DeGroft not running for reelection

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, June 12, 2013

SMITHFIELD—Herb DeGroft said Tuesday he will not seek reelection to the Hardy District seat of the Isle of Wight County School Board. However, DeGroft added he does plan to finish out his term, which ends this year.

Since mid-May, DeGroft and Supervisor Byron “Buzz” Bailey of the Newport District have been pressured to resign. This came after they were revealed to have privately circulated some controversial emails among other board members and county staff.

IW NAACP President Dottie Harris brought the pages to the public attention during a Board of Supervisors meeting on May 16. She has demanded the men resign, and if they don’t, she will seek a recall election.

DeGroft told The Tidewater News he has learned that the county NAACP chapter has indeed started a recall petition, but could not name his sources.

Harris could not be contacted for either comment or confirmation.

DeGroft and Bailey have repeatedly apologized for their actions, but said they’ll not step down. They each have said the tone of the emails was political, not racial. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are the subjects of several of those pages.

IW Registrar Lisa Betterton confirmed not only has DeGroft taken his name off the ballot, but also that Tina Hill and Alvin Wilson have submitted their names to run for that office.

“Either one would do an excellent job,” DeGroft said about the candidates, adding that he knows both of them. “The county will be well represented by either.”

He’s given them copies of school board manual pages pertaining to being a board member so that they can be better prepared and “hit the ground running.”

When contacted by The Tidewater News, School Board Chairman Robert Eley said he was unaware of DeGroft’s announcement.

“I hadn’t discussed it with him, but it’s the best thing for him to do,” Eley said. “I do wish he would go ahead and resign. I don’t have any say in the matter, that’s up to his constituents.

At a May 30 meeting, the board formally voted 4-1 asking for DeGroft to resign.

“I think it would be beneficial to school system and the county,” said Eley.

Fellow school board members Denise Tynes, Julia Perkins and Kent Hildebrand could not be reached for comment.