Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Josh and Nick's Suicides ARE Linked to FCPS ZT Policy: Updated 6/10/2011

This post has been created in honor of Josh Anderson (3/18/2009) and Nick Stuban (1/20/2011)

Both of these boys should be alive: Josh as a freshman in college and Nick as a high school sophomore. While their offenses were different, the feelings were the same: helplessness, hopelessness and despair due to the punishment given by Fairfax County Public Schools and as a result, both are gone. In their prime of life. And the saddest thing of all is that if treated differently, they would still be here.

Additional thought: Actually, what is so horrific about all of this is that if the policy was reviewed and reformed after Josh's death, then Nick would still be alive. To me, this falls squarely at the feet of the Fairfax County School Board and Superintendent.

There has been much in the media after Nick's death resulting in increased public pressure for the School Board and Superintendent Jack Dale to revise the draconian disciplinary policies. Two members of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors are calling for it. And any parent who has read the moving article by Donna St. George in Sunday's Washington Post (2/20/11) about the Stuban's experience and Nick's suicide should be afraid, angry and get involved in the call for reform. Why? Because the disciplinary policies could ensnare you and your child.

Teens are teens. Despite everything you do to keep your kids on the "straight and narrow" know what I mean: the "talks", the warnings, the curfews, the vetting of friends, careful monitoring of sleepovers, dishing out of consequences when rules are broken, all of the things that conscientious parents do, please listen when I say this - when they are in high school, all bets are off.

Josh was not a bad kid. And while I don't believe his words about drug use in high school were entirely true, "Mom, everyone is doing it", it is more prevalent than what I want to think and believe. He was a repeat offender, despite everything we were trying to do, and I realize he will not garner the same sympathy as Nick, but he was not a bad kid. We don't condone what he did but he should not have been made to feel like a criminal. He was guilty of being dumb, stupid and making really bad choices, but he was not a bad kid. He was not a threat to other students in FCPS and as such, he should not have faced expulsion to an alternative school or from the county. He should've have been punished, absolutely. And severely so. But not by removing him from his school, friends, athletic opportunities and support system. We believe this was too harsh. (Read this post for our experience)

Tim is keeping me abreast of the comments on the recent articles. I understand that just as Josh will be judged "guilty as charged", having been caught twice, the same will be for us as his parents. What were we teaching him? How permissive were we? Why couldn't we control our own son so that he would stay away from drugs? At the risk of sounding defensive, and I will only do this once, our other three kids will serve as as our parental "resume".
  • Tyler (26) graduated from TJ, short for the the nationally renowned Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. According to the US News and World Report, it is the #1 high school in the country, securing the top spot each of the three years they have ranked schools. He graduated from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, is married and working as an account executive at a telemarketing firm.
  • Lauren (23) went to Langley HS and after graduating from the top ranked McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia, is now working as a financial analyst at a mid market investment banking firm.
  • Gillian (20) is also a TJ graduate and is currently a 3rd year student at the University of Virginia, majoring in psychology and minoring in film study.
Everyone in our area knows how difficult it is to get into TJ. And all who live in Virginia know how steep the competition is to receive the coveted UVA acceptance letter as it is the #2 top public university in the country. Parents also know the challenge that college graduates face in securing good jobs in this tough economy. While all the credit goes to our kids for their accomplishments, I believe they would say that parental love and support was paramount to their success.

Why am I sharing more about our family? Only to say this: If it can happen to us and now to the Stuban's, it can happen to anyone. Our hearts go out to Nick's parents. Unfortunately we know the nightmare they are living. Tim and I implore parents to wake up and demand change for the sake of your children....before other lives are irrevocably damaged or heaven forbid, lost.

Below are media links in chronological order. The intent is to have everything on one post for easy reference.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Suicide death of our 17 year old beloved son
Joshua Lee Anderson

Wednesday (3/25/09)
Reston Connection: "Saxons, Seahawks Mourn Teammate"

Sunday (4/5/09)
Washington Post: "Unbending Rules on Drugs in Schools Drive One Teen to the Breaking Point" by Marc Fisher

Monday (4/6/09)
Washington Post - Raw Fisher: "Zero Tolerance: Cure Can Be Harsher Than Crime" by Marc Fisher

The New York Times Parenting Blog: "A Zero-Tolerance Policy, and a Suicide" by Lisa Belkin

Tuesday (4/14/09)
Washington Post - Raw Fisher: "Zero Tolerance: Parents Talk Tough, But Are They Really?" by Marc Fisher

