Various proposals to allow elected school boards in Virginia -- the only state with such a statewide prohibition -- died yesterday in the House Privileges and Elections Committee.
Supporters of elected school boards tried several approaches, from seeking statewide changes to allowing for referendums to be conducted in specific Northern Virginia localities, such as Fairfax County, Arlington County or Prince William County.
The closest vote, 10 to 8, came on the Arlington-only version. Arlington had the state's only elected school board in the 1950s, until it was abolished by the legislature when Arlington integrated its schools and refused to go along with the state's Massive Resistance campaign against federally mandated integration.
Del. Mary A. Marshall (D-Arlington) said the election of a black to the Arlington County Board obviates past arguments that minorities would not be represented if Arlington voters elected School Board members.
Del. James H. Dillard II (R-Fairfax), pleading for the Fairfax bill, said the Board of Supervisors there exercises "prior restraint and censorship" on the School Board, which it appoints.
But most committee members apparently agreed with Chairman Ford C. Quillen (D-Scott), who said that under the present system, "Fairfax has some of the best schools in the nation. You ought to be proud."