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Julia Perkins resigns

Julia Perkins has resigned from Isle of Wight County’s School Board.

School Board Chairwoman Jackie Carr read Perkins’ resignation letter into the record of the Board’s Oct. 14 meeting. Perkins herself was absent from the meeting.

“Being a teacher has been my life’s work and I am grateful for the honor of serving on the Board with you as my colleagues,” Carr read from Perkins’ letter. “I know that you will continue our important work serving the best interest of the wonderful students, families, teachers, administrators and staff for our district. I feel it is time for me to retire from being a Board member, just as it was once time for me to retire from teaching that I love so much. I look forward to spending more of my time between my home in Windsor, my grandchild’s home in Richmond and my family farm in Louisa County.”

Perkins, a retired Windsor High School teacher, has served as the Board’s Windsor District representative since 2011. She was last re-elected in 2019 and the remainder of her term extends through Dec. 31, 2023.

“We will be accepting letters of interest to fill this position,” Carr said.

She then asked anyone who resides in the county’s Windsor District interested in serving on the School Board to email a letter of interest, including qualifications and reasons for wanting to serve on the Board, to School Board Clerk Tracey Reutt. Reutt’s email address is treutt@iwcs.k12.va.us.

Opponents of Isle of Wight County Schools’ equity and inclusion initiatives began trying to oust Perkins from her School Board seat in July. Candice Vande Brake, a parent who’s repeatedly argued at recent School Board meetings that the equity push and Critical Race Theory are one and the same, started an online recall petition that month accusing Perkins of “failing her district’s children,” for not questioning and objecting to the equity programs.

Critical Race Theory — often abbreviated CRT — argues American law and institutions have perpetuated social economic and political inequalities among minority groups. Critics say the concept is divisive. School officials say there is no CRT curriculum, but critics point to the Smithfield High School library’s “Read Woke” challenge, which involves encouraging students to read social justice-themed books, as evidence to the contrary. Perkins, at the September School Board meeting, defended keeping the books available to students amid calls from county residents for increased parental oversight, or even banning the books.

The Associated Press reports a growing number of school board members nationwide have recently resigned in the wake of vitriol at meetings over 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.