Virginia School Board Association Faces Exodus as Districts Depart

The Virginia School Board Association (VSBA), a longstanding organization dedicated to supporting school boards in the state, is experiencing an exodus as several districts withdraw over claims of neglecting their needs and a divergence from conservative values.

Founded in 1906, the VSBA offers a range of services, including networking opportunities, professional development sessions, policy and legal assistance, governance training, and support with superintendent searches.

However, discontent among some conservative and newly elected board members, particularly from Warren and Orange counties, suggests dissatisfaction with the association’s failure to prioritize their legislative concerns and provide training that reflects their principles.

Gina Patterson, the executive director of VSBA, refrained from directly addressing these claims, asserting that the association’s decisions are driven by the majority of its members’ priorities and legislative stances.

Prior to their election, members of dissenting school boards campaigned on addressing parental apprehensions regarding the inclusion of perceived “divisive concepts” in schools, ensuring student safety, challenging controversial policies regarding transgender students and books, and advocating for the renaming of schools and mascots associated with Confederate ideologies. Governor Glenn Youngkin’s campaign similarly emphasized these issues.

As more districts opt to leave the VSBA, questions arise regarding the organization’s effectiveness in representing the diverse interests and values of Virginia’s school boards.

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