School Board Rubber Stamps “Equity Policy” in Wee Hours

In a bizarre meeting that sometimes proved the “Law of Triviality,” the Fairfax County School Board unanimously approved a controversial “Equity Policy” at 12:30 a.m. on June 27.

How the Meeting Unfolded

The School Board’s meetings are user-unfriendly.  They begin at 7:00 p.m., but the discussion of pending business often doesn’t begin until 9:00 p.m. or later, making it difficult for citizens to attend.  Before the meaty part of the meetings (if there is any meat, and often there isn’t), proclamations and recognitions are read and speechified about.  Citizen participation follows (two minutes each by about 15 people), and then presentations to the Board about miscellaneous subjects are delivered.  Only then does the Board consider action items.

The June 26 meeting was an egregious example.  It began a bit late (at 7:15), and then four proclamations were presented.  There were two tributes to retiring staffers, a tribute to this year’s student representative to the Board, and a presentation of a scholarship to an outstanding high school senior.  On each of the four, all twelve Board members felt compelled to speak, so there were about 48 speeches! This took two hours, concluding at 9:20.  (On a personal note, two of my neighbors were attending their first School Board meeting.  It will probably be their last.)

Next came the citizen presentations, most of which focused on the proposed Equity Policy.  These were followed by an update from the school Superintendent about special education issues, a speech by the outgoing student representative to the Board, and a slide show about possible changes to school boundaries.  It was now 10:30 p.m.

Four action items were on the agenda: (1) approval of amendments to the Student Rights & Responsibilities regulation (SR&R), (2) approval of the proposed Equity Policy, (3) approval of amendments to the Board’s policy regarding proclamations at Board meetings, and (4) approval of a proposed increase in the salaries of School Board members.  This is where the meeting spiraled into the absurd.

Dozens of amendments to the 75-page SR&R were being proposed for the 2023-24 school year.  The discussion at the Board meeting dealt with one word on page 6o.  The word is in a sentence dealing with parental involvement in possible disciplinary actions involving students with intellectual or developmental disabilities.  The sentence currently provides that school officials won’t seek written or oral statements from these students about disciplinary matters until a parent or guardian has been notified.  A Board member proposed to change “has been notified” to “has given consent.”  The next ninety minutes of the meeting were focused on the proposal to change this one-word.  In the end, the Board members couldn’t agree, so the issue was deferred to the next Board meeting for further discussion.

So, it was 10:55 p.m. when the Board finally turned its attention to the Equity Policy.  The “Law of Triviality” posits that the amount of time spent on an agenda item by a bureaucracy will be inversely proportional to its importance or complexity, e.g., in a discussion of the design of a nuclear power plant, the most time will be spent discussing the quality of toilet tissue to stock in the restrooms.  That law was definitely at work at the Board meeting.  The Equity Policy was deemed to be monumental and tremendously important, but there was no discussion whatsoever of its vague language or controversial features.

The Board members, one by one, misleadingly asserted that the process of developing the policy was extraordinarily inclusive, never once mentioning that its text had been quietly released for the first time twelve days earlier, after the schools had recessed for the summer.  Every Board member emphasized the noncontroversial aspects of the policy without acknowledging that there are legitimate issues about its intent and scope.  When the vote was taken at 12:23 a.m., the policy was unanimously approved.

The meeting then turned to a proposed amendment to the Board’s policy for considering proclamations like the four that had consumed the first two hours of the meeting.  The Board promptly approved an amendment to the policy, designed to expand the number of proclamations that can be presented at Board meetings.

Finally, the Board discussed a proposal to increase the salaries of Board members by 50%, from $32,000 to $48,000 per year.  This was approved at 12:50 a.m.


The proposed Equity Policy is indeed an important one.  “Equity” is a vague term that can have many controversial connotations, and there’s no doubt that the “equity” bureaucracy in the Fairfax County School System intends to use it to push contentious proposals.  That’s why it should have been important to go slow, obtain input from the entire community, and try to build a consensus policy.  Unfortunately, the School Board showed no interest in pausing to get it right.  They rammed it through in the wee hours of the morning, without debate.  The public will have to be vigilant to oppose the most pernicious dangers posed by this policy.

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  1. gino marchetti on June 27, 2023 at 7:41 pm

    Mark is spot on. This meeting was a farce. We were the neighbors who went to the meeting with him. We thought it was going to be primarily about the equity policy, and he’s right, we’ve attended our last board meeting. Our tax dollars are certainly not very well spent, ad now, with the raise, more of them will be squandered.

  2. Asra Nomani on June 27, 2023 at 8:16 pm

    Thank you for your important service to the community as a scribe, analyst and watch dog!

  3. Bill on June 28, 2023 at 1:26 am

    The term “stakeholder” is mentioned five times in the draft policy. One bullet under Section V. Accountability ironically states: “Ensuring stakeholder feedback is central to all decision-making processes.”

    The draft policy document is intentionally vague enough that a truck could be driven through it, and of course “stakeholder” is never defined. Its clear the bureaucratic maneuvering, timing, and illusory “community input” was set up exactly to mitigate the risk of “those pesky stakeholders” from being aware and involved. Based on Mark’s recap, its apparent the board meeting was just rubber stamp theater to provide the appearance of an open process.

    I doubt the people drafting the policy behind closed doors consider the Fairfax County property taxpayers to be stakeholders, even though those stakeholders are directly funding $2.4 B of the ~3.5B 2024 FCPS budget with the general expectation that their hard earned dollars are being wisely spent.

