The Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) voted to leave the National School Board Association (NSBA). The Thursday decision places the VSBA in the company of other state school board associations who are dissociating from the NSBA after the national association sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking for federal law enforcement to respond to threats and attacks related to school board politics.
However, that’s not the only reason the VSBA wants to leave
Virginia Beach has several competitive House of Delegates races where Republicans hope to make gains that will help power them to a House of Delegates majority. GOP candidates are focusing on a mix of law-and-order and education policy in a city where school board politics underlie several of the local House races.
In HD 83, Attorney Tim Anderson is challenging Delegate Nancy Guy (D-Virginia Beach), a former school board member. In the past, Anderson has endorsed and legally represented School Board Member Victoria Manning, a member of a conservative minority faction on the school board. Manning herself has pushed for recalls of her fellow school board members, including Vice Chair Kim Melnyk, who is challenging Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) in HD 84. Additionally, 2020 school board candidate Jeffrey Feld is challenging Delegate Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach) in HD 81.
Virginia Beach School Board Member Victoria Manning is one of the leaders of a group trying to recall six other school board members. Students First VA (SFVA) announced this week that it is collecting signature for the recalls, focusing on 2020-2021 virtual learning.
“We believe that students should always be first and that the goal of the school system, the goal of the board, the goal of the administration, the goal of the teachers should be to put those interests above all else. And we’re not convinced that’s been done around the state, but especially focused here in Virginia Beach,” SFVA President Tim Mack told The Virginia Star. “If you look both at the recall petition themselves as well as our website and other sources, you’ll see that the school board certainly had information to make a different decision than it did and decided to close schools against the wishes of parents, against the direction of local physicians, and healthcare providers, as well as the CDC. And we think that those decisions were not good for all the students in the school, in particular, those with special needs.”
The Prince William School Board (PWSB) and Virginia Beach School Board (VBSB) are both considering changes to public hearing procedures, a move aimed at making meetings more efficient in an era of controversial school board decisions. The PWSB proposal includes an expansion of the citizen comment period from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, but limits speakers to two minutes for a total of 30 speakers. It also prohibits members of the public from having signs in the school board meeting room.
PWSB Chair Babur Lateef read that proposal for the first time at the Wednesday meeting. He explained, “The Prince William County School Board wanted to review the proposed revisions intended to improve our efficiency and safety of board meetings increase avenues of communications with the public particularly on agenda items and incorporate recent legislative changes to provisions of Virginia FOIA as they relate to the confidentiality of the personal contact information of citizens.”