Several hundred angry Fairfax County parents gathered at Falls Church High School last week to protest Superintendent L. Linton Deck's proposal to close eight elementary schools in the county.
In anticipation of a large turnout, the school board had moved the meeting from its board room in Fairfax to the high school auditorium. The room was half-full with sign-toting parents before the evening was over.
Although citizens were not permitted to address the board on the topic of school closings -- the public will be allowed to comment at hearings later. this month -- several parents told a reporter they felt they had been double-crossed by school administrators. The parents said they objected to the Deck's proposal to close to close eight schools when citizen advisory committees suggested closing only three.
Much of the meeting was taken up by Deck's discussion of his plan. Parents booed when their schools were mentioned, and broke into thunderous applause when school board member Anthony Lane asked Deck to provide more specific information about the schools.
It appeared, however, that television cameras rather than Deck's proposal was the primary catalyst for the sign-waving and shouting.
Deck told the board that his recommendation was "not the only answer" and reminded the members that "in a sense . . . the decision is in your hands."
The school closing issue is to be decided by the school board May 22.
The board also was challenged by another -- much smaller -- group of citizens who objected to an apparently minor item on the school board agenda. The group said it is opposed to a proposal to observe Martin Lurther a proposal to observe Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday Jan. 18, a holiday which has been officially merged with a traditional Virginia celebration to be called Lee-Jackson-King Day.