Prince William School Board Member Alleges Deputy Superintendent Resigned in Response to Board Leadership

| May 20, 2017 | 0 Comments | Education

Rae Darlington, Deputy Superintendent for Prince William County Schools (Image by PWCS)

Prince William School Board member Willie Deutsch of the Coles District shared Deputy Superintendent Rae Darlington’s intent to retire letter sent to the superintendent and school board. Deutsch posted the letter on his Facebook page

Although Darlington praised the Superintendent, Dr. Steven L. Walts, for his leadership, she discussed the motives for her retirement in connection to pressure she felt had been placed on her over the past year.

“This year has been more challenging personally and professionally, knowing that I was going to be discussed for a possible demotion or termination, and being forced to secure and pay for an attorney to protect myself, has been demoralizing,” wrote Darlington.

Over the past year, the school board largely changed members and fell under new leadership of both a new Chairman At-large and Vice Chairman, Ryan Sawyers and Lillie Jessie, respectfully.

Darlington said she wanted to stay with the district a little longer, but the current atmosphere in which she was told her position was in jeopardy hastened her decision to retire.

“I have agonized for months about taking this step prematurely and and leaving when my commitment to to PWCS students has not diminished. However, this year I have been reminded repeated how tentative my position is, when state such as ‘I don’t know if you will have a job,’ continues to be made to me.”

Deutsch wrote on Facebook followers that he believes the actions are in response to school board leadership.

“The entirety of Rae Darlington’s resignation letter is worth reading to get a glimpse into what is going on in our school division due to the actions of our School Board leaders,” he posted. “As a result of advancing personal agendas over students, and constantly treating staff in an unprofessional manner, time, talent, and treasure is being diverted away from educating students.”

Responding to a citizen who said Deutsch campaigned on change, he responded “change is important, but we have to treat people like professionals and make changes based on setting goals not personal agendas.”

Chairman Sawyers had previously said it is inappropriate for school board members to discuss employee matters publicly.

Deutsch said the letter was not delivered in a way that led him to believe Darlington wanted the information kept confidential.

“It was not transmitted to the board in a confidential way. It was handed out to us on the dais and emailed to us later in a way that was not confidential at all,” Deutsch said in a correspondence with Bristow Beat.

Sawyers had also accused Deutsch and another right-leaning school board member of writing about politics on their Facebook pages to get a bigger audience. Deutsch had also been accused of inappropriately sharing the home address of a resident applying for the position of acting school board member.

Deutsch said that Sawyers is doing the same thing in revealing confidential information in a recent Letter to the Editor he published in local media, playing politics and revealing inside information.

Neither Sawyers nor Jessie could not be reached for comment. Bristow Beat will update the article should we hear back from them.

The school board has been rocked by various other incidents over the past year. Patriot High School principal, Dr. Michael Bishop, had his contract held by the school board, although it was eventually renewed.

The school board is currently disputing that the chairman should gain access to his predecessor Milt Johns’s emails. Sawyers said is legitimate as it is helpful for his job as chairman.

Sawyers is also involved in a lawsuit with Bishop, and Bishop’s attorney works at the same firm as Johns, FH+H of Manassas and McLean, something Sawyers is calling into question though Johns has promised to recuse himself.

Two weeks ago, school board member Alyson Satterwhite (Gainesville) asked that the board secure its own counsel, alleging Sawyers’s attorney threatened to sue the board for not allowing the chairman access to his predecessor’s emails.

Darlington only had positive things to say about the division superintendent:

When you first joined PWCS as the Superintendent there was a renewal, resurgence, and a vibrancy to think innovatively, blend, blur or erase the lines to build world class opportunities for students. You challenged us, raised the level of expectations and accountability by charging us with making it happen.

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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