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Teachers and parents push back on Rockingham County school board

Ashley Gordon-Becker speaks to the Rockingham County School Board Monday evening
Bridget Manley
Ashley Gordon-Becker speaks to the Rockingham County School Board Monday evening

Editor's note, Apr. 24 — a previous version of this story misstated Nancy Bassett's title as a teacher. It has been corrected.

Two letters, signed by hundreds of stakeholders, were presented to the Rockingham County School Board Monday night in response to several policy actions taken by the board since January. WMRA’s Bridget Manley reports.

Over 200 RCPS educators and former educators and over 500 parents of children in Rockingham County signed open letters raising multiple concerns with the decisions by the Rockingham County School Board in recent months and were read aloud during public comment at Monday night’s meeting.

The two letters followed an unprecedented op-ed published in the Daily News-Record last week, signed by multiple past RCPS school superintendents and board members, questioning the ethics of decisions made by the RCPS board, and by a letter penned by students in the system that asked board members to act in a more professional manner.

Nancy Bassett, a paraprofessional with the school district and president of the Rockingham County Education Association, presented the teacher’s letter to the board. Bassett said that school board members have used their office to push their political agendas at the expense of teachers and staff.

Bassett: "Certain school board members are manufacturing a crisis in order to push their political agenda onto a non-partisan elected office, and have shared negative and dismissive views concerning RCPS teachers."

Ashley Gordon-Becker presented the parent letter to the board.

Gordon-Becker: "The characterization of teachers as political adversaries and the dissemination of false narratives about their conduct in the classroom is unacceptable. Teachers deserve our respect and support."

The school board has made several controversial decisions since three new members were elected into office in January, including a 4-1 vote Monday night to adopt new policies on the selection of library books that commenters at the meeting called “a massive censorship policy.”

For WMRA News, I’m Bridget Manley.


Bridget Manley graduated with a degree in Mass Communications from Frostburg State University, and has spent most of her adult life working as a morning show producer and reporter for WCBC Radio in Cumberland, MD and WNAV in Annapolis, MD. She moved to Harrisonburg seven years ago and is also a reporter for The Harrisonburg Citizen. When she’s not reporting the news Bridget is the Manager of Operations for Rivercrest Farm and Event Center in Shenandoah, VA, and she also hosts a podcast that shares parenting stories called Birds In A Tree.