Wednesday (4/29/09)
Reston Connection: "Seahawks Ready for Postseason Breakthrough" by Rich Sanders

Tuesday (10/13/09)
Washington Post - The Answer Sheet blog post: "Checking It Out: Zero Tolerance or Zero Sense?" by Valerie Strauss

Friday (9/17/10)
Gazette: "One Strike, They're Out" by Julia O'Donoghue

Thursday, January 20, 2011
Suicide death of 15 year old beloved son
Nicholas L. Stuban

Saturday (1/22/11)
Washington Post: "Student Death Stirs Up Fairfax: Disciplinary policies scrutinized after student death in Fairfax. Suicide suspected after suspension and transfer" by Donna St. George

Monday (1/24/11)
Fairfax City Patch: "Student's Death Opens Old Wounds" by Whitney Rhodes

Thursday (1/27/11)
Burke Connections: "Mantua Teenager Remembered: Nick Stuban, 15, participated in Woodson football, Boy Scouts" by Julia O'Donoghue

Tuesday (2/8/11)
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) Resolution: "Fairfax County Public Schools Zero Tolerance Policy" by Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) and Supervisor Penny Gross (Mason District)

Friday (2/11/11)
FCPS Superintendent Jack D. Dale: "Statement to Members of the Fairfax County BOS"

Washington Post: "School Superintendent Jack D. Dale Defended Fairfax County's Discipline Policies "by Donna St. George

Reston Patch: "Supervisor Hudgins Explains 'Zero Tolerance' Remarks"

Reston Patch: "Schools Superintendent Blasts Hunter Mill Supervisor" by Karen Goff

Tuesday (2/15/11)
Oakton Patch: "County, School Officials Spar Over Disciplinary Process' Link to Student Suicides" by Whitney Rhodes

Reston Patch Opinion: "Gibson: 'Our Students Deserve Better": Hunter Mill School Board rep says county BOS should stay out of zero tolerance debate.

Sunday (2/20/11)
Washington Post: "Student's Suspension Furthered His Despair: Suicide turns attention to Fairfax County's discipline procedures" by Donna St. George

Washington Post - The Answer Sheet blog post: "Why School Zero Tolerance Policies Make No Sense"by Valerie Strauss

Monday (2/21/11):
6 page letter from the Rutherford Institute to Superintendent Jack Dale titled "Nick Stuban and Fairfax County Public Schools Disciplinary Process"

The Rutherford Institute News: "Rutherford Institute Denounces Zero Tolerance, Calls On Fairfax School District to Reform Disciplinary Process in Wake of Student Suicide"

Washington Post: "Family of Fairfax Teen Suicide Victim Wants Changes in School Disciplinary Policies" by Donna St. George

Washington Post: "A Temperance Movement Springs Up to Combat Fairfax County Schools' Zero Tolerance Policy" by Petula Dvorak

Channel 9 News: "Father of Suicide Victim Demands Changes in School Policy"

Connection: "School Discipline: Broken or Perfect? Jack Dale criticizes concerns linking teen suicides to suspensions" by Julia O'Donoghue

Tuesday (2/22/11):
Washington Post - The Answer Sheet: "Jack Dale's response to Stuban Family Letter"

Springfield Connection: "Time to Talk about 'Discipline': Schools need to consider the best interests of the studentby Mary Kimm

Wednesday (2/23/11):
Oakton Patch: "Dale Points to State Zero Tolerance Policies to Explain FCPS Actions" by Whitney Rhodes

Fairfax City Patch: "Reed Responds to Zero Tolerance Debate" (Patricia Reed is the school board member for the Providence District, which includes Woodson HS)

Washington Post: "VA Teen's Suicide Prompts MD Review of Disciplinary Policies" by Donna St. George

Washington Post Opinon: "The Rationale for Strict High School Discipline" by David Campbell, teacher at Centreville HS

Washington Post Opinion: "No Second Chances at Fairfax Schools" by Robert Guerra

Washington Post Editorial: "Fairfax County Should Reconsider Its Zero Tolerance School Discipline"

Saxon Scope: "Is 'Zero Tolerance' Not Enough?" by Terra Holderman

Thursday (2/24/11)
Channel 9 news: "Fairfax School Officials Defend Discipline Policy"

Dignity in Schools: "Zero Tolerance, Zero Consideration" by Joao Da Silva

abc2news: "Virginia teen's death prompts Maryland to review zero tolerance polices"

Scrippsnews: "School's Rigid Adherence to Rules Proves Fatalby Dan Thomasson

Friday (2/25/11)

Washington Post: "Fairfax County School Board To Review Discipline Policiesby Donna St. George

