In support of Mrs. Edna King

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, July 9, 2014

by Johnetta Nichols

As a recent member of the Franklin City School Board, I am compelled to write this letter in support of Mrs. Edna King. First, let’s rewind, STOP! — Mrs. King’s initial appointment to the school board — Mrs. King’s name appeared in this newspaper in numerous articles and even in the publisher’s “Our View’ complementing and applauding her appointment. In paraphrasing, it was implied:

[“Mrs King is a great choice because she knows education; her experience as an educational administrator is an asset; Mrs. King is most qualified, she has served on the board of Paul D. Community College and other boards; Mrs. King is not one to vote along racial lines; Franklin Schools will be better because of her appointment.”]

Now, let’s fast-forward, STOP! — Mrs. King, as Franklin School Board Chairman — Once placed on a pedestal, is now ready to be thrown to the wolves. “Sunshine Fans” and we all know how that goes.

It is evident that Franklin schools have not seen the best of times in the last year or so, but never has Mrs. King given up or decreased her efforts to make things better. If anything, she has worked even harder and become even more committed to turning around the state of our schools.

This is not the first board, nor will it be the last board, to face obstacles, to make unpopular decisions or even to make some mistakes. We are very much aware of unpopular actions by our present board (being that we are constantly reminded), so let’s reflect upon some questionable actions of past boards. Now, rewind, STOP! — the schools board’s decision (myself included) to hire Mr. [Bill] Pruitt (with only middle school principal experience) as superintendent of Franklin schools — the board even going before the Virginia Department of Education to petition that his name be placed on their Virginia’s Qualified List of Superintendents, knowing that he did not meet the criteria. There was no public outcry for the resignation of that “sitting board chairman.” So why now, so why Mrs. King? Let’s rewind again, STOP! — the school board’s decision (myself included) to fire superintendent Dr. [Alline] Farmer only after a little over two months of renewing her contract. A decision which cost the citizens, as taxpayers, thousands of dollars as she stayed on the payroll for at least five years after her firing. There was no public outcry for the resignation of that “sitting board chairman.” So why now, so why Mrs. King? If you are thinking, why rehash the past, remember that history teaches us that the past shapes or reshapes the future. “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Mrs. King has served as Franklin City Schools Board chairman for the past two years, exhibiting professionalism, offering her experiences in academia, displaying an abundance of knowledge of school law and state and local school policies, along with state’s Standards of Quality. She also serves with dignity and a commitment to make Franklin schools the best that they can be. Given the opportunity, Mrs. King will play an intricate role in turning our schools around. Mrs. King, although, you may never see it written again on the pages of this newspaper, do know that you have the support and appreciation from many, many citizens in the City of Franklin. Thank you Mrs. King for your hard work and dedication to make Franklin City Schools the best that they can be.

JOHNETTA NICHOLS is a former Franklin City School Board Member and vice-chair representing Ward 3. She may be contacted at