LETTER: Vote for elected school board

Published 6:15 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2022

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To the Editor:

The Nov. 8th election in Southampton County may be one of the most important one during our lifetime. A referendum will ask voters if they want to change how the seats on the School Board are filled. In 1992, Virginia became the last state in the country to allow elected school boards, after nearly a century of the restricted process that is viewed as Jim Crow era disenfranchisement. Governor Wilder at the time indicated it would improve educational systems.

Southampton County is one of the last counties in the state to still abide by the appointed School Board process, but the signatures of over 2,000 residents who signed the petition for the referendum to appear on the ballot underscores the citizens’ desire for a democratic process.

Opponents of this change indicate that it would bring “toxic politics” into our school system. By definition, school board members do not run for office as a Republican or Democrat, so it’s hard to understand how having representative leadership on our School Board would be toxic.

Rather, I would ask the voters of Southampton County why some School Board members have served for decades, yet they don’t require an audit of their operating funds, they seem unaware of the basic requirements for monitoring and improving school safety, and consistently remain silent and non-responsive to parents with concerns and questions. From removing honors classes from the curriculum to the hostile work environment for some teacher and staff, the list of grievances conveyed to the School Board is long, documented, well-researched and alarming.

To start the process of change and introduce accountability and accessibility, please vote yes to an elected school board on Nov. 8.  

Mandy Hall