FAQs

Fairfax County School Board Member Removal Effort

By the Open FCPS Coalition

What is this removal effort?
The Open FCPS Coalition is gathering voter signatures on paper petitions. Under Virginia election law, these petitions will request that a judge review the record of certain FCPS School Board Members to determine if they were negligent or incompetent in the performance of their duties for failing to offer in-person education for all students, but especially for children with special needs. Read more.

Who is the Open FCPS Coalition?
We are a bi-partisan, grassroots, volunteer group of concerned parents and citizens.

How is this removal process accomplished?
Volunteers circulate hard copies of the removal petition for voters to sign in person. Learn more about circulating a petition.

Can voters sign electronically?
No. Electronic signatures are not valid.

Who can sign?
Any Fairfax County registered voter living within the district boundaries of the school board member. To check which member represents your district, visit: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/myneighborhood/

How many signatures are needed?
The number of signatures required is 10% of the total votes cast in the SB member’s election. This required amount of voter signatures is needed before the petition can be submitted to the court.

What happens when the required number of signatures are collected?
The petitions are submitted to the court for judicial review.

What happens if the judge rules in favor of the petition?
A trial will be held to determine if the SB member should remain in office. The SB member’s trial costs and attorney’s fees are not paid for by FCPS. If the trial results in the SB member being removed from office, a special election will be held.

For which school board members are you collecting signatures?
1.Laura Jane Cohen, Springfield District
2.Elaine Tholen, Dranesville District
3.Abrar Omeish, At-Large Member

How many signatures are needed for each of the above SB members?
1.Cohen, Springfield District: 4,000
2.Tholen, Dranesville District: 3,600
3.Omeish, At-Large Member: 27,000

How many signatures have you collected thus far?
This number is ever-changing as we have many volunteers collecting all over the county. We have some counted, but others that have yet to be turned in, validated and added to the official count. At the time this document was created, we have collected all signatures for Tholen and have 2/3 collected for Cohen. The amount for Omeish is not yet known.

How much time do you have to collect the required signatures?
Our goal is to collect the minimum amount needed for at least one SB member by the end of 20-21 school year. There are 12 school board members.

Why these three?
Our Coalition has been closely observing the board all year and we concentrated on the following:
1.Which SB members consistently advocated (through their public speaking and voting record) to get our kids back in the buildings this year?
2.Which SB members consistently prioritized their time and energy on opening the schools instead of other, less-important issues and projects?
3.Which SB members consistently cautioned Superintendent Brabrand about the lack of planning and readiness to open the schools?
4.Which SB members understood and consistently voiced their concerns about the damage being done to children and the long-term negative impacts to the school system by keeping schools shuttered?

Out of the 12 SB members, only one member did these things in a strong and consistent manner: Megan McLaughlin. In order to focus the efforts of our volunteers and navigate the challenges of circulating paper petitions, we narrowed it down to three SB members according the results of each of their elections. It was determined that Tholen and Cohen were elected by the least number of votes. Based on this discovery, the voters in their districts would likely provide the most support for the removal effort. Knowing that only in-district voters ca nsign for Cohen and Tholen, we also included an at-large member, Abrar Omeish. By doing so, this allows any Fairfax County voter to participate in the removal effort regardless of their district.

How can people sign or help the effort?