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Roanoke County school board chair steps down, citing Republican party interference

Butzer stepped down, stating he 'lost the confidence' of the majority of the Board.

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – An allegation that politics were driving a wedge into the finalization of school reopening plans, led to the sudden resignation of Roanoke County School Board chairman Donald Butzer from that role.

In a letter sent to the school board and Superintendent, Butzer stepped down from his position stating he “lost the confidence” of the majority of the Board.

He went on to say:

“The deciding factor in my decision to step aside as Chairman was when I found out that three board members were invited to attend a meeting held by Republican Party leaders to organize against our Superintendents Plan, and in today’s paper there is a commentary from the Chairman of the Roanoke County Republican Party asking us to go back to the drawing board on our plan.”

School administrators’ proposed a hybrid schedule with preschool through second grade students receiving in-person instruction daily.

Under the proposed plan, students in all other grades (3rd-12th) will receive in-person instruction twice a week with remote instruction for the remainder of the week.

Michael Wray, who was appointed as the new chairman, told WSLS 10 News that he did not attend the meeting in question.

Wray said he does not believe anyone on the Board is politically driven but would not comment further.

WSLS 10 News reached out to Butzer, other board members, the teacher’s union and the Roanoke County Republican Party for comment.

We either have not heard back or were simply given no comment.

Butzer said he looks forward to finishing his term as a board member, serving the students, teachers and community.

Below Butzer’s full letter:

Dear fellow School Board Members and Dr. Nicely,

It is with deep regret that I have decided to step aside as Chairman of the Roanoke County School Board effective tomorrow July 1, 2020. I believe that I can no longer be effective in that role and more importantly I feel that have lost the confidence of the majority of the Board.

Since I have been on the School Board we have been an apolitical body not swayed by political parties or personal political beliefs.

The deciding factor in my decision to step aside as Chairman was when I found out that three board members were invited to attend a meeting held by Republican Party leaders to organize against our Superintendents Plan and in todays paper there is a commentary from the Chairman of the Roanoke County Republican Party asking us to go back to the drawing board on our plan.

I hold no animosity whatsoever toward anyone on the board who is passionate about their position and feels that they need to organize.

I look forward to serving my constituents in Catawba for the remainder of my term and more importantly in being a partner of yours in serving our students, teachers and community.

We can elect new leadership tomorrow at the work session or just hand off the Chairmanship to Mike for now and elect a vice chair later. Your choice.

Donald T. Butzer

Chairman-Roanoke County School Board


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