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Danville School Board LIVE! – (6/19/2014)

SouthsideCentral is LIVE! at the special meeting of the Danville School Board. Will the superintendent be fired today? What will happen? You’ll find out here. Refresh the page often for the latest happenings.

We’ll start our coverage around 2:45 PM.

Quick Recap: Ed Newsome’s job was definitely in jeopardy today, but he survived somehow. We’ll have a recap article on this tomorrow morning. In the meantime, click on the jump and read the recap of what happened today.

Remember to refresh this page often for the latest happenings.


2:55 PM – Crowd is big.


The crowd builds in the lobby before the doors are opened.

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention that I am the only white person here. Let me be clear that this not a race issue being handled today.

3:15 PM – First Danville police officer arrives.

Doors open. Not enough chairs but it doesn’t matter since we’ll be booted out for the closed session.


The seats are filling up as more chairs are brought out.

3:30 PM – Showtime. 6 of 7 members here now. George Wilson out of town, will participate via speakerphone.


The meeting starts.


The clerk of the board tries to call George Wilson as Ed Newsome’s attorney (Glenn Berger) looks on.


Chairman Ed Polhamus tries to talk to Speakerphone George Wilson. It worked just about as badly as you thought it would.

No public comment period.

Whatever action is taken will happen at the 6 PM work meeting. Speakerphone George Wilson is not understanding what is going on and asking questions.

Meeting goes to closed session. We’ll be back around 5:30 PM with more coverage.

Ed Newsome confers with his attorney as we head out. Yes, his attorney.

Change in our SouthsideCentral coverage plans… We’ll be covering this school board meeting instead of the Danville United meeting tonight.

6:00 PM – Ready to restart in the work session. Superintendent Newsome not at the table. Everybody else is.
Public comment section was added to the agenda. That will be before any vote on Newsome.

Sherman Saunders and Alonzo Jones are here from city council.

Greg Hairston, Danville NAACP head, speaks in favor of Newsome.


Greg Hairston speaks.

6:15 PM – Carrie Ashe makes her remarks and amazingly looks at the audience when she’s making her points. She knows how to do public speaking.

All school board members are paying close attention to the speakers.

Chairman Ed Polhamus does a nice Lightning Round to speed through the comments and that’s all. That’s a smart move to only get two speakers out of a crowd of 100.

Something’s not feeling right if Newsome is going to be fired tonight. He’s introducing new employees from the audience.

Cheryl Bryant has left the meeting but left her computer on the table.

The work session continues with budget discussions.


The audience is about as bored as I am.

Newsome is smiling and not looking like someone who’s getting fired tonight.

Sad to say that there’s little white presence in the audience. Greg Hairston from the NAACP already played the race card, saying if Newsome was fired to expect outrage from the black community. (Added:  Yes, I call it a race card playing because he’s restricting his predicted outrage to a specific group denoted by race. They’d be more that black outrage if Newsome was canned.)

6:45 PM – Grant application recaps and the board starts to doze off. Ha!

Ok, a school board work session is way more boring than watching proverbial paint dry.

7:10 PM – You haven’t missed anything. More presentations.
One interesting thing on discipline changes. Riding on a school bus is a privilege, not a right.

7:20 PM – Ah ha! I’ve figured this out. After all of these reports, there’s a closed session. If they’re going to give him the boot, it happens then. Then they go back to open session and make it official.

Cheryl Bryant has returned.

7:50 PM – Closed session starts and we’re all kicked out. We’re having some technical difficulties. Doing the best we can.

Ironically, Danville United is meeting now about ten blocks away.

8:40 PM – Closed meeting continues.

9:00 PM – And continues.

9:10 PM – Closed session in over. Showtime.

Very surprisingly, we get no vote on any action from the closed session. Newsome survives. What happened here?

We’re going to do a full analysis on this bizarre day. We hope to have it written by noon on Friday.

Thanks for reading and staying with SouthsideCentral all day. We gave you something that no other local media could ever do, and we’re grateful for your readership!

46 comments to Danville School Board LIVE! – (6/19/2014)

  • observer

    Geez, this sounds interesting. Ed needing as attorney.

