Karen Corbett Sanders to retire from Fairfax County School Board


Fairfax County School Board Member Karen Corbett Sanders (Credit: Fairfax County School Board)

Karen Corbett Sanders, the Mount Vernon District representative to the Fairfax County School Board, announced Feb. 15 that she will not be running for a third term later this year.

In a letter to families from her district, Corbett Sanders said it had been “the honor of a lifetime” representing students, families and staff from Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) on the school board. Corbett Sanders served as board chair from 2018 to 2020 and as vice chair the year prior.

“When I ran for office in 2015, I ran on a platform of Equity in Excellence,” she wrote. “A student’s zip code should not determine the educational opportunities available to them in Fairfax County.” Corbett Sanders pledged to continue working until the end of her term in December 2023 “to ensure that the FCPS Promise of an excellent education is realized at every school and for every child in Mount Vernon.”

A lifelong resident of the Mount Vernon area who graduated from Groveton (now West Potomac) High School and who previously served in an executive role at Verizon, Corbett Sanders told On the Move that her decision not to pursue a third term was difficult and one that she didn’t take lightly.

“As a lifelong member of this community who has been engaged in our schools as a student, alum, parent, coach and board member, I am committed to continuing to be involved and advocating for all of our kids on the corridor and the importance of public schools,” she said.

Karen Corbett Sanders (center) presented at the Feb. 11 Mount Vernon Town Meeting with Supervisor Dan Storck (l.) and FCPS Superintendent Michelle Reid (r.)

During her tenure — Corbett Sanders succeeded Dan Storck as the school board’s Mount Vernon District Representative in 2016 upon his election to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors — she worked with her colleagues to strengthen the school system’s investments in early childhood education, advanced academics, pathways to college, workforce and career and technical education, and mental health. She is particularly proud of certain data points — like the fact that South County High School has the third highest on-time graduation rate in the county and that $20 million in scholarships was given out last year to students graduating from Mount Vernon District schools.

Corbett Sanders said she expects to continue serving her community as a volunteer and advocate.

“There are so many ways that we can each serve our community,” she said. “I am a big believer in the work that GrandInvolve does volunteering in our schools and being mentors for our students.”

While it remains to be seen who Corbett Sanders’ successor will be on the school board, she has some simple advice for them.

“Be a person for others, be present, love our children, make student-centered decisions and partner with parents, and recognize that the FCPS Promise is one that must be available to every child in this county,” she said. “On the policy level, it is essential that one takes a Team Mount Vernon approach and works with their colleagues at the board of supervisors, the state legislature and the federal government.”

Corbett Sanders has done just that, working closely with Storck, Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell, State Delegate Paul Krizek and many other elected officials. Krizek, who attended Groveton High School with Corbett Sanders decades ago, described her as a “wonderful public servant who cares deeply about all of our children, here in Mount Vernon and throughout the county.”

“There is no public service closer to the people than serving on the school board, and she is an excellent citizen leader with a deep commitment to the students we serve,” he said.

Corbett Sanders is not the only Fairfax County School Board member who has opted not to run again in November. Thus far, Megan McLaughlin, Tamara Derenak Kaufax and Elaine Tholen have announced plans to retire, while Laura Jane Cohen and Stella Pekarsky plan to run for other offices.

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