For those having trouble reading the document attached below:
August 31, 2021
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE VIRGINIA BEACH SCHOOL BOARD FROM
MEMBER VICTORIA MANNING
Reference 9/1/21 Special School Board Meeting
The Chair’s stated purpose of the meeting: “reviewing, making recommendations or taking actions regarding how the School Board conducts meetings, accepts public comments at certain meetings, prepares for meetings and handles decorum, order and safety or health mitigation protocols for meetings. The School Board reserves the right to address related matters that arise during the Special Meeting.”
Due to an important family obligation, I will not be able to attend the special school board meeting called on 8/30/21 by the Chair. However, I am offering my input on the topics that may be discussed in the meeting.
I call on my colleagues to respect the people we serve. Encourage public participation and in-person access to our meetings. Rather than starting our agendas and meetings with two pages of rules for the public, perhaps we should begin the agenda/meeting with appreciation of the sacrifices of families and students, as well as the hard work of our teachers. Acknowledge that people are upset and want to be heard. These children who are impacted by the decisions we make are not ours. They do not belong to the government. They belong to loving and caring parents who know what is best for their children and the community deserves to bring their passionate voices to our meetings.
My specific input:
1. Public meetings should be open to the public: The Board should be able to offer seating for a minimum of 50 people. Students in classrooms will be 3ft (or less in some cases) yet in our last Board meeting the seating arrangements were more than 6ft apart and only allowed for approximately 8 people. City Council does not have mitigations or social distancing requirements in place and they have been welcoming the public. If City Council can do it, then we can also.
2. Time limits on public speakers: Suggestions have been made by some Board members to reduce the amount of time the public has to address the Board (their elected representatives). Just a few years ago when we voted to increase the time limit from 3 to 4 minutes, it was overwhelmingly supported. One of the reasons mentioned was that the public could only speak once for all items (both agenda and non-agenda). Speakers at city council meetings have an opportunity to speak multiple times during the same meeting and could easily have 15 minutes or more to speak at each meeting. We have had more speakers than we typically have had in the past due to the public feeling unheard regarding decisions being made by the Board. People are upset about decisions made by this Board and they have the right to speak. As a reminder, by-law 1-30 does not permit changes to by-laws unless it is first presented as “information” at one meeting and then voted on at the following meeting. Therefore, no action should be taken on by-law changes at this special meeting.
3. Respect the public and one another: Practice what you preach. If the Chair and Vice-Chair want to shut citizens down for harsh speech and being off agenda then they should consider doing the same when Board members do it. The law protects a citizen’s rights to disagree, be angry and to offer harsh speech to their elected officials. School Board leadership never sent “warning letters” to members of the public when harsh speech was levied at me, it is only done when it is pointed at members of the majority. I believe the Board is violating the First Amendment by censoring speech based on content and I ask for that to end immediately. The members of the public who have come to speak have been peaceful and have attended our meetings out of passion and true concern for the children of the City of Virginia Beach Public Schools. Still members of this Board have tried to paint these parents, grandparents, Pastors, community leaders, etc as a “violent mob” and that false narrative needs to end. When the NEA grim reaper was walking through the parking lot of our administration building scaring people and angry protestors lined the parking lot blowing their horns they were hailed as heroes. The double standard being applied needs to end.
4. “Warning letters” to the public: These letters sent out by the Board Chair recently were not authorized by the Board. Additionally, at least one of the letters was not factual and quoted statements made by the recipient that were absolutely false. Under no circumstance do I support “warning letters” being sent to members of the public. If someone violates a law, then follow the proper procedures to address those issues. The Chair did not send warning letters to other Board members when they acted inappropriately in meetings and the citizens of this great City certainly should not be “reprimanded” by their elected representatives.