  • T

    voting via speaker phone…that’s new to me

  • N ray

    Send him packing

  • Where are all of these parents/educators when the crap hit the fan? From pictures posted, this is turning into a racial issue. State the facts and only the facts: Lack of leadership, accountability, responsibility……… just keep adding to the list.

  • Jeff

    Hiding behind race as always….

  • Trevor

    what did Dr. Newsome allegedly do wrong for the school board to come to terminating him? any ideas?

  • Bob

    What if someone said if he is not fired expect outrage from the white community …. can we ever get away from race issues?

    • Lee Smallwood

      If he had been here through the end of one contract and had demonstrably worsened the school system, I think saying as head of a legitimate community organization that there would be outrage in that community if he were retained would be legitimate.

      This was an apparent coup attempt that got thwarted. Greg Hairston’s remark was the truth and was clear from the turn out for this meeting. I don’t know if Dr. Newsome is a good superintendent or not yet. I don’t like what I saw with the new bureaucrats stuff, but that’s not reason to get rid of him. The issues at Bonner were not completely his fault — so many of those structural changes were imposed on him when he walked through the door day one. The last superintendent accelerated her retirement, and I think it is pretty apparent it was because she didn’t want to have to deal with the mess being left behind, which frankly I’m not saying I would have either if I were in her shoes.

      • Idiyah

        Now this is the MOST PROFOUND ANSWER I’VE SEEN YET.

        • Hll

          Bruce, really? Your very first comment was that you were the only Caucasian in the room (at that point) and now you find ANY mention of race distasteful? You cannot have it both ways.

      • I completely agree, Lee Smallwood. I can not imagine any person coming in to the mess Dr. Newsome inherited and cleaning it up to everyone’s satisfaction in such a short period of time. Clearly, the institutional problems in Danville Public Schools did not develop in just one year.

  • Lee Smallwood

    I think it’s offensive to suggest that Greg Hairston was playing the race card when he said what was completely obvious — that firing Newsome in this manner would lead to considerable outrage in a community he is very well qualified to speak for. He is a very reasonable and moderate voice in this community who has done more good for it than anyone likely realizes both in his former role at Legal Aid and in his ongoing roles speaking for the organizations he has been involved in for some time.

    • I find any mention of race to be distasteful.

      • Lee Smallwood

        I’m not surprised at your response, but I think you need to rethink that. Look at the room you’re in and tell me Greg Hairston was wrong. He stated a fact he was well qualified to know. He has been an asset in this community in keeping the NAACP an organization that speaks few words but speaks with great credibility when it says something. Race exists, and pretending it doesn’t at all is as wrongheaded as pretending that somebody is better or worse based on the color of their skin.

        • blackraisin

          Racial politics is for the weak-minded. This notion of collective outrage because an incompetent bureaucrat who happens to have a similar skin tone is dangerous. Racial divisiveness will only continue to exist if obsolete organizations continue to “rally the troops” every time someone who happens to be black is held accountable for being incompetent. The real outrage in the Danville community (both black and white) should be directed at Newsome, not some mythical racist boogie man. The only racial animus here is being created by the NAACP (and probably the Campbells.)

          • fireball

            Are you jealous of the Campbells because they are not the ones being targeted, but you somehow threw them in there!

          • blackraisin

            Yup. You got me. Its not about concern for our children or a genuine disgust for ignorant race-baiters that are tearing our dying community even further apart. I’m just jealous that I can’t call forth a legion of angry bodies to advocate whatever opinion I tell them at a moments notice. Jealous. Lolz.

          • Lee Smallwood

            Oh of course. The people here can’t have a legitimate interest based on their own informed opinion. In your book they’re black so they must have been told what to think. Yeah, there’s no race issue here.

          • blackraisin

            Oh, are there black people at the meeting? I wouldn’t know. What is it with YOU PEOPLE and putting words in other people’s mouths. (Hint: When I say “you people” I’m referring to government lawyers, because again no racial nexus since race is invented.) For all you know I’m black or maybe even a proud trans-Latina. I mean, who is the one assuming that all the black people there even want to save Newsome? I was referring to the obsolete NAACP which itself was referring to a collective “black community” which apparently thinks the same. Seems like pretty high attendance for a typical school board meeting.

