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Patriot Community Encouraged to Wear Red for Bishop

| June 12, 2016 | 0 Comments | Education
Dr. Michael Bishop, Principal of Patriot High School

Dr. Michael Bishop, Principal of Patriot High School

Supporters of Dr. Michael Bishop, Principal of Patriot High School in Nokesville, are encouraging community members to wear red as a show of support for Bishop while attending the June 15 Prince William School Board meeting.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Kelley Center.

The gathering is a response to the school board’s straw poll, June 7, which placed Bishop’s employment contract in jeopardy.

The online flyer reads “Time to Show Up! WEAR READ” and includes #PATRIOTFORBISHOP.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 8.12.09 PMRed is the color students most often wear in support of Patriot sports teams, and fans are sometimes collectively referred to as “Red Nation.”

Community members planning the event hope to send a clear message that they appreciate Bishop’s leadership and the school board ought to renew his contract.

Last week, the Prince William School Board conducted a straw poll to determine if Bishop should receive a continuing contract.

The document reads:

That the Prince William School Board will not offer or extend an employment contract or renewal to employee T16-44 for the 2016-17 school year until such time as the School Board is satisfied, by majority vote, with the results of a complete and thorough investigation into employee T16-44’s alleged violations of school laws.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 8.55.00 PMThe majority of the board voted “Yes.”

Votes appear to have been split along party lines.

Lillie Jessie (Occoquan), Diane Raulston (Neabsco), Justin Wilk (Potomac) and Loree Williams (Woodbridge) voted “Yes” to not renewing Bishop’s contract.

Willie Deutsch (Coles), Alyson Satterwhite (Gainesville) and Gil Trenum (Brentsville) voted “No.”

Chairman Ryan Sawyers abstained from voting.

While Bishop has not been terminated from his position as principal, the vote removed the security his contract had provided.

There is a history between Sawyers and Bishop. Back in February of 2015, Sawyers and Bishop were involved in a civil lawsuit.

Bishop sued Sawyers and another area gentleman for $3.35 million for defamation of character, civil conspiracy, and contract interference, regarding his employment with PWCS, referencing emails and online postings that Bishop alleged Sawyers made about him.

Many of the charges were dismissed.

Both men are presidents of rival youth baseball leagues, which both operate in and around Gainesville. The personal disagreements likely began with the rocky relationship between the two leagues.

Sawyers is president of the Bull Run Little League while Bishop is president of the Gainesville Haymarket Baseball League.

Sawyers could not comment on his involvement with the straw poll or investigation into Bishop, saying he does not comment on personnel matters.

Brentsville School Board representative Gil Trenum spoke to Bristow Beat about the matter in a limited capacity.

Trenum said he cannot comment on the specifics of the personnel matter as it would unfair to all staff members for him to do so.

However, he did comment on the process employed by his board.

“I have concerns about the general process by which this has been handled,” said Trenum. “We’re getting into some dangerous practices.”

He noted the board has not previously inserted itself in this way before.

“This is not the normal way of doing business,” Trenum said.

He also explained that he believes it is important employees receive due process.

As for his response, Bishop has hired an attorney. The attorney  sent a letter to board members, June 10, expressing his concerns about the process of the poll.

Jack L. White, Esq. described the poll as “unlawful”in his letter to the school board pursuant to state statutes and school division regulations.

White said that according to the Board’s Regulation 137-1, regarding “School Board Governance and Operations,” straw polls ought to be used “to obtain guidance on ‘unusual urgent situations and on time-sensitive matters.’”

Secondly, White asserted that “it was unlawful for the Board to undertake a negative human resource action against a public school administrator,” in the manner they had done so, arguing Bishop was deprived of due process.

White also wrote that Virginia Code 22.1-294(B), prescribes that “local school board are to provide the ‘division superintendent’ criteria by which to evaluate principals and make recommendations.”

Additionally, he cited Virginia Code 22.1-294(D), which states…

[N]o salary reduction and reassignment…shall be made without first providing such principal…with written notice of the reason for such reduction and reassignment and an opportunity to present his…position at an informal meeting with the division superintendent…or the school board.

According to White, Bishop learned about the straw poll via Facebook two days prior to the Patriot High School graduation.

White notes that Dr. Bishop has served for 24 years in the field of education and five years as principal of Patriot High School.

In 2015, The Washington Post “Challenge Index” Patriot was recognized as one of the top three-percent of high schools in the nation.

“My hope is that by correcting the course that you have set, we can avoid the unwarranted creation of an adversarial circumstance,” White’s letter states.

© 2016, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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