Monday (2/28/11)

Washington Post - Two letters to the Editor: "Removing Students: Fair or Foul?" by Crystal Shin, Charlottesville and Michael Wilcove, Rockville

Washington Examiner: "Fairfax Suicide Prompts VA Task Force on School Discipline" by Lisa Gartner

Wednesday (3/2/11)
Washington Examiner Local Editorial: "Zero Tolerance' Policies Do Lasting Damage"

Friday (3/4/11)
Washington Post Opinons: "What 'Zero Tolerance" Meant For My Son" by Sonia Mey-Schmidt

Wednesday (3/9/11)
Washington Examiner Local Editorial: "Zero Tolerance" Policies do Lasting Damage"

Thursday (3/10/11) -
Washington Post: "Teenage Suspended from Fairfax County over Acne Drug" by Donna St. George

McLean Patch Mom's Chat: "Disciplinary Process Needs Reform: Don't Crush Our Kid's Dreams"

Friday (3/11/11)
Washington Post's The Answer Sheet: "5 Myths About Zero-Tolerance Disciplinary Policies" by Valerie Strauss

Vienna Patch: "Stubans to Parents: Commit to FCPS Reform"

Vienna Patch: "FCPS Discipline Reform Group Plans for Monday's School Board Session" by Whitney Rhodes

Saturday (3/12/11)
Washington Post: "A Temperance Movement Springs Up to Combat Fairfax County Schools' Zero Tolerance Policy" by Petula Dvorak

Sunday (3/13/11)
Time Magazine: "Zero Tolerance, Zero Sense" by Nancy Gibbs

Monday (3/14/11)
Washington Post Local Breaking News Blog: "Fairfax Holds Hearings on School Discipline Policies" by Donna St. George

Reston Patch: "School Board Considers More 'Holistic' Approach to Discipline" by Whitney Rhodes

Red Apple Mom Blog post: "The "Fear Factor" in FCPS School Discipline"

Channel 9 News: "Fairfax School Policy Reviewed After Expulsions" by Peggy Fox

FCPS School Board Agenda and Topics for all day work session: "Review of Student Disciplinary Process"

Tuesday (3/15/11)
Washington Post Education: "In the Aftermath of Student's Suicide, Fairfax Board Examines Discipline Policiesby Donna St. George

Channel 9 News: "Virginia Education Leader Wants Reviews for all Disciplined Student" by Peggy Fox

Wednesday (3/16/11)
Fairfax Times: "School Board Considers Changing its Discipline Policy" by Holly Hobbs

Washington Post: "Fairfax County School Board to Review Discipline Policies" by Donna St. George

Saturday (3/19/11)
Washington Post's Higher Education: "Fairfax Schools' Discipline Policies Up for Review: Parents Seek More Leniency" by Donna St. George

Sunday (3/20/11)
Reston Patch: "Parents Push for Changes to Disciplinary Process" by Sherell Williams

Tuesday (3/22/11)
Washington Post: "Fairfax Schools Chief Says System is Seeking Ways to Improve Discipline Process" by Donna St. George

Fox News: "Community Meeting Held to Discuss Fairfax County Schools Disciplinary Process" by Wisdom Martin

Wednesday (3/23/11)
WAMU 88.3 DC: "Kojo in Your Community: Discipline in the Fairfax County Schools"

Fairfax City Patch: "Stubans Call Out Involuntary Transfers, Want Discipline Changes Now" by Whitney Rhodes and Bobbi Bowman

Radio Without All the Noise: "Kojo Explores FCPS Disciplinary Policies with McLean Community" by Jonathan Wilson

Thursday (3/24/11)
Falls Church News "Commentary on March 20th Town Hall Meeting" by Penny Gross, Mason District Supervisor of Fairfax Board of Supervisors

Monday (3/28/11)
Washington Post: "Fairfax Schools Consider Recording Student Disciplinary Hearings" by Donna St. George

Wednesday (3/30/11)
Reston Patch: "Dale Recommends Relief for Students Caught with Meds, But What About Others?" by Whitney Rhodes

WTOP: "'Zero Tolerance' May be Amended in Fairfax Schools" by Hank Silverberg

Fairfax Times: "School Board to Address Expulsion, Transfers" by Holly Hobbs

Channel 9 News: "Fairfax Schools Superintendent Proposes Changes To Discipline Process" by Peggy Fox

NBC News: "Superintendent Suggests Plan to Improve Discipline in Schools"

Fox News: "Virginia Task Force Meets with Student's Father to Discuss School Disciplinary Program"

Thursday (3/31/11)
Washington Post: "Dale Proposes Changes to Fairfax Discipline Process" by Donna St. George

Fairfax Times Opinion: "A Primer on Fairfax County Public School's Disciplinary Processby David Hirsch, attorney with Fairfax-based law firm

Fairfax Times: "School Discipline Process Can Be Improvedby Kathy Smith, Chairman of the Fairfax County School Board

March 2011
Child Trends Brief: "Multiple Responses, Promising Results: Evidence-Based, Nonpunitive Alternatives to Zero Toleranceby Christopher Boccanfuso, Ph.D and Megan Kuhfeld B.S.

