School Board Fair to Perry

I am sure that a strong case can be made that the Alexandria School Board should have fired Superintendent Rebecca Perry for her drunken-driving arrest.

I am equally sure that Adam Pearlman's letter ["Setting a Terrible Example," Alexandria-Arlington Extra, May 20] doesn't do the job. His irrational vituperation against the School Board's decision is over the top, way beyond the bounds of civil discourse. He accuses the board of cowardice, hypocrisy, lack of conviction and betrayal of the "community's values, safety and trust." Why he even manages to invoke "threats of terrorism!" Nonsense.

The School Board acted expeditiously, thoroughly, fairly and wisely in deciding that Perry deserved punishment but had earned a second chance by her demonstrated commitment to make the Alexandria schools the best they could be. School Board Chairman Mark Wilcoff deserves kudos, not brickbats, for immediately pulling the board together for an intense series of meetings on the issue. The board worked day and night for a week, obtained all the relevant input and made its difficult decision. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The issue almost immediately fell off the radar screen. Why? Because the community supported the board's decision.

I am often asked what message is sent to the students by retaining Perry. I reply the message is that if you pull a stupid stunt like driving after drinking, you will suffer public humiliation, permanent damage to your reputation, personal heartbreak and severe financial consequences. Your life will never be the same. Just look at what happened to Rebecca Perry.

Peter Coppelman


T.C. Williams High School PTSA

Planning Input Needed

In response to the letter from Kenyon A. Larsen ["Defending Guse-Noritake," Alexandria-Arlington Extra, May 13] regarding open space issues in Alexandria and his invitation that I should "get to know" Open Space Steering Committee Chairman Judy Guse-Noritake, I appreciate the offer.

But since I, like thousands of other interested Alexandrians, can't make 7 a.m. meetings because of getting ready for work and getting my child off to school at that hour of the day, I guess I am out of luck. Perhaps we can become pen pals.

As a fellow board member, one would think it would be a more productive use of Larsen's time to seek ways to build broader consensus and explore ways to include greater and more diverse input into this planning process of his committee, instead of merely defending the status quo. Similarly, questioning how a public board operates is part of the public process and part of good citizenry. All boards should be fully transparent and open to full scrutiny. The entire process is being questioned, not simply the person at the helm who seems to offer little flexibility in her scheduling outlook.

I would also urge council member Redella S. "Del" Pepper (D)and Mayor William D. Euille, who challenged Guse-Noritake at the April 20 work session about the lack of accessibility by the public to these meetings because of their timing, to stiffen their resolve. As Pepper so aptly noted, it is wrong to expect city staff to begin their work day at 7 a.m. and to continue through until 5 p.m. that evening, merely to accommodate the whim of one official on that committee.

We all juggle many balls as workers, parents, partners/spouses, caregivers, neighbors, friends and community members, and we adjust our schedules accordingly. The meeting schedule for voluntary advisory boards is to accommodate the public not the personal preferences of one of the members.

As noted in The Washington Post on May 22 ["Region's Green Space Going Fast," Metro], "28 to 43 square miles of green space in the region" is disappearing each day. Without an organized and aggressive response by Alexandria to protect that diminishing resource, there won't be any need for an open space committee because the open space will be gone and there won't be anything to fight about.

Similarly, council members Ludwig P. Gaines (D) and Rob Krupicka (D) need to up the ante in their proposed open space funds of $10 million and $15 million, respectively, since that's now the going rate for only a few acres in Alexandria. Their initial support is greatly appreciated, but the City Council, the Open Space Steering Committee and the members of the community all need to literally "put their money where their mouth is," and they need to do it soon. Otherwise, by the time the city finally holds public hearings, choice parcels will already be gone, including the coveted Second Presbyterian Church site, and it will be a moot point.

Kathleen M. Burns