Reader questions paper’s motivation in article

Published 10:12 am Wednesday, May 24, 2017

To the Editor:

Upon reviewing the recent article published in The Tidewater News about school board Vice Chairman Dr. Andrea Hall-Leonard, I am very concerned and can’t help but speculate as to why the article would be published as city council prepares to appoint school board members, which were recently nominated, which includes Dr. Leonard. It appears she’s being singled out.

There are current school board members without degrees and some who’s bio on the FCPS website provides very little information about their ability to serve as a school board member and one board member doesn’t have any information uploaded on the website at all. The school board chairman Mr. Robert Holt’s bio doesn’t disclose his educational credentials. In all fairness, if one board member’s credentials and qualifications to serve on the school board are in question, then citizens have the right to ask that all school board member credentials and qualifications to serve on the board are reviewed and made public and the basis for appointment and/or re-appointment of each board member who has been nominated.

From my knowledge of Dr. Leonard, she is a humble woman however she may oppose the status quo when necessary. She is a person of integrity and a God-fearing woman. Many citizens are concerned that someone or persons are trying to discredit her ability to serve on the school board.

In reviewing school board videos and previous minutes, several board members are frequently absent and not present to vote on important issues. Concerned citizens want board members who are active participants, who understand school board protocol, who reviews reports before the meeting and understands the importance of being an active participant in the decision making process, not just hold a position as a school board member.

It doesn’t appear there’s much interest in the various wards to serve on the school board because recently there was only one nomination for Ward-1 (Mrs. Rebecca Jester) and Ward-3 (Dr. Andrea Leonard.) However, there was an article published about Dr. Leonard, which appears The Tidewater News went through great lengths to research the validity of Dr. Leonard’s credentials, which are irrelevant to her service as a school board member. Several citizens of the city of Franklin traveled to Alexandria, Virginia, to attend Dr. Leonard’s commencement exercises in 2012 such as myself, and are proud of her accomplishments.

As a concerned citizen of the city of Franklin and parent who withdrew my children from FCPS due to substandard test scores, which is equivalent to a failing school division, I believe it’s my responsibility to speak up for families less fortunate than myself, who are just as concerned about their children receiving a quality education, and less concerned about the local politics, which often creates racial tension and division in the community and within the schools and wants to put an end to the misrepresentation of African-American children and men and women in the community.

All children can and will learn with the proper supports in place. It’s time out for what appears to be an overt attempt to defame the integrity and character of African-American community leaders by the media and private circles that try to discredit and suppress their unique gifts and talents. Our community is desperately suffering, and there is a need for the mayor and city councilmen to be objective, to support the schools and appoint school board members who will really make a difference. Thanks in advance for holding all school board members accountable to the same standards and for safeguarding transparency of the credentials and qualifications to serve on the school board of all school board members.

Amy Branch