‘Isle of White’ County public schools?

Published 4:20 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2020

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To the editor:

On June 5, 2020, I mailed a letter from my address in Carrollton, detailing my citizen’s concerns to the Isle of Wight County School Board at 820 West Main St., Smithfield, VA 23430, in accordance w/Dr. [James] Thornton’s new School Board meeting procedures during COVID-19 in order for Mrs. [Tracey] Reutt to read my concerns for the School Board and for citizens to hear my concerns. In violation of my First Amendment right, Freedom of Speech, Mrs. [Jackie] Carr, IWCS Board Chair, decided not to have my letter read in public because of my stated concerns, I think.

My letter stated what I believe are several instances of incompetence and neglect of duty by the IWCS Board, Dr. Thornton, and the School Board Clerk. By IWCS’s Chair failing to have my comments read in public, [that] only reinforced my concerns further.

My letter asked the following of Mrs. Carr:

1) What are the discipline measures that can be assessed by the School Board in Dr. Thornton’s contract?

2) Should School Board members resign from their position if they are unable to abide by all lOW policies, state and federal laws or if they are derelict in their duties?

3) Who is responsible for documenting accurately in the Board minutes what is discussed in open session?

4) Who is responsible for assessing discipline measures to Dr. Thornton if he violates his contract provisions, state or federal laws, school board policy, etc.?

5) Is the IWCS Board required to vote on all state contracts?

I asked Mrs. Carr, is there an issue w/ racism and inequality in the Isle of Wight’s school system? Here’s why I ask. 1) Why is there only 1 African American out of 21 leadership positions in the Central Office staff? 2) Why does Carrollton have 2 STEM teachers and Hardy ZERO? 3) Why are ALL 9 Instructional Coaches, 9 Teachers of the Year winners, 2 School Board Student Liaisons, 10 student leaders, 2 Athletic Directors, and 8 of 9 Principals ALL WHITE? 64 of 65 people are WHITE! IWCS Board and Dr. Thornton, do you know what EQUITY, DIVERSITY and NONDISCRIMINATION means?

I pose these written questions too, to Isle of Wight NAACP Chapter President Butler for her to get the answers from Dr. Thornton and/or Board Chair Carr.

James Baldwin said it best, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Thomas Finderson