School put football field over cemetery

A Virginia school district has come under fire for putting a new high school football field on the site of a 19th-century burial ground.

The Prince William County school district says that although the contractor discovered the land had graves on it in 2008, it didn’t notify the district until July. And by the time research yielded possible identities of the remains, it was too late to change plans, officials said.

That’s not good enough for Carolyn Lynn, who believes the remains are those of her ancestors.

“The football field!” Lynn, a Manassas genealogist, told The Washington Post. “It’s not even the high school. . . . And that kind of adds insult to injury.”

School officials say they are willing to work with Lynn, if indeed the remains are of her ancestors, to find an appropriate resting place for the bones. But leaving the land alone wasn’t an option.

“Had a redesign even been possible, it would have cost significant money and time that the school division does not have,” Philip B. Kavits, a spokesman for the Prince William County public school system, wrote in an e-mail.

“We were not aware at the time (and have still not confirmed) the connection of the family to these graves,” he wrote.

Lynn says she wants the bones to remain on the land, not sent to another cemetery. But she says the school board won’t talk to her until it gets the archaeologists’ report.

A public meeting is scheduled for Dec. 16.

Archaeologist Boyd Sipe says the configuration of the graves and burial stones has been mapped well enough that it might be possible to recreate it elsewhere.