Dr. Karen Garza sworn in as new Superintendent of Fairfax County - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Dr. Karen Garza sworn in as new Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools

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Dr. Karen Garza Dr. Karen Garza

Dr. Karen Garza was sworn in as Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools Thursday night.

She comes from a northwest Texas school district of roughly 30,000 students. She will now have six times as many under her authority.

"Dr. Garza will be the first woman in the history of Fairfax County Public School system to lead this flagship school district," School Board Chairman Ilryong Moon told a small gathering at school headquarters in Falls Church at the start of the ceremony. "And we are really looking forward to her leadership."

Dr. Garza, married to Louis and mother of four grown children, will officially start her new job on Monday.

"I just can't tell you how honored and thrilled and really humbled I am to have this opportunity," Garza told the audience. "I'm very grateful."

She will lead a public school system that is 11th largest in the nation -- with roughly 181,000 students.

"I don't expect all schools to be the same," Garza tells FOX 5 News. "I expect the same kinds of opportunities for every child. But I think it's special to have schools that are a little different."

We asked Dr. Garza her views on two key issues facing Fairfax schools: first, its student disciplinary policy -- under fire since the suicide of 15-year-old W.T. Woodson High School sophomore Nick Stuban in 2011.

"I think there's been some healthy discussion on that in this community over the last couple of years," Garza told us. "I think there have been some meaningful changes to the Students Rights and Responsibilities manual and it's just finding that balance. We're an organization that serves children and supports children. At the same time, we have principals that have big jobs and have to provide a safe and conducive learning environment."

And what about the idea of starting classes later for high schoolers?

"Everywhere I've ever been, it was actually the opposite. Where elementary school students started earlier than secondary school students. So I will tell you that does work. But I will also tell you it's quite difficult to switch and change particularly in a large system like this."

Dr. Garza says she welcomes the debate and hopes both are resolved sooner than later.

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