FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (FOX 5 DX) - Fairfax County Public Schools and the county’s Special Education Parent Teacher Association had a heart-to-heart conversation about the county’s troubles protecting its special needs students.
This was the first meeting of the new year between the Special Education PTA and the school district since back to back incidents involving special needs students and abuse.
It’s also the first meeting under the district’s new Special Education Director Michael Bloom who FOX 5 has been requesting to interview since the first week of January.
Bloom took over after his predecessor vanished around the same time reports surfaced saying FCPS was disproportionately restraining and secluding students with special needs without reporting the encounters to the Department of Education.
Initially, no explanation was given to FOX 5 for Michael Bloom’s unavailability.
FOX 5’s Tisha Lewis made requests to interview Bloom:
• January 8th
• January 9th
• January 10th
• January 16th
• January 23rd
Each time, a Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson said FCPS was checking into FOX 5’s request to speak with Bloom and ultimately after more than three weeks, FCPS said the new Special Education Director is unavailable to answer FOX 5’s questions about how to restore the district’s relationship with the special needs community after multiple incidents.
Bloom took over mid-November after former Special Education Director Irene Meier went on leave and never returned.
Meier abruptly left as alarming reports were surfacing about students with special needs reportedly suffering abuse on Fairfax County Public Schools campuses.
The most recent incident involves a former principal and two former staff members, now facing criminal charges for reportedly assaulting students with special needs and not reporting it.
The county’s Special Education PTA is finally presenting their recommendations to the district which include consistency regarding policies across the district, enhanced communication and more.
FOX 5’s Tisha Lewis reports the district refused to discuss seclusion and restraint either the county’s Special Education PTA.
An FCPS spokesperson says the district declined the on-camera interviews due to pending litigation, however, they answered questions in an email.