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Judge Upholds Fairfax Board's Decision To Close Elementary School

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A judge in Fairfax, Va., has ruled that the county school board acted within its rights to close the elementary school in the town of Clifton. Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Smith ruled against the Clifton parents, who claimed the board's decision was "arbitrary and capricious."

The judge said though there may have been substantial evidence supporting a decision to keep Clifton Elementary open, it was clear to him that the board did what it felt was best for the school district as a whole, if not for the town of Clifton.

He says it's not a judge's job to second-guess the board's thought process.

The judge's ruling reduced some Clifton parents in the courtroom to tears, but some also say they think the ruling was a partial victory because they feel the judge acknowledged parents' rights to challenge school closure decisions.

School Board Vice President Brad Center says he's pleased with the judge's ruling. He says anyone at the July 8 meeting saw this was not a decision school board members made quickly or lightly.

"Now, is it possible that someone who disagreed with our decision might have an argument to saying a different decision should have been reached? That's thoroughly possible, but it doesn't mean the board acted in an 'arbitrary and capricious' manner," Center says.

The Clifton parents say they are still considering whether to appeal the decision. Clifton Elementary will remain open at least until the end of the school year. The board is in the process of deciding where Clifton students will be moved.

This post has been updated.

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