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Honoring Muslim and Jewish Holidays:  Confirming last year’s victory with the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) in obtaining a commitment to protect Muslim and Jewish students from being academically penalized when they miss school due to religious obligations, Muslim parents in Fairfax just received emails from FCPS, written in Arabic as well as English, explaining that if their kids need to fast during Ramadan (May 15 - June 14) they now have a choice: They can either have their SOL tests rescheduled or ask for an early-morning exam time so kids can take the test while their energy level is still high. Our Muslim VOICE parents see this as a sign the school system has gained a new level of awareness.

Organizing with Latino Herndon parents to make sure kids can safely get to school: An action team meeting was held in Herndon with over 40 parents from Hutchison Elementary and VOICE leaders from Floris UMC, Northern VA Hebrew Congregation, Trinity Presbyterian & St. Mary's Episcopal. Many spoke up about safety issues near the school, particularly a dangerous traffic intersection where two parents have already been hit by a car.

Listening to students: VOICE’s Schools Team conducted listening sessions with Fairfax high school students. A listening session focused on youth was held at the Reston Regional Library, led by VOICE leaders from Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation (NVHC). The nine youths from grades 8 through 11 who participated were all members of the library’s Teen Advisory Board. The issue they raised was concern over safety in the wake of the Parkland school shooting and what appears to them to be inadequate safeguards, especially at the elementary schools, and insufficient training for teachers and counselors on this.

Listening to principals: VOICE’s Schools Team conducted a listening session with 70+ Fairfax County principals on April 19. A team of VOICE Muslim and Jewish leaders worked with the principals in two different breakout sessions at an FCPS Principals’ Event. The purpose was twofold: to continue ensuring that Muslim and Jewish holidays are honored in FCPS, and to identify talented principals and build relationships with them to find allies in our larger schools-organizing effort. 

Research action on public transit loss: VOICE leaders from Vienna Baptist Church and Emmaus United Church of Christ partnered with parents and the PTA of Cunningham Park Elementary School to assess public transportation needs after the loss of the 2T Metrobus route last June. The face-to-face surveys and conversations conducted with 41 parents indicate that the loss of the 2T bus has seriously disrupted the lives of residents and families. More than 30 of the parents expressed interest in helping to organize an effort to restore bus service. 

Item Date: 
Saturday, September 15, 2018