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Exasperated with school board

To the Editor:

My friend Tom Finderson recently sent a letter to Jackie Carr, Isle of Wight County School Board chair, asking her 44 questions and requesting certain related documents. Tom did not believe what she said in an earlier board meeting about being completely open about two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits. I do not believe her either.

After Tom paid $70 for FOIA documents, reading Carr’s limited written responses and info in the Jan. 5 lawsuit transcript, the following is the truth. She didn’t tell citizens the school board voted on June 11, 2020, for all regular board meetings to start at 6 p.m., therefore “dumbing” citizens out of the 5 p.m. actual start when the 6 p.m. agenda approval, reason(s) for going into “closed meeting” and roll call occur. When asked during the Jan. 5 FOIA trial, in front of the judge, “what were the issues in the first lawsuit,” Carr only stated one. This prompted the plaintiff’s attorney to ask her to read the suit aloud. 

There were five issues, not one. Carr tells the public only two! One of the issues not mentioned to citizens was that the board had stopped documenting in detail the motions to go into closed session in the minutes from May 2019-July 2020. Tom and I both think this was intentionally done. 

Chair Carr also did not tell citizens that in the first consent order each board member had to reread the entire FOIA law. Each board member gets this FOIA training upon taking office initially. Next the board gets sued a second time for violating FOIA’s provisions, again.  

The second consent order had four points, not one. 

Why are our school board members still in their elected office? Citizens have been assured by Carr by letter dated July 30, and verbally since then, that the board would stop failing to comply with the provisions of FOIA.  This was only done after the board was given a copy of the FOIA Advisory Council Opinion A0-01-20 by Alan Gernhardt, executive director, dated May 29, 2020, addressing the board being FOIA noncompliant since the current superintendent came to IWCS. Tom had to pay to get the truth. Is there anyone in the Carrsville school board district willing to run for the board, adhere to IWCS policy and school laws, hold their one employee responsible for his actions and always tell the truth to us citizens?

Herb De Groft

Smithfield