Carr withdraws from Carrsville District School Board race

Published 2:40 pm Friday, October 15, 2021

Chairwoman Jackie Carr announced at the conclusion of the Isle of Wight County School Board’s Oct. 14 meeting that she would be withdrawing her candidacy for re-election.

“At one time deep down I truly enjoyed the hard work that came along with the School Board,” a tearful Carr read from a prepared statement. “That is no longer the case. … One thing I don’t want to be is a politician, and because politics has crept its way into our school, this seat is no longer where I want to be.”

Carr, however, has continued to solicit votes online.

“Even though I have formally withdrawn from the election, a vote for me will NOT be wasted!” Carr assured her supporters on Facebook Oct. 19. “My name is still on the ballot for the Isle of Wight County School Board Carrsville District, and if I win the popular vote, a special election will be held. This would allow us more time to work to give the citizens of Carrsville a choice and a voice.”

According to Victoria Mainwaring, Isle of Wight County’s deputy voter registrar, the ballots for the Carrsville District, which include Carr as a candidate, have already been printed. To inform voters of Carr’s withdrawal, her office will be posting notices at each polling precincts in the Carrsville District and at the Voter Registrar’s Office at Monument Circle for the benefit of early voters.

Should Carr still receive more votes than her opponent, John Collick, then despite her withdrawal she will have the option of accepting another term on the School Board or declining the seat, Mainwaring said. Since Carr’s name remains on the ballot, any vote for her “must be appropriately counted.”

Mainwaring confirmed that should Carr win the election but decline a new term, a special election would need to be held.

Over the past several months, opponents of the school system’s equity and inclusion initiatives have used the public comment period at School Board meetings to accuse IWCS leadership of bringing Critical Race Theory into the school system under the guise of equity. Critical Race Theory — which argues American law and institutions have perpetuated social, economic and political inequalities among minority groups — has become a national controversy, with a number of Republican-led states proposing to ban the teaching of the concept in K-12 schools.

While school officials have maintained there is no Critical Race Theory curriculum in Isle of Wight, critics point to Smithfield High School’s “Read Woke” challenge, which encourages students to read social justice-themed books, as evidence to the contrary. The criticism continued at the Oct. 14 meeting, just before Carr announced her withdrawal, as opponents of the “Woke” challenge read excerpts from some of the books, and others singled out Carr personally.

“Woke is anti-Christian, anti-white, anti-American … Jackie, you remind me of (former Massachusetts U.S. Sen.) John Kerry when he said I voted for it before I voted against it; you should have done your homework,” said Karlus Bailey.

“I’m voting for John Collick,” Bailey added.

Reviewing each and every book available at school libraries is not among the responsibilities of the School Board and “not my homework,” Carr countered.

“Shame on every one of you who endorses this garbage; kids deserve better!” Jason Maresh near-shouted from the lectern. “I want this man fired!” he added, pointing toward Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton.

“Ms. Carr, you might possibly be the biggest disappointment of them all because once you heard about the contents of these books, you opposed it,” added Jennifer Williams. “Then you received opposition from the rest of the board and you let it silence you. You were our only voice and now we have no one to fight this for us.”

Williams then called for the books’ removal “until an audit can be done.”

Carr, an educator for 33 years, is a former principal of Carrsville Elementary School and retired from the school system in 2014 as director of elementary education. She has served on the School Board since January 2017.

“I can’t begin to thank enough all of the supporters that have been by my side, and it literally crushes my heart to even think that I’ll be disappointing many,” Carr continued to read from her statement. “While I will complete my term through (Dec. 31) 2021, tonight I officially announce the withdrawal of my name in running for the School Board in this November election. Those who contributed to my campaign will receive your donations back.”

Carr was not the only longtime educator to resign from the School Board on Oct. 14. Julia Perkins, a retired Windsor High School teacher who’s served as the Board’s Windsor District representative since 2011, also submitted her letter of resignation, which Carr read into the record. A special election to fill Perkins’ seat will not be held until November 2022 unless the School Board petitions for an earlier date. Per state law, Perkins’ seat cannot be on the ballot for November 2021 because her resignation was within 90 days of the general election.

The Associated Press reports a growing number of school board members nationwide have recently resigned in the wake of vitriol at meetings over pandemic mitigation measures and how racial issues are taught, though the statement Carr read on Perkins’ behalf made no mention of the criticisms she’s faced at recent meetings playing a role in her decision to resign mid-term.

 

Carr’s complete statement is reproduced below:

“Serving on the School Board for almost five years has been both an honor and a privilege, and while the past 18 months have been quite challenging, I never shy away from a challenge. I have always given any job I have done 100% and at one time deep down I truly enjoyed the hard work that came along with the School Board. That’s no longer the case. And as I reflect I find that over the past few months the things that should have come first in my life I’ve allowed to take a back seat to the School Board. One thing I don’t want to be is a politician, and because politics has crept its way into our school this seat is no longer where I want to be. This past month I was very sick with COVID and I had much time to rethink my priorities. Life is short and no one is promised tomorrow. I know that quite well, as my husband passed away with absolutely no warning. I will no longer allow my faith and family to take a back seat to School Board obligations and time commitments. I have chosen to live my last days happy with my faith and my family and my health being where they need to be, my top priorities. I can’t begin to thank enough all of the supporters that have been by my side, and it literally crushes my heart to even think that I’ll be disappointing many. While I will complete my term through the 2021, tonight I officially announce the withdrawal of my name in running for the School Board in this November election. Those who contributed to my campaign will receive your donations back. I know who you are and I have your addresses. The necessary candidate withdrawal form has been submitted.”