Main menu


State Board Approves Spotsylvania Superintendent Candidates With No Educational Background

featured image

RICHMOND, Virginia (WRIC) — Virginia Board of Education places vacant position for controversial Spotsylvania County superintendent candidate with no teaching experience and history of inflammatory social media posts Agreed to clear the way.

Many speakers call on board to reject Mark Taylor’s inclusion on state’s list of qualified superintendents due to lack of relevant experience and racist social media posts I was. A handful of speakers supported his candidacy, accusing those opposing his appointment of being politically biased.

Taylor was elected to the school board after the school board abruptly fired the former superintendent in January without reason.

Who is Mark Taylor?

Mark Taylor is currently the mayor of Greene County west of Spotsylvania. Prior to that, he served as legal counsel for the Spotsylvania County Government. He has never worked in public education and has no educational background.

This has been a big issue for many Spotsylvania educators and parents who spoke at the Virginia School Board meeting on Thursday.

“Mr. Taylor has no experience as an education administrator,” said Rich Lieberman, a former candidate for the Spotsylvania Board of Education.

But Lisa Phelps, the current board member who voted to send Taylor as a candidate before the BOE, said it didn’t matter and the decision should be made solely by the county. county. “

Controversy has also swirled over what Taylor posted on his personal Facebook page. It is said to contain content calling on parents to separate.

A Facebook post, apparently made by Mark Taylor, was submitted to the school board for consideration on Thursday.

Julie Young, a parent of two who attends Spotsylvania schools, said, “This is the type of man I would never want to be associated with my children.” “And I certainly don’t want him in charge of the entire school department.”

In an interview with ABC affiliate WJLA, Taylor told reporters that the posts were not made by him, but were posted over several months, and that unrelated posts believed to be from Taylor were included. said to be scattered.

“I don’t understand how someone could attack or gain access to an account. I think it’s possible,” he told WJLA.

One board speaker scoffed at the explanation.

“His posts are time-stamped and go back many years, but now they allude to him being hacked,” said Rebecca Murray, a retired teacher of 20 years. rice field. “Too little, too late, too convenient”

However, county substitute teacher Laurie Symansky said the post was dug up “with mob-like gloss, fire and slander tactics” as part of a politically-motivated attack on Taylor.

From Spotsylvania resident James Manship, Taylor also claimed that he sometimes appeared before the board in colonial attire and spoke as the “spirit” of founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. also gained support.

Limitations of local control

When it came time for the board to consider approval of Taylor’s license as a director, the question hung over what role the state board should play in determining his suitability.

Virginia law allows local boards of education to nominate candidates for superintendent who are not qualified to serve as educators, but they must be approved by the state board of education before being added to the list of candidates. need to add.

Clarence Collins, head of the Spotsylvania Education Association, has asked the board to use their oversight to block Taylor’s license.

“Rome is on fire. As an education leader, this is your balcony moment,” he said. I have to make a decision.”

Meanwhile, Spotsylvania resident Roy Searles tied Taylor’s endorsement to Glenn Youngkin’s victory in the 2021 election.

“Governor Youngkin swept Spotsylvania County. Four members of our majority also won the election by a landslide,” he said. “The people of Spotsylvania County have spoken.”

Ann Holton, a member of the state commission appointed by former governor Ralph Northam, said she initially wanted to approve Taylor’s candidacy.

“Frankly, I started reading the public comments because I wanted to be able to approve the Spotsylvania board’s nomination for superintendent,” she said. “I am a strong believer in local control.”

But when he saw Facebook posts allegedly written by Taylor, including mocking Oprah Winfrey for being fat and black, denigrating immigrants, and urging parents to keep their children out of public schools. , she changed her mind.

“These are all within the last 18 months. These are recent posts,” she said.

Other board members, however, said it was the responsibility of local boards, not states, to scrutinize candidates.

“If I were on the local board, I would consider these Facebook posts disqualifying,” said Dr. Alan Seibert, Youngkin’s appointee. But Seibert added that the ultimate responsibility lies with local boards, not state boards of education.

The board eventually voted to approve Taylor’s inclusion on the list by a 6-2 vote, with Holton and Dr. Tammy Mann voting against.