Spotsylvania residents file petition to block Taylor’s appointment as superintendent


Members of the Spotsylvania School Board are now charged in two ongoing lawsuits in the county court system.

Last week, two county residents, Jeffrey Glazer and Christina Ramos, filed a motion with the Circuit Court seeking “a temporary and permanent injunction against the hiring of Mark Taylor”, and on Tuesday morning the Court Judge circuit breaker Ricardo Rigual heard arguments appealing the dismissal. earlier this year of a petition alleging the school board violated the Freedom of Information Act at its first meeting in January.

The petition filed Oct. 4 by Glazer and Ramos, who are parents or legal guardians of students attending public schools in Spotsylvania County, cites Virginia Code Section 22.1-87which allows any parent, guardian or legal guardian to seek judicial review of a school board’s action.

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Glazer and Ramos are seeking judicial review of the school board’s Sept. 15-16 decisions to offer and negotiate a contract with Taylor, a lawyer and former multi-county administrator in Virginia who has no education background, for the job. of superintendent.

“We intend to show that under the code, the actions of the Spotsylvania County School Board were both capricious and an abuse of discretion in direct violation of [Virginia Code]wrote the petitioners.

A Circuit Court clerk confirmed Tuesday that all seven members of the school board had been notified of the petition and that a hearing date would be set.

The petition alleges, among other things, that Taylor has a personal relationship with school board president Kirk Twigg that should have been deemed a conflict of interest, and that the board ignored the public’s will in hiring a candidate. without training in education. He also argues that Twigg acted improperly by informing Virginia Department of Education staff that Taylor was the “final candidate” before the board voted to recommend him and by signing a final contract with Taylor without l Board approval.

Additionally, Glazer and Ramos are seeking an emergency hearing on their motion before November 1, when Taylor’s contract is due to take effect.

Also Tuesday morning, Jeremy Capps, an attorney representing the school board, and Fred and Jenna Edwards, attorneys representing Spotsylvania alum Makaila Keyes, were in Circuit Court to present arguments related to a motion Keyes filed in March alleging violation of his rights. under FOIA.

The Edwards are appealing District General Court Judge John Martin’s decision earlier this year to dismiss the case, which alleges that Twigg and school board members April Gillespie, Lisa Phelps and Rabih Abuismail violated Keyes’ rights. proposing and approving an agenda for the January 10 meeting. that had not been made available to the public in advance, attending a closed meeting that was not on the agenda, and failing to properly vote to participate in the closed meeting.

The closed meeting in question resulted in the termination without cause of former Superintendent Scott Baker.

Capps argued before Rigual that the case should be dismissed again because the FOIA, as described in the Virginia Code section 2.2-3707only requires that “the date, time and place” of public meetings – not the agenda – be posted three days in advance.

He also argued that the law does not prevent public bodies from discussing matters that are not on the published agenda, and that Keyes lacks standing to sue because she n has no “rights and privileges” which have been denied to him by the acts of the council.

He said the second closed meeting was exempt from FOIA requirements for a legitimate reason — to discuss personnel matters — and therefore no privileges were denied.

Fred Edwards responded by quoting Virginia Code, which states: “The provisions of [the Freedom of Information Act] should be interpreted liberally to promote increased awareness by all persons of government activities and to provide every opportunity for citizens to witness the operations of government.

“I believe [the right of any member of the public to claim the denial of privileges] is the teeth the lawmaker wanted the FOIA to have,” Edwards said. “They don’t want it to be a meaningless law. FOIA is a social contract. If it has no teeth, how will it be applied? »

Jenna Edwards argued that the law is not explicit about the “rights and privileges” provided by the FOIA.

“What it does is provide requirements for officials to follow,” she said.

Fred Edwards said Capps was asking the court to rule that “any public body can tell the public it will do one thing and then pull a bait and switch.”

“The public understanding was that this was a closed meeting for the board to discuss hiring a new attorney. Chaos ensued when the board held a second closed meeting that was not on the agenda,” Edwards said. “The FOIA is designed to prevent that. Do we want to set a precedent that the government can do whatever it wants? should law have any meaning?

Rigual said he was not going to make a decision right away, but that one would be made “in a few weeks”.

Adele Uphaus: 540/735-1973



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