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School Board censures Sawyers over emails

Prince William County School Board Chairman At-large Ryan Sawyers was censured by his Board on Wednesday.

The School Board passed this resolution put forward by Gainesville School Board Member Alyson Satterwhite.

Sawyers sued School Board Attorney Mary McGowan after she played a role in defending the School Board in another lawsuit filed against Patriot High School Principal Micheal Bishop concerning a little league baseball team.

Satterwhite and others on the board allege emails contained as evidence in Sawyers’ were privileged and confidential information only to be viewed by School Board members, appropriate only for discussion in closed meetings.

The censure alleges Sawyers, therefore, broke the School Board’s code of ethics.

Sawyers’ lawsuit against McGowan is one of two filed this year. Sawyers also is suing Prince William County Schools Superintendent Steven Walts, alleging he would not provide access to emails of his predecessor, Milton Johns.

Sawyers recused himself from the meeting before the vote. He appeared unfazed by the measure.

“Mrs. Satterwhite, you’ve called for my resignation twice. I’m not worried about this,” said Sawyers during the meeting.

Two weeks ago, with Sawyers absent from the meeting, the School Board addressed his order to remove McGowan from the dais where she sits alongside other School Board members to provide legal advice during meetings.

School Board members bucked the Chairman’s order, and McGowan on Wednesday night was seated once again alongside School Board members.

However, unlike others on the dais, she was missing her nametag. We’re told it would be back by the next meeting.

Updated

From Prince William County Republican Committee Chairman Dottie Miller: 

“Tonight’s bipartisan censure of Ryan Sawyers is a courageous move by this Democrat-controlled School Board and a historic reprimand for his reckless abuse of authority,” said Prince William County GOP Chairman Dottie Miller. “Prince William deserves a School Board Chairman that is completely focused on education and our students, but instead, Ryan Sawyers has used our children as a tool for his personal grudges and a platform for higher office. Our kids deserve better.

Miller continued, “Since Sawyers was sworn-in as chairman of the School Board in December of 2015, he has been the model of divisive leadership. Whether it be teacher intimidation, federal investigation threats, disrespect of reservist Gil Trenum and our veterans, retaliation of a Patriot High School principal, petty lawsuits, or a disregard for ethics, Chairman Sawyers has been more partisan warrior than consensus builder. Our schools face very serious issues, and Sawyers is neglecting them. This censure should be a call for our community to demand that Ryan Sawyers take his job seriously or step down immediately.”

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