Sunday (4/3/11)
Washington Post Local Opinion: "How Fairfax Can Get School Discipline Right" by Caroline Hemenway and Janet Otersen, co-founders of

Monday (4/4/11)
Washington Examiner: "Fairfax School Board Weighs Changes to Discipline Policy" by Lisa Gartner

Washington Post:  "Revamp of Fairfax School Discipline Rules Continues" by Donna St. George

Fox News: "No Changes to Fairfax County Public Schools Discipline Policy" by Sherri Ly

Wednesday (4/6/11)
FairfaxCityPatch: "Gibson: There Needs To Be Consequences for Drug Offenders in Schools" by Karen Goff

Wednesday (4/20/11)
Washington Post: "Penalties for Drug Offenses Weigh Heavily on Students" by Donna St. George

Tuesday (5/10/11)
Vienna Patch: "Madison, Thoreau Principals Open Dialogue on School Discipline" by Elizabeth Vandenburg

Channel 9 News: "Are School's Zero Tolerance Policies Going Too Far?" 

Saturday (5/14/11)
Washington Post: "Fairfax Discipline Proposals Issued" by Donna St. George

Tuesday (5/17/11)
Vienna Patch: "School Board Mulls Parental Notification, Access to Hearing Recording in Discipline Work Session" by Sherell Williams

Washington Post: "Fairfax County School Board Weighs Changes to Discipline Policies" by Donna St. George "School Board: Discipline Proposal Not Enough" by Holly Hobbs

Tuesday (6/7/11)
Vienna Patch: "FZTR Hopes School Board's SR&R Vote Isn't Final Callby Whitney Rhodes

Thursday (6/9/11)
Washington Post: "Fairfax May Reexamine Forced School Transfers in Discipline Cases" by Donna St. George

Channel 9 News (5:00 pm):  "Parents of Son Who Committed Suicide Rally for Changes" by Peggy Fox

Channel 9 News (11:00 pm): "Disciplinary Policy Changes Coming To Fairfax County Public Schools"

Channel 4 News (11:00 pm): "Fairfax Schools Zero Tolerance Policies Nixed" by Darcy Spencer

Friday (6/10/11)
Washington Post: "Fairfax Scales Back Discipline Policy" by Donna St. George

Vienna Patch: "School Board Votes to Make Discipline Process More Flexible, Supportive" by Naomi Nix

ABC 7 News: "Fairfax Parents, Students Glad Over the Change in Discipline Policies" by Gail Pennybaker

Saturday (6/11/11)
Vienna Patch: "School Board: Discipline Changes Won't End 'Involuntary Transfer' Option" by Naomi Nix


Mary Ellen said...

The Andersons and the Stubans have my deepest sympathy. FCPS - whether your gripe with them is a boundary change, IEP, Fair Grading, Fair Sleeping, or Fair Dsicipline - it does not matter. The stonewall response is the same. "Staff" makes the decisions years before they are presented to the public. parents, Taxpayers, students and teachers have little input. And as for Jack Dale, he must be using a Ouija Board to determine dead students motivations?! How arrogant to presume he is GOD and knows inner thoughts.

Allison said...

Today at my High school in Michigan a junior boy jumped off the balcony of his apartment. He got caught with drugs on Friday and was getting in trouble. The problem is nationwide

Chris said...

I thank you, your husband Tim and your whole family so much for all that you have done and are doing. Together, we can continue to make a difference for children. I grieve together with you and, also, celebrate Josh's wonderful life, his spirit and his love. I wish you all of God's blessings.

Kindly yours,

Chris Antoniou (Nick's uncle)

Mindy said...

I have followed your blog for a long time and have never commented. My heart goes out to you. You have helped me out the past few years with my own kids...trouble with FCPS (McLean) and wondering if one would choose a destructive path. It is so easy for a child so alienated against from a school that is suppose to be their "world" to feel such despair. Your Josh is my hero - plain and should be so proud. Your a good mom!