DeGroft undecided

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, May 22, 2013


ISLE OF WIGHT—An Isle of Wight School Board member said Monday he’s not made up his mind about resigning.

Herb DeGroft of the Hardy District learned mid-afternoon through The Tidewater News that fellow school board members are calling on him to step down. This follows the revelation of DeGroft’s connection to controversial and offending emails with crude humor, which were made public last week.

“The Isle of Wight County School Board does not condone the actions of Hardy District representative Herbert DeGroft,” wrote school spokeswoman Kenita Bowers in a press release.

“As a result, he is being called upon to resign from his position on the school board immediately.”

Also in that notice, School Board Chairman Robert Eley wrote, “Mr. DeGroft’s actions are not supported by the remaining school board members and we have given him the opportunity to resign on his own. Our goal is to move forward in a more unified approach as we continue preparing the students of Isle of Wight County for educational excellence.”

DeGroft said he recognized his fellow board members wanting to put distance between himself and themselves. He also said he forgot to use the delete button on those emails and exercised poor judgment.

“It was a human failing and I think it’s regrettable,” DeGroft said, “But I’m not a racist, I never have been.”

On Saturday he wrote his public regret, which can be read here. He begins, “To each and every one of you, individually and collectively, I apologize. Please forgive me for failing you in what you expect of me.”

Further on, “There was no intention or motivation on my part to be inappropriate or to be discriminatory against anyone in forwarding some emails, of hundreds I receive. I do need to be, and will be, more thoughtful henceforth.”

In addition to having spoken with the county’s NAACP president, Dottie Harris, DeGroft’s also plans to meet with his constituents about the issue.

Harris told the newspaper she did receive a copy of his apology. But on behalf of the NAACP, she still plans to ask DeGroft to resign. At the time, Harris said she wasn’t aware of the school board’s demand.

Whereas she questions Bailey’s remorse, Harris does feel DeGroft has been sincere in his offering.

“It’s been said you lead by example, and he’s a member of the school board. Students are not allowed to download derogatory materials on their iPads,” she said. “You as a county leader are representing students. But you’re doing what you tell them not to do.

“I don’t think he would be respected hereafter. I don’t think he’ll be effective if he stays.”

Harris said she had no candidates in mind at this time to replace Bailey or DeGroft should they resign or be recalled.