, 2015

School board hires
three nurses; chairman
issues public apology

by Audrey Thomasson

KILMARNOCK—The question of when the district would have permanent, fully qualified nurses to handle the medical needs of Lancaster’s school children was answered Monday when the school board voted 5-0 to hire three final candidates.

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Kelly Kellum, a former emergency room nurse at Rappahannock General Hospital (RGH), will begin part time Thursday and Friday at the primary school. She starts full time February 3.

Jacquelyn Veney, an operating room nurse at RGH, begins February 3 at the middle school. High school students already know Catherine Wilson, former telemetry and surgery nurse at RGH, because she has been substituting at the school. She started full-time on Tuesday.

While interim superintendent Sandy Spears received a warm welcome from the public, one citizen questioned how she could have a signed contract “before” a vote was taken to remove the former superintendent.

Lancaster County NAACP chapter president Lloyd Hill questioned board members during the public comment section. However, since the board does not answer questions during the meeting, District 1 member Bob Smart addressed the issue after the meeting.

“We knew we had a consensus of at least three members of the board in making the switch to an acting superintendent half way through the school year,” said Smart. “A number of active and retired school employees brought up Ms. Spears’ name as an excellent choice until a permanent superintendent is selected. She knows the school system, having served here as a principal since 1994, and is highly respected by teachers for her leadership. We wanted to ensure continuity so that we would have a productive second half of the year.”

Smart said the school board attorney was contacted and responded with an open contract that did not designate Spears or anyone else. “Spears was not hired until the vote was taken. She agreed to start work the day after the vote without pay or a contract until they were finalized later that week,” he said.

“There were no meetings of board members until the January 6 special meeting that was announced in the January 2 edition of the Rappahannock Record,” said Smart.

Meanwhile, District 5 member and school board chairman Dr. Robert Westbrook issued an apology to two citizens he said were treated with “incivility and defamed” by the former head of the school system and the school board remained silent. Westbrook was not on the board at the time; however, he included himself in his criticism because he remained silent, he said.

“For us to tolerate bad behavior is to sanction bad behavior,” Westbrook said in his apology to Jack Larson, who retired as county finance director but continues to volunteer his time in the post, and school board member Bob Smart.

Although the full board supported the measure for Larson, two members objected when it came to Smart.

“Why should we apologize to Mr. Smart when we didn’t do anything?” asked District 2 member Ella Davis.

“Because this board sanctioned it by remaining silent. The gavel should have come down when it occurred,” Westbrook replied.

“I don’t want bad behavior to take place...but I don’t want to vote on it,” said District 3 member Don McCann, who claimed the problems were caused by a personality conflict between former superintendent Dr. Daniel Lukich and Smart.

District 4 member Patrick McCranie said, “We owe it to the public to be cordial to one another.”

“I bear no malice,” Smart said in recusing himself from the vote. “I observed action in which I disagreed and objected.”

Davis and McCann abstained.

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