone with a differing opinion.
People need to understand your connection to all of this, and know that it is certainly not bias free.
Jim Griffin · January 30, 2020 at 5:00 am
I teach copyright law. Devoted more than a decade to representing journalists (after working for years as a journalist) before moving to LA to work in the music business. Moved here to work on copyright public policy.

My wife writes grants for Fauquier County Schools. Did it for free, transitioned to part-time job working for the schools. Raises many times more than what she makes (contrary to your false claim on Facebook during the campaign). She loves the schools, volunteers running the Excellence in Education organization. You two were friendly until the day you held her responsible for a comment I wrote here. Shame that; she had nothing to do with it. My words are my own.

Doxing people in the comment section is beneath you, Shelly. Or so I thought, but again you sink lower. Will there be no end to your shame?

People deserve their privacy if that is what they want -- that includes Silii, my wife, my 16yo son -- whomever. I know quite a few of the names behind the screen names but I would not reveal them. You clearly think differently, but that's no surprise -- you're scorching the earth in a fine community.

You were by all accounts a fine teacher until you were passed over for a job, after which it seems bitterness consumed you. You take it out on the superintendent, but you should take a long look in the mirror if you want to examine the cause. And shame on the pseudonymous screen names that appear to do your bidding against our schools.
shellynorden · January 29, 2020 at 11:13 pm
I’m not sure where you are getting your legal advice- I can share the report with whomever I chose, and that information will all be released. I think taxpayers will be amazed when they read how their tax dollars have been wasted on nonsense.
As for the Board of Supervisors- they hold the purse strings, but that’s the extent of their control over the school board. My move to FHS has nothing to do with them.
In full disclosure, I think people need to know your wife was hired by Jeck for a central office position.
As for Siliis...People would have more respect for your opinion Mike if you used your name and stopped hiding behind an alias.
Jim Griffin · January 29, 2020 at 8:43 pm
Authors have a copyright in the words they write. Before you reproduce/distribute words written by others, get permission.

That's federal law. As regards investigatory or personnel records, state and county laws and policies may apply.

Nonetheless, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
shellynorden · January 29, 2020 at 8:02 pm
Thank you Jim Griffin. I believe I will now release all the investigation documents to the media. I think people will be interested in reading about the two people who filed them and why. I have nothing to hide.
Jim Griffin · January 23, 2020 at 11:23 am
Pseudonymous attack does not do this issue justice. My experience runs counter to yours; He certainly takes matters seriously.

Much of this county wants no public schools at all. Our fastest growing population segment is retired. Many others think public schools represent socialism. Lots of people send their kids to private schools.

If budgets determine salaries then Northam is seriously underpaid. As is the Governor of California. But that's not how things work.

If you disagree with school decisions, school board meetings are open. Personnel matters are reserved for private sessions, as they should be, but they are open for public comment.

No question about it: Your experience with Jeck stands in stark contrast to my own. I see great value in his experience and judgment, and I know him by the fine administrators and teachers I've met as our son has advanced through the grades.

I wish teaches were paid better, but reality has us working from a tax base limited by conservation easements that hurt Fauquier when state funds are allocated.

Please get Richmond to address that, Delegate Webert.

In the meantime, you are entitled to your opinion but I think it absurd to call Dr. Jeck a "waste" or "a joke" or worse still "corrupt" -- an allegation you levy also on the *newly-elected* board.

Admit it: You simply disagree with him.

Likewise substituting your (and mine) uninformed personnel judgment for that of the superintendent, staff and the boards that oversee these decisions.
HearBetweetTheLines · January 23, 2020 at 11:03 am
Jim, that's my point. Jeck is IMO and having to deal directly with him and his office he is absolutely a waste. Not taking serious matters seriously. Not only on one occasion I might add. I would gladly use my personal money to buy him a one way ticket back to CA.
Jim Griffin · January 23, 2020 at 10:47 am
Markets determine salaries. Supply and demand. There is a limited list of Virginia-qualified superintendents.

Others in our local govt and school system make six-figure salaries in line with Jeck. This is what it takes to get quality work.

Set the salary as the public wants and try to hire from the short list of people qualified to do the job. Compare to his predecessor. Loudoun County, even. You will come to a different conclusion.

There is *nothing* about speaking up that cost Norden her job. Nothing. If it was, then the school board and Board of Supervisors should step in and override that decision, which is their call. My understanding based on no direct involvement and none of the facts is that they did get involved and this is the result.

In fact, these are personnel matters. Neither of us is privy to the facts and complaints filed and reviewed. Supposing we know better is fiction.
HearBetweetTheLines · January 23, 2020 at 10:39 am
Jim, please do me a favor and line up Loudoun County school budget VS Fauquier County school budget. HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!

FC cannot afford to pay their school employees a competitive wage, why should the school superintendent have a unfairly high pay?

This is all dirty politics, Mrs. Norden questioned it and lost her job for speaking up.
DonkeyFarmer · January 23, 2020 at 10:24 am
I have not lived here very long, can someone fill me in on the corruption or problems with superintendent Jeck? It seems like every time there is an article on our schools, someone here has something to say about him.

So lets hear it. What's the deal?
Jim Griffin · January 23, 2020 at 10:18 am
HBTL: How much does Loudoun pay its superintendent?

Answer: About double what Jeck makes, which puts your notion of "posh" to the test.

Jeck and Northam make roughly the same salary, an amount set by the market for Virginia school superintendents, the supply of which is restricted to a short list of qualified candidates.

Sound like you disagree with him on some issues. BTW, he answers to the school board, which is elected. He cannot corrupt it because he works for them and the Board of Supervisors.
HearBetweetTheLines · January 23, 2020 at 10:10 am
Perfectly written DeJuanna! Dr Jeck and his administration is all a joke compared to the past. I even dare say he is the sole reason why the school board is so corrupt these days. If we dare to speak up like Mrs. Norden did, your career in the school system is over. There is just too many skeletons and dirty money hidden away for the truth to come out.

I myself have had the unfortunate experience having to deal with Dr. Jeck and his team for the 6 years and after moving here from Loudoun it is a embarrassment how him and his team treats the parents and students who needs him to step up.

He just sits in his posh office collecting his posh paycheck that by the way is higher than what the Governor Of Virginia earns.

Maybe look into corruption, because if one man is paid that much and is not doing his job, then we have a problem.
Jim Griffin · January 23, 2020 at 8:49 am
Silii gets it right: Personnel actions will not, should not get a public airing from those involved.

As for treating “all people with respect and dignity,” tell it to Shelly. The way I hear it, her colleagues have much to say on this topic.

People say she was a terrific teacher until she was passed over for a particular job she sought, which is a shame if true.

Neither is it clear these moves were unilaterally made by the superintendent. He answers to several boards, including the school board and the Board of Supervisors.

I know one thing from personal experience: David Jeck is a fine superintendent of our schools. I've met him, taken his measure and am very impressed, both as a taxpayer and as parent of a student at Kettle Run. We are fortunate he works here in this role.
Silii · January 22, 2020 at 3:29 pm
Personnel actions are confidential so, absent the records, nobody know what has gone on. Quit dissing the superintendent. The public doesn't know what Ms. Norden did and she, of course, will never admit any wrongdoing. Teachers aren't reassigned just for nothing.
Truepat · January 22, 2020 at 12:41 pm
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