Prince William School Board Chair Tweets Constituent Email Exchange

| May 28, 2017 | 0 Comments | Education

Ryan Sawyers

Many Prince William citizens were upset to learn that their school board chairman, Ryan Sawyers, had posted on Twitter, Saturday, a email exchanges he had with two constituents, concerning the use of school showers by transgender students.

The emails included the constituents names; their emails were crossed out.

In one of the emails, a woman told Sawyer both she and her husband were concerned that transgender students would be able to use the showers matching their gender identity rather than that of their biological sex. “My husband and I are against the effort to provide transgender bathing facilities in schools in Prince William County.”

“That is not on the agenda,” Sawyers responded. “However updating our non-discrimination policy is and I will proudly vote for it.”*

Should the Prince William County School anti-discrimination policy be updated, it would include language about protecting LGBT students and staff from discrimination. The issue of gender bathrooms and showers is not on the agenda for a vote; however, it is the issue most widely discussed by citizens in regards to updating the policy.

In another email posted, a Prince William County grandfather asked who would protect his granddaughter from seeing male genitals while showering.

“Your granddaughter’s and my daughter’s rights will still be protected. The bathroom issue is being used as a distraction,” Sawyers wrote.

Sawyers Tweeted a photo of the email exchange, saying: “We must fight the @PWCGOP, @JeanineLawsonForPW **& @PeteCandland misinformation campaign one email at a time. LGBT Kids deserve to be protected.”

PWCGOP responded, retweeting the photos, and posting “So now @RyanSawyersVA is publicly shaming citizens & releasing their private constituent letters. Did he even get their permission first?”

“They are shamed by their own words? Nice try,” Sawyers responded @PWCGOP.

Sawyers further commented that emails to public officials are a matter of public record, and can be released via the FOIA.

Soon, the controversy spread through social media with school board members Willie Deutsch (Coles), Shawn Brann (Brentsville) and Alyson Satterwhite (Gainesville) weighing in on the matter.

“Now we know what Ryan Sawyers would have done with citizens emails to Milt Johns” Deutsch wrote “post them publicly, lie and call them out, try to shame them for having a position he disagrees with.”

“I don’t care where you fall on a Policy 060 [nondiscrimination] revision. I will not be sharing it with the public on social media,” wrote Brann.

Word spread to local social media education forums where there was outcry among constituents. Some residents called for Sawyers to be recalled (a movement that has been forming for the past nine months). Others focused on discussing the issues of whether students should be able to use the bathroom matching their gender identity.

Many states have sunshine laws stating correspondences between elected officials and constituents and businesses are public record even when they are using private email accounts. Any emails sent to a public official could be obtained according to Freedom of Information Act, yet, one could argue there is an assumption of privacy.

This is not the only email controversy that Sawyers is currently involved in at this time. Last week, Sawyers’ lawyer informed the school division superintendent that he had filed a “writ mandamus” against him, to force him to release the former chairman’s emails.

In addition to serving as Prince William County school board chairman, Ryan Sawyers is currently running to be the Democratic nominee for congressman from Virginia’s 1st District.

*We did not edit nor correct grammar in our sources’ Twitter and Facebook posts. 

*Jeanine Lawson’s Twitter address is posted incorrectly in Sawyer’s Tweet. 

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Category: Education

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