Letters to The Editor 04-08-20

Published 1:11 am Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Outer Banks ‘invasion’ revisited


Dear editor,

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Articles in both our regional daily newspapers last week reported Outer Banks residents objecting to New Yorkers and New Jerseyites invading their homeland. This reminded me of a familiar, but somewhat time-distant, story.


Exactly this same thing happened there 150 years ago, and on a much larger (and better armed!) scale. But, I’m afraid, with little success, even back then, by the defending locals.


History-minded OBXers (and also folks here who attend the Isle of Wight County Museum’s annual Benjamin Huger birthday party) are familiar with the Battle of Roanoke Island in early February of 1862. In short, Yankee Gen. Ambrose Burnside (yes, the namesake of “sideburns” facial hair) landed on the island with several New York and New Jersey regiments to push out the North Carolinians (and Virginians) there. Confederate Gen. Henry A. Wise, commanding from his headquarters in the Nags Head Hotel, attempted to forestall this overwhelming Northern incursion but (unfortunately?) was not successful.


Hopefully, today’s stalwart Outer Bankers, learning from history so as not to repeat it, will develop a more effective defense against this second “vile Yankee invasion” as the first one was called.


Our neighbors in northeastern North Carolina should rally once more to the cause! We southeastern Virginians are with you again, at least in spirit.


Albert Burckard




Will school board ‘make it right’?


Dear editor,

State Standards of Quality (VA 22.1-18) requires Isle of Wight Schools’ Superintendent Thornton to file a compliance report along with other miscellaneous requirements each year. He’s been required to do so since 2015.

At the March IWCS board meeting, Chairperson Carr was asked by Herb De Groft to respond by April 9th’s meeting on possible filing of these annual reports with incorrect responses by Dr. Thornton. This pertains to the March 12th IWCS board meeting when De Groft cited the requirement that “all middle and high school teachers are to have one planning period per day, unencumbered of any teaching or supervisory duties,” found in VA 22.1- 253.13.2.

I understand he did this on the reasonable expectation from research that for years Dr. Thornton has made CTE teachers of Culinary Arts, Welding, etc., at Smithfield High to teach during their planning periods.

This calls into question other possible annual incorrect filings by Dr. Thornton, specifically the requirement to certify that the IWCS Board had reviewed the “acceptable internet use policy every two years” per VA 22.1-70.2, since he’s been here. This was reported in a Smithfield Times article on Sept. 5, 2018, about the parent who saw material on the school internet accessed by her child that to her was “pornography.”

Julie Grimes, Virginia Department of Education spokesperson, said that “school divisions are required by law to update its internet acceptable use policy every two years and school boards have an obligation to follow the law.” Subsequently, my Newport rep and Chair Hulick was quoted saying that “the division has been working to update a myriad of its policies, and some have a date back to the 1990s that are awaiting revision.”

This was a lame excuse then, and still is, because the Virginia School Boards Association regularly sends revisions and updates on policies for all 130-plus Virginia school divisions. Can our IWCS Board members certify to this being accomplished 100% or do we have a phony report?

IWCS Board Chair Carr is a dedicated, sincere, now retired professional educator. On Feb. 13

she said, “We, the school board, have absolutely no gain in supporting something that is dishonest. And this job is not worth putting our integrity in question. We work diligently to do our job to the best of our ability and if a mistake is made, I can honestly say we will own it, and we will make it right.”

The IWCS board is undermined if phony reports are filed regarding them. On April 9th, will the IWCS board make it right in accordance with VA 22.1-65 by holding accountable its employee, Superintendent Thornton? I’m trusting that “being held accountable” will be the result, not a coverup.


Thomas Finderson