Virginia State Conference NAACP supports elected school board

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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Virginia State Conference NAACP President Robert N. Barnette Jr. announced the organzation’s full support for an elected school board in Southampton County.

Mandy Hall

The current selection method for the Southampton County School Board involves a circuit court judge appointing three people who comprise the School Board Selection Commission, and that commission selects the school board members.

The county is one of the few localities in Virginia that still uses this method.

Mandy Hall and other parents with children in Southampton County Public Schools helped lead a successful campaign earlier this year to have a referendum added to the ballot for the Nov. 8 election.

The referendum asks voters: “Shall the method of selecting the school board be changed from appointment by the school board selection commission to direct election by the voters?”

Hall reached out to Barnette on Monday afternoon, Oct. 31, via email, letting him know about the referendum.

“We worked very hard to get enough signatures to get the referendum on the ballot and believe with all our hearts that the democratic process at the local level is vital to the success of our schools,” she wrote. “We recently learned there is a group of people who oppose an elected school board, claiming it would bring toxic politics into our schools.”

She wrote that given the Virginia State Conference NAACP’s work elsewhere in the state, “I was wondering if you would be willing to provide a brief endorsement for us, asking people to vote yes on our referendum.”

Barnette replied less than an hour later with the following statement: “The VA State Conference NAACP stands in full support for an ‘elected’ school board in Southampton County where an appointed school board now exists. Congratulations for getting this on the ballot. You’re almost there. If you need additional support, please let me know.”

Asked by The Tidewater News for her reaction to the statement, Hall said, “I appreciate the support and am very glad the NAACP recognizes that an appointed school board is less responsive to the public, decreases public interest in school and gives school board members less independence and freedom to act in the best interests of their school system. They recognize that we must fight for our rights and not turn back the clock on our community.”