The Prince William School Board expects to soon send a letter to the Attorney General, asking for clarification on the process of temporarily replacing the Brentsville school board who will be leaving for a Navy deployment in August.

A board straw poll taken by the board to determine whether or not to send the letter came back in the affirmative.

Sawyers, Williams (Woodbridge), Raulston (Neabsco) and Wilk (Potomac) voted “yes.” Trenum (Brentsville), Satterwhite (Gainesville) and Deutsch (Coles) voted “no.” Lillie Jessie of the Occoquan District abstained.

On June 22, three-term Brentsville School Board member Gil Trenum announced his deployment with the Navy Reserves to the Horn of Africa. He will leave before the 2016-17 school year begins and does not expect to return until the 2017-18 school year.

During the last school board meeting, Trenum told residents that he plans to keep his seat and stay in frequent contact with his constituents. Trenum said that keeping his seat is his right as a Virginia elected official being deployed by the U.S. military, according to Virginia Code 2.2-2802.

Trenum also conferred with an attorney for the Virginia General Assembly who clarified for him that he does not need to relinquish his office. However, he can choose to give notice and temporarily relinquish his office, and in such a case the school board would appoint a temporary replacement.

Trenum said that although he announced his deployment to his constituents, he made a specific point of not requesting a replacement at this time.

“I was not asking to be completely relieved of everything. I do intend to be engaged,” said Trenum, explaining that most of his work is done over email, to which he will have access.

However, since he would not physically be able to attend meetings Trenum wanted to have the board select one of three nominees he recommended to serve in his place while he is deployed.

The three people Trenum recommended are Kim Simons, Christopher Park and Shawn Brann. They are all Brentsville parents who have been involved in their communities, schools and served on Trenum’s budget committee. Simons also runs a local education blog.

Trenum feels his request is reasonable.

“I never said I get to pick the person,” Trenum said. “Here are three people I have working relationships with. I would think the board should find at least one of them acceptable.”

First off, I am so sorry that Mr. Trenum is being deployed.  This family has been through enough.

Having said that, our school board is way too political.   Just read what is being said.  I would love to do away with political parties.  I hate them.  It seems that everyone lines up either R or D and then all common sense departs.

I don’t know what the answer is.  Should the School Board have the final say?  I like Don Shaw.  Will he represent Gil Trenum?  Should the “replacement” represent Trenum or the people of Brentsville?  As a person who can’t get their school board member (Gainesville) to even answer an email, that’s an important question.

Should Mr. Trenum get to pick his substitute?  Should the supervisor of Brentsville District just choose someone like we was done before we had an elected school board?

Good for Sawyer


35 Thoughts to “School Board to seek advice from Va Attorney General”

  1. Mom

    Sorry Moon, you know I call em as I see em on both the left and the right, Sawyers is a trainwreck.

    1. I call it incident by incident. How would you replace Gil? Should the people just not be represented? I would get a legal ruling on it since there is no established precedence.

  2. Mom

    BTW, in case you haven’t noticed it is July. Are you working under a teacher contract such that your open thread won’t change until the end of August.

    1. Yes, it is July. I haVE BEEN VERY BLOG LAZY LATELY. Oooooops. I had to run out. Patience, Mon!

  3. As a Veteran, I’m hoping that the decision from the AG is that Mr. Trenum can select a proxy to sit in for him when a physical body in a seat is desired. I know he will keep up with what is going on while deployed, although, as someone who has deployed multiple times, it’ll be difficult to do so (especially for his grade and level,of responsibility).

    1. Thanks for your valuable input, Joe.

  4. Robin Hood

    Don’t blame Ryan Sawyers for this! The previous school board chairman supported highly partisan resolutions about Medicaid and Common Core to be sent to Richmond. He led the charge to put pools in a school when classrooms were what we really needed and when Justin Wilk used to publish guest editorials about improving the schools he responded with defensive denials that anything should be changed.

    1. @Robin Hood

      Apples and oranges Robin Hood…..apples and oranges. If the intent is to protect the County, I’ll accept it (some will obviously disagree), but at the end of the day, As a fellow Veteran, I’d like one of Mr. Trenum’s choices should be selected.

      As a side note, I’m sorry that Don Shaw or his family had to deal with any nonsense from those that disagreed with him throwing his hat in the ring for consideration.

      1. Confused

        @Joe George

        Shaw is a veteran too.

      2. @Confused

        The issue is not replacing a Veteran with a Veteran. The issue is IF Mr. Trenum is allowed to provide capable proxies, then the Board should choose from those.

      3. I am not sure he should be able to select a proxy, mainly because they essentially replace him.
        Frankly, I am not sure what should happen. I don’t think Mr. Trenum should be deployed. That I am sure of.

      4. Kelly_3406


        Why do you think Mr.Trenum should not be deployed?

      5. His family needs him. That family has had a tragic event in the fairly recent past.

      6. Kelly_3406


        Oh right. I remember that now. It really was a tragedy.

