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Carr withdraws from Carrsville District School Board race

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,” Carr read tearfully 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.”

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 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, referring to Carr’s challenger on the Nov. 2 ballot.

“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 that evening. 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.

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.”