School board


After the first day of school on Aug. 12, children came home reporting to parents that Farquharson yelled at students and denied them opportunities to use the bathroom, go to the nurses office, or use the microwave in the cafeteria.  She also held the entire fifth grade class from going to recess.

John Flick, a parent of an FMS student, started a petition on to demand the resignation of Farquharson which (as of Aug. 14) has 176 signatures.

“After speaking with the principal, she told me in her words that it was a ‘culture shock.’  Certainly.  We’re not used to that kind of behavior from an administrator.  This is completely unacceptable,” said Flick.  “We need to find a principal who respects children and will demonstrate the proper way to conduct oneself.”

Farquharson comes to Fluvanna from Petersburg City Schools, a district very different from Fluvanna both in poverty rates and demographics.  Three in four children in Petersburg receive free and reduced lunch at school, one in four children come from a single parent household, and 80 percent are children of color.  Fluvanna is almost the inverse – a rural district with 20 percent children of color and a median income 16 percent higher than that of Petersburg.

“We’re not talking about an urbanized environment, this is Fluvanna County,” said parent Richard Warden.  “The kids cannot even walk down the hall and socialize.  This is middle school, this is not a chain gang.”

Stephanie Frazier, a teacher at FMS defended Farquharson.

“From what I noticed, I saw a projected voice – I did not see yelling,” said Frazier.  “I do believe that many of the changes were made for the safety of the children.”

Frazier also encouraged parents to put as much energy into helping improve their child’s reading and math scores as they have into this issue, noting that Fluvanna Middle School is currently “accredited with warning” by the Virginia Department of Education.

However, parents continued to describe kids who did not want to go back to school the next day because they felt afraid of Farquharson.  Others were disappointed by what they saw as a lack of apology.

“I have not heard an apology,” said parent Carolyn Newman.  “My son did not hear an apology in the assembly [held at the middle school on Aug. 13].  She said, ‘I was only mean the first day and I was only yelling at you for things you weren’t supposed to be doing.’  Parents got an e-mail that said, ‘my approach was negatively received.’ I didn’t hear any acknowledgement of any wrongdoing.  Hundreds of children don’t all have bad perception.”

While the majority of parents were upset, a few felt like the situation was improving.

Brandon Henning, the father of sixth grade triplets, personally met with Farquharson after his kids came home with “upsetting” stories.

“Since [we met with the principal], our children have come home every day pleased with the environment they’ve seen in the school,” said Henning.  “It seems to be going in the right direction.”

Farquharson was present at the meeting, but unable to receive questions.  A meet and greet has been scheduled for parents to meet the administrative staff of FMS on Thursday, Aug. 15 at 5:30 at the Fluvanna Middle School Media Center.

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