School Safety on the Ballot this November

This post expresses the views and opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily that of Mount Vernon on the MoVe management or staff.

I am the mother of two daughters who attend Fairfax County public schools within the Mount Vernon district and I have become increasingly concerned for their safety. I have seen a rise in violence and sexual assault in recent years, from both students and staff and I believe this to be, in large part, a result of policies set forth by the current school board.

I have not seen any consistency with consequences given to what I consider to be serious offenses such as fighting or sexual misconduct, a trend that seems to be growing exponentially within FCPS, especially at the elementary level. Students and staff are being conditioned to become repeat offenders because of the lack of timely and befitting consequences for their actions.

Eight out of the 12 school board members are not seeking re-election this November, allowing for a unique opportunity to elect others who will reverse this trend and prioritize the safety of our children. Here in the Mount Vernon district, Karen Corbett Sanders has endorsed Mateo Dunne as her replacement. When I realized who this was, I immediately thought of a troubling exchange I had with him on the nextdoor platform last school year regarding a sexual assault case at a local high school.

[As an aside, when I learned of Karen’s endorsement, I did not know Mateo was the same person I had an exchange with. At that time, his name was Matthew Stanton Dunne III, and he went by Matt Dunne on social media. He has since changed his name to Mateo Oramas Dunne.]

During the 2021-2022 school year, numerous complaints of sexual assault began to pile up against a JROTC instructor at West Potomac. So much so, that students took it upon themselves to create a petition to have this instructor removed. https://www.change.org/p/west-potomac-high-school

An internal investigation was finally launched, and this instructor was completely exonerated and resumed his duties as Command Sargent Major.

My daughter wanted to join this program and I arranged to meet with Karen Corbett Sanders to learn more. She told me that students had "misinterpreted" his uniform check protocol as inappropriate touching and she assured me that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. She explained that he had been completely cleared of any wrongdoing but as a precaution, they changed policy so that there would be no physical contact during uniform checks. None of this information had been communicated to parents.

Early into the 2022-2023 school year, more accusations emerged against this same instructor and this time- the mother of the victim demanded an external investigation.

It was at this time that I happened upon a nextdoor conversation about this instructor. Dunne swooped in to defend him and posted the following: "If you have any evidence of wrongdoing you should present it to FCPS and FCPD. I am familiar with the case, and there does not appear to be any substance to the allegations. Indeed, there is evidence of misintentions as much as misunderstandings. I regret that you have chosen to disparage a proud veteran…”

It wasn't long after this nextdoor exchange that the case had closed and the JROTC instructor was put on "administrative leave with no set return date" based on the findings of the external investigation.

I can only speculate as to why Dunne was familiar with this investigation while it was ongoing - but regardless, I consider it to be a huge red flag that he defended behavior that resulted in this instructor's removal and dismissed the allegations of this high school student as unsubstantiated.

Upon learning about these new developments, I reached out to Karen Corbett Sanders for insights, but unfortunately, she was much less responsive and claimed to be no longer "privy" to any information concerning this instructor. I now question the legitimacy of any internal FCPS investigation.

Interestingly, it wasn't until I drew Karen's attention to Dunne's nextdoor comments, that his posts mysteriously disappeared. There was no acknowledgment of any misstep, no apology, just an apparent effort to wipe his comments from the record. I believe this speaks volumes about this character and demonstrates how his biases would impact FCPS students, if elected.

Fairfax County parents, I urge you to consider this troubling case along with the upward trend of violence and sexual assault in our schools- and to think about the safety of your children when you head to the polls this November.

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