SCHOOL BOARD RECALL
A Brief History of Failed Leadership, Incompetence, and Damaging Ineptitude
A vast majority of students in Virginia Beach were kept out of in-person school from March 2020 through June 2021 due to the decisions of some members of the Virginia Beach School Board. These decisions harmed children and caused a major educational setback for students. School Board members Melnyk, Anderson, Rye, Holtz, Owens, and Riggs voted 3 different times to prevent students from returning to in-person learning. On July 28, 2020, these 6 board members voted to not allow parents to have a choice for their children regarding in-person versus virtual learning and students began the 2020-21 school year in a virtual-only setting. On Oct 27, 2020, a motion was made to direct the superintendent to come up with a plan to return all students who choose in-person learning to be able to attend school 4 days per week. All 6 of these same board members voted against the motion. Again, on Dec 1, 2020, a motion was made to return all students back to school for in-person learning who made that choice. All 6 Board members again voted against the motion.
On November 19, 2020, CDC Director Robert Redfield stated “All schools should remain open. It is the safest place for children to be” and “It is counterproductive to close schools." Pediatricians advising the Virginia Beach School Board stated multiple times that mental health problems among children have greatly increased. The Virginia Beach School Health Advisory Board reported that overall employee medical claims had decreased, but mental health claims had increased. Physicians advising the School Board as well as physician letters sent to the board stressed the importance of students being in school in person, yet Melnyk, Anderson, Rye, Holtz, Owens, and Riggs ignored the advice of medical professionals. We believe students were harmed by the impacts of these votes as most students remained virtual for the entire year. Reading scores declined and students with special needs did not receive services required by law. Multiple emails to the School Board from parents of students with special needs share the negative impact on their children caused by Melnyk, Anderson, Rye, Holtz, Owens. and Riggs.
VBEA UNION MEMBERSHIP OF HOLTZ, ANDERSON, AND RIGGS
Dottie Holtz and Beverly Anderson have admitted to being lifetime members of the Teacher’s Union (VBEA/VEA/NEA) and Trenace Riggs until recently was listed on the VBEA website under their leadership tab as Past-President. During the 2020-21 School year, the Union was very outspoken against in-person learning. On July 27th, 2020, the VBEA President sent an email to the School Board advocating to keep schools closed for in-person learning. On July 28th, Holtz, Anderson, and Riggs fell in line with their Union and voted to not allow in-person learning. On Dec 1st, 2020, the VBEA President sent another letter to the Virginia Beach School Board speaking out against returning students to school, including students with special needs. Holtz, Anderson, and Riggs fell in line again and voted that same day, in the manner their Union wanted, against allowing choice for students to return to school. On July 28th, the VBEA held a protest in the parking lot of the School Board meeting. These employees were honking their horns throughout the meeting and brought along someone dressed as a grim reaper to walk around and instill fear into the public.
“SAFE LEARNING CENTERS”
Melnyk, Anderson, Rye, Holtz, Owens, and Riggs approved of Virginia Beach School buildings to be used as “Safe Learning Centers” (SLC). These SLCs provided child care for employees of the school division and for city employees. The childcare was provided IN Virginia Beach Public School buildings. Students were not allowed to be in the buildings for in-person learning, but children were allowed to be in the building for child care. Meanwhile, parents had to struggle to maintain their own jobs while also being at home teaching their children but were not offered the child care option that was offered to employees. Dottie Holtz even stated in an email that she applauded the Superintendent for providing these SLCs to employees yet voted against parents having a choice to return their students to in-person learning.
EXCERPT FROM AN EMAIL SENT BY A PEDIATRICIAN TO THE SCHOOL BOARD: NOVEMBER 10, 2020
“I am writing on behalf of the many children who need to return to in-person schooling. I am aware that you have met with a panel of physicians and have been given ample data and statistics as to why returning to school is imperative. I simply am writing to give my perspective that the problem is larger than anyone can see by statistics. Each day at work I see patients who are losing their will to learn and have significant additional stressors in their life and mental health concerns that would not meet any statistical significance in terms of inpatient psychiatric services or requests for Child and Behavioral health referrals."
EXCERPT FROM A PARENT EMAIL SENT TO THE SCHOOL BOARD: JANUARY 8, 2021
"...Our special needs daughter loses interest and most days can't log in because of zoom issues. We also see our daughter's personality changing and getting depressed with no socialization with friends. Please get these kids back in school..."