Sheriff: Spotsylvania Deputies Will No Longer Provide Security at School Board Meetings

The sheriff for Spotsylvania County, Virginia, says the school board chair has used deputies to interfere with the public's First Amendment rights

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Spotsylvania County Sheriff Roger Harris says his deputies will no longer provide security for school board meetings due to a situation that has become a "festering sore."

School board meetings have been tumultuous for weeks as the board and the public has discussed the controversy surrounding superintendent candidate Mark Taylor. Taylor has experience as a county administrator and attorney, but has no experience in education.

Harris said his deputies have been unnecessarily put in the middle between citizens and School Board Chair Kirk Twigg, who he believes is interfering with the first amendment right people have to speak their mind.

Twigg banged his gavel and ordered deputies remove a woman who was speaking at the podium during a meeting Monday night. Harris said that was the final straw after many contentious meetings.

"When the chairman of the school board says to the deputies, 'I’ve heard enough. You can get 'em out of here,' the morale of the deputies over the past several months has just decreased rapidly, and when we're asked to do things that are obviously a violation of the First Amendment … It's a depressing job to be there and be treated -- to see the public treated the way they are by members of the school board, primarily the chairman,” he said.

Twigg heads the conservative majority on the board that took over last year and immediately fired popular superintendent Scott Baker.

News4's Derrick Ward has more on the tense meeting and scorching criticism of the new chair, Kirk Twigg.

Twigg then led the effort to name Taylor, who is one of his friends, as the new superintendent.

Harris said it saddens him to see the controversy that now surrounds the school district.

"I’m all about the kids, and when I look at this national disgrace that we see from some of the school board members, it's
just gut-wrenching to me, to be perfectly honest with you," he said. "We’ve had one of the best school systems anywhere around and now all of a sudden we are looked upon as a jokester situation."

Harris said his department will continue to staff a school resource officer at all 31 county schools.

He said deputies will continue to be available to respond to any emergencies that might occur at school board meetings.

On Thursday, the Virginia Board of Education voted 6-2 to give Taylor a superintendent’s license.

The vote came after hours of public comments from dozens of people, mostly against allowing Taylor to lead the school system.

Many accused Taylor of making offensive social media posts, which were cited by one board member who voted "no." Taylor has not said if the posts belong to him.

In a video posted on the Spotsy Parents for Public Education Facebook page, Rich Lieberman asked Taylor after the vote if he wanted to comment about the social media posts.

Taylor said "no" and that he hadn't seen them.

Critics have said Taylor isn't qualified to lead the school district and that the process in bringing his name forward was flawed.

Several people spoke in favor of Taylor Thursday, including three Spotsylvania School Board members who said Taylor is the victim of a orchestrated smear campaign.

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