    When he was Governor of New York, Mario (not Andrew) Cuomo emphasized in a speech that if citizens weren’t actively monitoring and involved in what their government was doing then they would get the government they deserved. That’s clearly the situation here with the FCPS board and staff, which is successfully flying well under the property taxpayer radar who are footing the bills. As such, Fairfax County is getting the school board it deserves along with the “privilege” of paying for it on an annual basis.

    • Mark Spooner on June 28, 2023 at 7:08 am

      Bill: Thanks for your comment. I learned early on in my research that the term “stakeholders” in FCPS doesn’t refer to all of us in Fairfax County, or even to everyone who might be affected by or have an interest in a policy. It usually refers to the special interest groups that are supportive of what FCPS wants to do, such as teachers’ unions, the NAACP, PRIDE, etc.

  4. Margaret+Fisher on June 28, 2023 at 6:54 am

    I wish I could just decide one day to increase my own salary! Thank you for staying until the end, Mark.

    • Mark Spooner on June 28, 2023 at 7:04 am

      Margaret: Thanks for your comment. Actually, the salary increase was the least of my concerns. The existing salary — $32,000 — is absurdly low for what is expected from members of the School Board. I only wish that we got more for our money from them … Quality education rather than the constant focus on indoctrination.

      • Mark Spooner on June 28, 2023 at 7:12 am

        Margaret: I should have added this: Although I fully support the salary increase, it’s not something that should be voted on at 1:00 a.m.

  5. richard fangman on June 28, 2023 at 8:21 am

    It’s amazing to see the tactics the board utilizes to get their agenda through. I applaud Mark for his continuing monitoring and sharing their very questionable activities. The education of our children is so very important. The focus in many schools seems to be away from learning the basics and directed towards spreading ideologies. A side note-The meeting could very well be a preview of what an eternity in Hell will be like-Repent and be saved. Ha, ha.

    • Mark Spooner on June 28, 2023 at 9:55 am

      Dick: Thanks for your comment.

  6. Steve Quiner on June 28, 2023 at 11:42 am

    Great job as usual. Surprise, Surprise.

    Question: will all these gyrations improve students; skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic?

  7. Justin on June 28, 2023 at 7:13 pm

    Government at its finest! Mark is the real MVP.

  8. Geoffrey Akey on June 30, 2023 at 9:09 pm

    Mark, thanks for this discussion on the meeting. I could not stay after 11:00pm. And this problem is by design, of course, to keep the community out by filibustering with fluff for three hours.

    Amazing to me that anyone would vote for a policy that enforces an “Equity Officer”, who can throw a wrench into the works of the superintendent. We pay the superintendent a heck of a lot of money, and our board has no problem putting an Equity Officer in her way. And it costs a lot of money to create that broken administration.

    Equity Policy is designed to enforce the woke objectives, including dividing children from their parents, sexualizing our children, compelling speech, racist “social justice”, grooming, leftist political indoctrination, etc.

    Amazing to me how obvious was their handpicked list of speakers at the “community participation.”

  9. Emilio Jaksetic on July 4, 2023 at 10:29 am

    The scheduling and timing of the public comment session pertaining to the proposed Equity Policy was neither fair nor reasonable. Absent the need to promptly respond to an obvious emergency (e.g., earthquake, tornado, devastating flood, wildfires), the Fairfax County Government (including the School Board) should not place serious policy matters on an accelerated schedule and allocate an insultingly inadequate time for public comment. Furthermore, scheduling a vote to occur immediately at the close of a public comment session is also an affront to meaningful representative democracy. On April 10, 2023, the Bull Elephant website posted an opinion piece I wrote entitled “Inadequacy of Fairfax County Public Comment Time.” ( In that opinion piece I wrote the following:

    “Timing of public comment portion. If the public comment portion is scheduled to be held during a public meeting at which a formal vote will be taken right after the public comment portion ends, then the timing for public comments is unfair and unreasonable.

    It is unfair and unreasonable to schedule time for public comment on a proposed measure to occur just before a formal vote will be taken on the proposed measure. What is the likelihood that officials — who have seen documentation, been briefed by County staff, and have had time to think about a proposal for days or weeks before the public comment portion of a meeting — will be able to give fair, thoughtful consideration to last minute comments or objections made by people who are limited to 3 minutes (for individual speakers) and 5 minutes (for representatives of organizations)? If Fairfax County officials have scheduled a formal vote on a proposal to occur at a particular public meeting, then they are not likely to arrive at the public meeting undecided about the scheduled vote. After all, how many voters arrive at a polling place on election day without any idea of how they intend to vote? It is unlikely that Fairfax County officials show up for a scheduled formal vote without any idea of how they intend to vote.

    If Fairfax County officials are really interested in hearing from the people in Fairfax County about the merits of a proposed measure, then they should schedule a public meeting to solicit public comment (written and oral), and then take a meaningful amount of time to consider the public comments before making a formal decision or taking a formal vote at a future public meeting.”

    • Mark Spooner on July 4, 2023 at 2:23 pm

      Emilio: You are absolutely right.

  10. H. Jay Spiegel on July 5, 2023 at 7:37 pm

    What you didn’t mention is that Mount Vernon School Board member Karen Corbett Sanders announced at the beginning of the meeting that the equity policy would be approved. This was prior to the portion of the meeting when constituents provided public comment. So much for the notion that the School Board considers the comments of taxpayers.

  11. Karen Sale on July 6, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    Bus drivers were given a 3% salary increase. I understand that if people are not given at least a 5% increase to combat the current inflation, they are falling behind, not getting ahead or even keeping up. They’re not getting an increase at all.

    When fcps says they are concerned about a shortage of bus drivers, I don’t believe they are that concerned.