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Judge dismisses effort to remove school board member

FAIRFAX (AP) A judge has dismissed a petition effort launched by parents angered over pandemic-related school closures seeking to remove a northern Virginia school board member from her post.

Fairfax County Judge Richard Gardiner dismissed the petition on Aug. 20 after a special prosecutor, Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney James Hingeley, recommended its dismissal.

An advocacy group called Open FCPS Coalition launched the petition effort against Fairfax County School Board member Elaine Tholen, accusing her of neglecting her duty when she and other board members suspended in-person learning for roughly 12 months during the pandemic.

After the group collected more than 5,000 signatures, a judge was required to hold a hearing under Virginia law.

Fairfax County Public Schools issued a statement on Aug. 20 praising the judge’s decision, saying he saw the petition “for what it was — an attempt by a small number of people to substitute their judgment for that of the full elected School Board.”

The petition drive against Tholen is the first of several launched against school members to come before a judge. Removal petition drives have also been launched against several progressive prosecutors in northern Virginia.

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