5. Following proper meeting procedures and advanced preparation: School Board leadership should be well versed in the Board By-laws and Roberts Rules of Order. The Board chair often has to refer to the school board attorney on meeting procedures which takes valuable time. The Board and Public should also be provided with supporting agenda documents well in advance of the meeting in order to have time to prepare. Often, we have not seen any of the information being presented to us until the meeting begins. Being able to review and prepare in advance saves valuable time during the meeting
School Board At-Large, City of Virginia Beach
Regulations for the Transgender policies have been made public. Please review. Vote THIS Tuesday 8/24 (VOTE POSTPONED UNTIL SEPT 14)
Rather than presenting the transgender policies/regulations to the public two weeks in advance of a vote, the School Board is fast tracking this topic. The public will only have a few days to review, provide input and sign up to speak. Was this done on purpose to keep the public in the dark? (UPDATE: VOTE POSTPONED UNTIL SEPT 14TH)
The School Board is abrogating its responsibility to enact policy to the unelected Superintendent. The School Board will be voting on a policy directing the Superintendent to create a regulation on Transgender policies. Please be aware that the superintendent may change regulations WITHOUT school board approval. Below is the proposed associated policy and regulations.
Items in RED are additions/changes to policy/regulation.
Please sign up to speak at the next school board meeting (either in person or via zoom). Agenda found here.
Email the School Board your thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org
Transgender Policy Vote THIS Tuesday 8/24: School Board lack of transparency and delegating its responsibilities to the Superintendent.
The VDOE created Model Policies for transgender students and local school boards have been told to implement these policies. While there are some positive items in the document (of which the VA Beach Schools Board has already implemented), it is my view that some of these policies violate other laws and the constitution in the area of parental rights.
Lack of transparency: the School Board agenda only indicates that the Board will be voting on "Policy 5-7/Non-Discrimination/Non Harassment of Students. However, the agenda does not provide any supporting documents to the public of what exactly will be voted on. The normal process is for a policy to come before the board for "information" and then for a "vote" at the following meeting. This way the public has enough time to know that it is on the agenda and to provide input. As of 8/19/21, the agenda does NOT provide any additional info. However, I do have the policy 5-7 that will be voted on this Tuesday (it is unfortunate that the Board Chair and Vice Chair appear to be hiding this from the public). You can find a copy of the entire VDOE document here and I am also providing a 2 page summary below.
Contact the School Board and let them know your view point: email@example.com.
Vote on 8/24: VBCPS Transgender Policies--violating parental rights and School Board delegating its responsibilities to the unelected Superintendent without informing the public
The VA Beach School Board will be voting on a policy that directs the Superintendent to create regulations, practices and trainings that comply with the VDOE Model Policies on Transgender students. While there are some positive items in the document such as anti-bullying policies, there are also policies that take away parental rights and student rights to privacy. VBCPS already has policies in place regarding bullying so there is no need to adopt new ones. The superintendent’s regulations will not require Board approval.
Contact the Virginia Beach School Board and let them know how you feel on this topic: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also plan to attend the School Board meeting and sign up to speak! More info to come when agenda is published.
Here is a summary of the model policies and what will be implemented if this policy passes:
Here is a copy of the proposed policy:
SCHOOL REOPENING PLAN:
The School Board approved the administration's reopening plan by a vote of 7-4 (nays-Hughes, Manning, Franklin, Weems). Here are the details:
1. Masks required for all students and staff and anyone who enters the building.
2. Contact tracing will continue. When students are masked, an infected student is NOT considered a close contact if between 3-6 ft.
3. Asymptomatic vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine but non-vaccinated will be.
4. Plexiglass will not be necessary
5. 3 ft of social distancing will be maintained when possible.
6. All sports, clubs, band, performing arts will be in session. Coaches and athletes must wear face coverings indoors. Athletes may relax masks when engaged in physical activity. Masks not required outdoors for athletes, coaches or spectators. Indoor spectators must be 6ft distanced.
I was told that students whose parents do not want them to be masked will NOT be provided an alternative and will NOT be provided with the Constitutional right to a free high quality public education.
Below is a medical exemption for masks if your doctor deems it necessary.