Fairfax County School Superintendent Robert R. Spillane, barraged by criticism from county officials for writing and releasing an angry letter this week to Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.), said yesterday he would not apologize.
"He said he felt what he needed to say," said Dolores Bohen, a spokesman for Spillane.
"He's not apologizing."
On Tuesday, Spillane's office released his reply to a letter from Parris asking the county to resolve a long-running dispute and help a Springfield couple, John and Betty Schimmel, obtain state funds to pay for their son's education at a private special education school in Vermont.
In his reply, which rejected the Parris' request, Spillane said Parris' letter was "shoddy, if not sloppily conceived" and "factually inaccurate in nearly every important respect."
The tone of Spillane's letter and its release before Parris had received it -- he said he still had not seen it as of yesterday -- prompted complaints from several Republican School Board members and county supervisors.
But Bohen said Spillane's office received dozens of telephone calls from citizens, all expressing support.
Parris said yesterday that he was considering going back to the U.S. Education Department to seek help for the Schimmels.
Last year, the department investigated Fairfax County's special education program at the urging of a group that Betty Schimmel was a founder of and found no major problems.
Parris said he does not think Spillane should resign, but added that if he were Spillane's boss, he would tell him that "if he's going to continue to engage in this kind of bizarre activity . . . I'd think very seriously about asking him to rethink his position. At least he and I would have a strong conversation about the propriety" of his remarks.
Parris said he received a telephoned apology for the tone of Spillane's letter from county board Chairman John F. Herrity, and that three Republican supervisors -- Thomas M. Davis III of Mason District, T. Farrell Egge of Mount Vernon District and Elaine N. McConnell of Springfield District -- expressed their regrets to him at a Thursday afternoon fund-raiser for Herrity.
School Board Chairman Mary E. Collier and Vice Chairman Joy G. Korologos told Spillane on Wednesday that they thought the tone of the letter was inappropriate and that it should not have been released to reporters before Parris saw it.
But they and other School Board members contacted yesterday backed Spillane's version of the facts of the case and said his job is not in jeopardy.
"No one asked him to apologize," said Korologos, who was appointed to the School Board by Herrity. "There's no leaning on Spillane to do anything but continue doing the good job he's been doing."
Korologos wrote Parris on Wednesday expressing her "personal regret at the tone of Dr. Spillane's recent letter to you . . . . I want you to know that this School Board member disassociates herself from Dr. Spillane's intemperate personal attack."
The Schimmel case centers on the issue of whether the county should pay for the couple's son's tuition at a Vermont boarding school. County officials contend that the school is not accredited by Virginia for special education, and want the youth to attend a Charlottesville school. The Schimmels argue that the Charlottesville school is more expensive and not as good for their son, and they challenge the procedures used in recommending that he be placed there.