Virginians Seek America’s First School Closure-Related Recall Of Board Member

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Virginia parents submitted thousands of signatures Monday in an attempt to recall a Fairfax County school board member over her opposition for returning to in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board member Elaine Tholen is accused of neglecting her duty for opting to keep schools closed for 12 months during the pandemic, according to WTOP News. The Open FCPS Coalition claims to have submitted around 5,000 signatures for the recall, far more than the 3,500 that are required.

If a recall election is triggered, Tholen would become the first school board official in America to face a recall over support of school closures during the pandemic. Tholen can ask the Fairfax County Circuit Court, which received the signatures, to throw out the petition. A judge can decide whether to dismiss the recall or take it to a trial, at which Tholen could be removed from office and a special election would be held, according to WTOP.

Tholen told WTOP she’s “always put students first.” She added she is looking “forward to continuing to earn my constituents’ trust and support as we prepare to welcome all students in person five days per week.” (RELATED: High School Teacher Offers Extra Credit For Students To Testify On Anti-CRT Bill)

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) offered their support to Tholen, calling the petition “misguided.”

“The decision to conduct classes online was a difficult decision, but it was the right one,” the school system added in a statement.

While FCPS says it will be reopening for five days per week of in-person learning in the fall, some parents are still concerned about what that may look like. Lingering questions include whether or not students will be required to wear masks, and if teachers will all be teaching in-person or if they will be allowed to teach remotely via video.

“Parents have been left in the dark about these issues, and as such have real doubts as to whether the Fairfax County school system is even serious about opening up full time, in-person for the fall,” coalition member Ian Tompkins said. (RELATED: REPORT: Public School In Virginia Holds ‘Antiracist’ Event For White People Only)

The coalition is reportedly collecting signatures in an attempt to recall two additional members of the board, Laura Jane Cohen and Abrar Omeish.