        If his family needs him, then he should really consider leaving the Reserves. The whole point of the Reserves is to have a trained set of people ready to deploy if needed.

      7. They may feel totally different about it than I do. I accept that.

      8. Robin Hood

        Joe, Ryan Sawyers’ critics accuse him of partisanship and my point is that it is nothing new.

        @Joe George

    2. Confused

      @Robin Hood

      Whatever happened to that passion that Justin used to exhibit. Since the Godwin mess, he seems to be afraid of his own shadow.

      1. Robin Hoosd

        Confused, it depends on what you call passion. Some of us believe that there has been too much passion over the school board and what we really need is civil discussion of policy decisions. Maybe Justin is growing wiser as he serves.


  5. Confused

    I like Shaw too, but it looks like the angry crowd wins this one –

    1. And that is a shame that he was attacked. However, I am not surprised.

  6. Scout

    I have no dog in this fight, and I salute anyone who deploys with the military in these times (or at any other time).

    The problem here seems to me to be that when an elected official, for whatever reason, can’t serve, there needs to be some clear, established rule that either the seat remains vacant until he/she returns, or that the official resigns and some special election procedures apply. I take it that there is no such provision here, and, consequently, seeking a legal ruling from the AG makes sense. The least suitable measure, it strikes me, is for the vacating official or some other person on the board to appoint a temporary successor. The seat remaining vacant until the Reservist’s return or the next scheduled election doesn’t seem like that bad or unusual an outcome. I’ve been on any number of boards where we have had temporary vacancies, although none were of elected officials.

    The other observation I have about this particular discussion is that there seem to be a number of people who are concerned about this vacancy because of left/right, liberal/conservative/ D/R perceptions. Is this really a big deal on a local school board? If so, why?

    1. Pat.Herve


      +1 Scout.

      I also am not sure what the procedure is – he should not have to resign due to deployment, but the role needs to be represented.

      How have we gotten to the point of where a local School Board position is so political, one would think it was for President. Really is the School Board that political?

      1. Scout


        Agree, Pat, that resignation shouldn’t be compelled, although if I were in a position where military obligations required my absence from an elected duty, I would resign so that the civilian office could be filled. Nonetheless, if that is not Mr. Trenum’s desire, I respect that. So the seat is vacant until he returns or the term concludes.

        As you note, however, the bigger problem is how the county school board is a partisan D/R squabble ground

      2. Part of that squabble is forever being fanned by a local “conservative” blog. It has gotten worse with the election of new people.

      3. Scout


        Agree, Pat, that resignation shouldn’t be compelled, although if I were in a position where military obligations required my absence from an elected duty, I would resign so that the civilian office could be filled. Nonetheless, if that is not Mr. Trenum’s desire, I respect that. So the seat is vacant until he returns or the term concludes.

        As you note, however, the bigger problem is how the county school board has become a partisan D/R squabble ground

    2. Scout, like you, I don’t think school board positions should be ideologically or party based and neither does the state of Virginia. I also would like to hear why.

      1. Robin Hood

        It’s the endorsement loophole. Parties may not nominate school board candidates but they can and do endorse them.


      2. Yes. The entire intent however, at the time school boards went from appointed to elected, was to remove partisanship from the process. Impossible, I agree, but the intent was to focus on kids and education.

        This group pretty much focuses on everything but. The continual attacks on school personnel, especially the superintendent, seems to have been the mission of some folks.

      3. Robin Hood

        Ever since this new school board took office it has been obvious that the Republicans want their school board back. When they were in charge they were partisan and when they went too far with it they lost their majority.

        Now we have to suffer through repetitive rants and mobs of t-shirt wearing boors sporting the color of their cause and showing the rest of us that they have no idea how to behave in a public meeting.

        They remind me of the black shirts and brown shirts that the fascist dictators led to power prior to World War II.


      4. I have been fortunately enough to avoid Kelly Center for about 5 years. What color do they wear?

        It should be pretty simple. Pay teachers more and reduce class size. Oh, and did I leave out give every child a textbook in core areas of study?

        I am a broken record on that last topic.

      5. Robin Hood

        The color changes with the issue. It was red for the Patriot Principal and Blue for Godwin.

        And, yes, it is never about education. It’s about school naming, principals and such.


      6. @Robin Hood

        Robin Hood, I must disagree with you about the Godwin issue only being about the name change, but it is due to many in that community not feeling like they were being heard. I honestly feel if they were listened to, the outcome would have been the same with less being upset about the decision.

      7. I don’t know what the outcome would have been. I don’t know that community any longer. I think kids would always opt to keep the name of their school, regardless of what it was.

        All I know is the process was horribly wrong, from beginning to end, including the behavior during the decision making.

  7. Scout

    apologies for the duplicate comment. I guess I had the morning shakes worse than usual today.

    1. @Scout, we forgive stuff like that!!!

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