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Fairfax, Scott County School Boards Oppose Eliminating ‘Continuing Contract’

In a move with implications for the 2013 General Assembly, the Fairfax County School Board—which governs the Commonwealth’s largest school division—Thursday approved a motion opposing the elimination of “Continuing Contracts.”

The unanimous vote, on a motion brought by school board member Kathy Smith, puts the school division on record as opposing legislation, such as a measure introduced last year, that would subject veteran teachers to dismissal with no reason given and no rights to due process. It came after concerted efforts by the Fairfax Education Association.

 “I am delighted that Mrs. Smith brought forth this important amendment,” FEA President Michael Hairston said after the vote. “The attempt by legislators in Richmond to scapegoat teachers is undeserved. When the largest school system in the state unanimously supports the system currently in place, it should send a clear message to the members of the General Assembly that their time would be better spent addressing real issues facing the Commonwealth.”

On the same night that Fairfax adopted its measure, school board members in Scott County also voted in favor of a resolution to preserve continuing contract, according to Justin Forrester, president of the Scott County Education Association. In unanimously passing the resolution, board members indicated they thought eliminating continuing contract would hurt the school division’s ability to recruit and retain the best teachers, he said.

Legislation to eliminate continuing contract passed the House of Delegates but failed in the Senate last year. VEA members played a key role in defeating the flawed bill, sending thousands of messages to their representatives. The bill, HB 576, is being carried over from last session to the upcoming session, which begins in January.

Hairston said continuing contracts allow teachers a fair dismissal process to make sure that safeguards are put in place so they cannot be fired arbitrarily. “The vast majority of teachers do a good job under difficult circumstances,” said Hairston. “Focusing on the few ineffective teachers is a distraction from the real priority—ensuring that every child has qualified, caring, and committed teachers.”

Forrester said board members in Scott County understand the link between quality education, strong teaching, and continuing contracts. “Scott County has always scored well on SoL tests, and our school board says that the main reason is that we hire and support the best teachers,” he said. “If we lose continuing contract, the best teachers are going to go to Kentucky, to Tennessee, to North Carolina. We won’t be competitive any more.”

Learn more and access VEA resources. Go to this page to learn more about Continuing Contract and access our resources to help protect it.


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