The Prince William County School Board “has both the duty and the sole authority” to appoint a temporary replacement for Brentsville representative Gil Trenum, a Navy reservist preparing for a yearlong deployment to Africa, according to an “unofficial opinion” issued by the Virginia attorney general’s office this morning.
The opinion goes on to say that Trenum has already effectively given his notice to temporarily vacate his office, triggering the process to appoint his interim replacement.
“In Prince William County, the appointing authority to fill vacancies on the school board is the remaining members of the school board,” the opinion says. “Here, the school board member in question has given that notice, and thus he has now been ‘relieved from the duties of office’ commencing on the date of his deployment, and the replacement statute is in effect.”
All of that is important because Trenum’s pending deployment has sparked a politically charged dispute over who has the authority, under Virginia law, to appoint a temporary replacement when an elected official is called to active-duty military service.
At issue is whether Trenum has formally given written notice to temporarily vacate his seat and whether the school board must honor his wishes by appointing one of three Brentsville residents Trenum recommended to serve while he is out of the country.
The above picture is of a Republican press conference in support of Gil Trenum picking his temporary substitute. There is nothing bipartisan about this picture. There is just something distasteful about the infusion of party politics into the school board. Most of us would hope that the focus would be on students, not on politics.
I also find it distasteful that so many state delegates would be involved in a local issue. Where were our local county supervisors? I believe in one picture Ms. Lawson was present. I know she supports Mr. Trenum from what I have read.
Good for our school board to ask for a state ruling. That seal the deal on where ownership of the responsibility lies. Could we please get on with it? If Corey Stewart had to take a leave of absence, would he get to pick his temporary successor?
Meanwhile, I wish Mr. Trenum and his family the best of luck and a speedy return home.