PWCS School Board Selects Dr. Barbar Lateef as Interim School Board Chairman

| April 18, 2018 | 0 Comments | Education

The Prince William County School Board selected Dr. Barbar Lateef Wednesday to be their Interim School Board Chairman At-Large until a special election is held in November.

Lateef is an ophthalmologist. He has served on various boards such as the UVA NOVA Task Force and served as the Board of Director at the SPARK Foundation. He is a PTO member at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

Lateef was chosen out of 20 candidates. They include a long-time chairman of the school board, former member, former acting-member, former high-level PWCS employee, a Fairfax County teacher, two Virginia mom-activists, and several successful professionals.

The choice was a controversial one and passed 4-3 along partisan lines. Even though Virginia school boards do not run with party affiliations, they often have the support of one of the two major parties.

Those voting in the affirmative were known Democrats Vice Chairwoman Lillie Jessie (Occoquan), Diane Raulston (Neabsco), Loree Williams (Woodbridge), and Justin Wilks (Potomac.)

Those who voted no were known Republicans Gil Trenum (Brentsville), Alyson Satterwhite (Gainesville) and Willie Deutsch (Coles.)

The Democrats supported the choice, saying that Barbar was qualified and involved in the community.

Williams said she wanted a “fresh face” on the board who also had significant community experience.

But Trenum was the first to say he would be voting against Lateef, saying “he did not meet the criteria that I thought was most important.”

Satterwhite, who is running for the chairmanship in the special-election, said she could not support someone who was a “top donor” for the previous Chairman, Ryan Sawyers. The Prince William Republican Committee offered a similar sentiment, noting how controversial Sawyers was as Chairman.

Deutsch elaborated that the board’s challenge was to overcome “hyper-partisanship” and he was hoping they could have compromised on a less political candidate.

However, Lateef’s supporters defended him.

“I’m not going to let the partisanship shots fly,” said Wilk. He said Lateef has worked with community members regardless of political affiliation.

He said that Lateef did run for chairman (of the board of county supervisors) in 2011 against “one of the most polarizing figures in the Commonwealth,” referring to Chairman Corey Stewart.

Stewart is a Republican who has said he was “Trump before Trump” and promised to run a “vicious” campaign for U.S. Senate against Tim Kaine.

Acting-Chairwoman Jessie said, “I think he is honorable regardless of his political leanings.” She said it is possible to learn on the job as she had.

“I’m very excited; I think it’s a great opportunity to work with the school board members to make the school system really world class,” said Lateef in an interview with Bristow Beat after the vote.

He said his family has been interested in education issues for a long time now.

“I’ve spent a lot of time working with children. My own children, working the school system as a member of the PTO I serve on the board of visitors for the University of Virginia…It’s a very important topic in our family. My wife’s a pediatric neurologist. As a family we’re very involved in educational issue, so we feel that we have something to contribute to making the school system better.”

He is not discouraged by the board member’s concerns over partisanship.

“I think that’s just the nature of politics in general, running in elections in general, and I hope to work with everyone regardless of party working on all their issues and concerns.”

Lateef said he does plan to run for the chairman’s position in the November special election.

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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