          • Jerry

            I don’t mind race being mentioned in the context of discrimination. That’s a legitimate issue. However, Title VII offers a legal venue and remedy for racial, ethnic, or national origin discrimination.

            However, I could not care less if a group of people are angered over a non-discriminatory decision. Who really cares if these people are upset? Their skin color and “outrage” should have no impact on the decision.

            There are at least 4 reasons that any School Board would have concern about this Superintendent. 1. DPS’s student population has been dropping for 20 years. The new bureaucracy proposed was ridiculous. 2. Only a callous individual could ignore the Bonner disaster. 3. The state of alternative education. 4. The personnel exodus of some of the best, most experienced teachers in the system.

            These are legitimate reasons to fire Newsome.

      • Cindy

        I agree. Race should never be an issue. Why does it get thrown in. Job performance, or lack of, should be the only issue…whatever the color.

        • Lee Smallwood

          The point is that Newsome was left a mess and has not been given sufficient time to have any sort of fair chance. In this community where people still remember how they couldn’t use the library because of the color of their skin or how the police department hosed them in a protest and the newspaper covered it up until national attention made them cover it, this looks very wrong. Greg Hairston and the local NAACP didn’t make this a racially charged community — a bunch of ignorant white people in the past did that, and it is naive to think this is some color blind community when it is convenient for white people to see it that way.

        • Bob

          I agree. I have taught for 29 years and he is the worst leader I have ever worked for. He demands and gets mad when others disagree. He needs to let the people who know what they are doing do it!! He says things when speaking to one group and then tells others something different, or that he never said it. Communication is at the lowest level ever — decisions are made by small groups and never communicated. He might be a great speaker and have wonderful ideas, but if you have to work in the organization he leads it is hell. If you do not work in the school system you need to learn what is really going on — not just what you are being told is going on.

          • fireball

            Since you have so many ideas of how thigs should go, maybe you should run for his position and fix the mess of the school system.

  • blackraisin

    They need to sack Newsome.

  • Jeff

    A bad employee starts with those who hired them…

  • Buddy

    All of you have heard the famous cliche that emerged from the harshest days os racial quotas: “I hired you because you are [Black/White/Yellow/Green], but I’m firing you because you are incompetent.”

  • N ray

    79 teacher positions open. Is that correct? There is a problem and you are yourselves if you think Newsome is answer. He is running more away than bringing business and families in.

    • Idiyah

      Reality is that people left their positions before the man was even in place two months. Stop pointing the finger at him, and look at those directly up under him, particularly those who served under the Davis Tenure.

  • Centurian

    central office administrators had to “reapply” for their jobs. Several who opposed Newsome’s actions were let go. Board tells him not to fill 2 positions, he does it anyway. Two years and still no GW principal. Mess at Bonner that he ignores. Proposes reopening a 1923 school. 79 teacher resignations. Do I need to say more?

  • Buddy

    So, SCC, what is your summary account of what happened. Is Newsome gone or did they save him?

  • Trevor

    who are the administrators or the job titles that must reapply? why is that? after they are named . that’s insane!!

  • observer

    This kinda reminds me back so many years ago when Pittsylvania County was a mess and a new guy came to town named Jerry Webb. The good ole boy system was a mess. They didn’t know what to do because a new comer had come to town. Jerry was blamed for things the prior administration had done. I was in meeting where they were just dogging him like crazy till finally some one spoke up in his defense. Jerry did a great job but that didn’t stop people from trying to undermine what he was trying to do. He did a good job while he was here but there was still people in PCS that were angry that they didn’t get the promotions or different jobs. Well maybe they didn’t deserve them. This kind of reminds me of Ed’s Situation. Look at what he came into. Schools that had been closed. Parents upset over that. One school that had many issues. A principal that had been released from his job and a new one assigned to that school. But then that principal hold a meeting for the parents to come meet her and lo and behold hardly no parents show up. So what does that tell you. Do parents really care? Maybe Ed just needs a chance and People need to work with him . We all need to work for a solution.

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