Entire Franklin School Board resigns; leaders discuss how to move forward

FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) — Franklin City Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to accept the resignations of all seven school board members.

Last week, city council demanded school board members resign. The board was originally given a Monday midnight deadline to do so.

A resolution revealed city council lost faith in the ability of current members to do their job. The resolution alleges that the school board failed to “properly manage and control” money that was made available for public schools over the past two years.

Following Wednesday night’s vote, City Manager Randy Martin told 10 On Your Side that council hopes to fill the vacant seats as soon as possible.

“We are hopeful we’ll get a number of nominees and they will be people genuinely interested in the school district and willing to serve,” said Martin.

Council plans to meet this coming Monday to develop a schedule for accepting nominations. A public hearing for citizens to nominate candidates will be scheduled within the next several weeks.

Martin hopes they’ll be able to at least fill some seats by mid-December, for the next scheduled school board meeting.

They anticipate things to go smoothly in the meantime, seeing that as it is, day to day school functions fall on the superintendent.

10 On Your Side found out Friday night that the school board held a closed session meeting. As a result, Dr. Willie Bell was terminated as superintendent of Franklin schools. Kelvin Edwards, the former Director of Teaching, Learning and Accountability, was named interim superintendent.

In a statement released Wednesday, Edwards said, “With the resignation of the entire School Board, we are facing a situation that is unprecedented in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Edwards said city council, the mayor and the city manager will work together, with guidance from State Superintendent Steve Staples to determine how to keep Franklin City Public Schools moving forward until the school board is replaced.

Edwards was present during city council’s vote on Wednesday. He told 10 On Your Side that he is committed to making sure that student’s remain the district’s top priority as the vacant board is filled.

“I want to make sure we keep the children first,” he said.

Parents 10 On Your Side spoke with ahead of the meeting said that their children have not been affected as of yet.

“Things have been fine,” said Nakenya Freeman.

“It seems pretty flawless,” said Scott Maynard. “They go to the school, and they come home, and there hasn’t been any disruption.”

Maynard said it’s concerning that the board is vacant, but he believes that council made the right move by requesting the resignations.

“If they can’t do it correctly, there’s other people that should be able to step up to the plate.”