School concerns

“I listened to her tell me how awful her day was,” said Harlow.  “She was scared of her new principal. From the moment she got off of the bus, she was screamed at and treated like she was enlisting in the army. There was no warm greeting like she got from Mr.Stribling last year in 4th grade. I can’t imagine how that must have made her feel.”

Harlow posted about her daughter’s experience on Facebook today (Aug. 13), thinking maybe her daughter was overreacting.  Within 2 hours she received 155 comments, including one from a Fluvanna Middle School teacher who said, “the children were talked to like dogs.”

Gena Keller said in an email to the Fluvanna Review that: “Related to the postings on the Fluvanna Review facebook site, I would like to say: “When there are concerns about any aspect of our school system, we work hard to address them and expedite a response and/or solution to the situation.  We want nothing less than wonderful schools that enable our staff and students to thrive.  As always, I encourage our parents to contact their child’s school, or our office, when there are situations that need our attention.  We are approachable and can certainly assist our parents in being part of the solution.”

Fluvanna Middle School’s new principle, Dr. Yardley Farquharson, comes to Fluvanna County Schools from Petersburg City public schools.  She has 18 years of experience in education, beginning her career as a substitute teacher in Buffalo, New York.  She also has 10 years of administrative experience, both as an assistant principal and building principal.

When she was hired in July, Superintendent of Fluvanna Public Schools Gena Keller said she was, “thrilled to have Dr. Farquharson join our administrative team.  She brings wonderful energy to our school division.”

Yet, over the course of the second day of school (Aug. 13), more stories poured out from parents concerned for their children on the Fluvanna Review Facebook site.  They described yelling and screaming, depriving fifth graders of state-mandated recess, treating visits to the bathroom and the nurse as privileges and not allowing students to use the microwave in the cafeteria.

“Every child returned from school telling of how they were berated, humiliated and scared by this new principal,” said Fluvanna resident Paula Rose.  “While discipline is a necessary tool for making certain children behave themselves and to keep order in the school, yelling at them and berating them the moment the get off their bus is not discipline. It is cruel and unjustified.”

This may not be the first time Dr. Farquharson has had issues with parents.  In June of 2012, Richmond’s ABC affiliate, WRIC, reported that the Petersburg City School Peabody Middle School Parent Teacher Association (PTA) found it difficult to work with Dr. Farquharson.  There were also allegations of student mistreatment.

As to why Farquharson is no longer employed with Petersburg City Schools, Petersburg Assistant Superintendent Stephanie Bassett said, “It’s a personnel matter, I’m not allowed to address it.”

Fluvanna Superintendent Gena Keller, has responded to concerned parent e-mails, letting them know she is aware of the situation.

“Dr. Farquharson and I met earlier this morning,” said Keller in response to an e-mail from parent Stephanie Kester.  “Like you, we want our middle school to be a place where our students and staff can thrive.  [Farquharson] is focused on turning this around by working with her staff, students and parents.”


A meet and greet has been scheduled for Thursday, August 15 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Fluvanna Middle School media center, for parents to meet with Dr. Farquharson.

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