Hanover NAACP calls for school board chair to resign

The group has already asked for another representative to step down
The organization also wants a public apology from another school board member.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 5:38 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2022 at 6:05 PM EDT
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HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - The Hanover NAACP is putting more heat on the county school board.

They’ve been calling for Mechanicsville School Board Representative John Redd to issue a ‘real’ apology over some recent comments he made referring to Hanover NAACP chapter president Pat Hunter Jordan as an “Angry African American lady.”

Redd was responding to a letter the group had sent the school board criticizing its lack of diversity.

“We’re not going to tolerate the external questioning of the internal legitimacy of one of our presidents,” said NAACP State Conference President Robert Barnette.

In a show of support, Jordan was joined by several female presidents of NAACP chapters from across the state for a press conference Wednesday morning on the steps of the County Government Building where the Board of Supervisors meets.

“The school board has shown us who they are and now we surely believe them,” Jordan said.

Among the Hanover NAACP demands:

  • Apology, a real one. Redd needs to demonstrate a real understanding of why his statement was wrong
  • Mandated implicit bias & DEI training for the county board of supervisors and the school board within the next 6 months
  • The NAACP VA State Conference is pushing for an elected school board in all areas of the commonwealth where appointed school boards exist and we’re going to start right here in Hanover
  • Moving forward, we are dedicating resources to organizing the Why We Can’t-Wait Campaign to get an elected school board in the next voting cycle

Jordan says the organization wants Redd to explain why his comments were wrong. In a previous conversation, Jordan said that when pressed for an apology, Redd stated that he wasn’t aware that his comments could be taken as racist or offensive.

It’s why Jordan wants the people to have the ability to elect representatives who reflect their needs. In Hanover County, The board of supervisors gets to appoint school board members. They want that to begin with next year’s election cycle.

The organization believes that political affiliation and religion are playing too much of a role in who gets appointed to prominent county positions.

“No appointment should be made based on political agendas nor on their beliefs as a Christian here in Hanover County,” said Jordan. “This is a municipality and the government should not be run based on religion or on the fact of who you are as a person.”

The organization is also calling for the immediate resignation of school board chair John Axelle.

Jordan believes that under his leadership, the board has refused to adopt policies that would be inclusive of minority populations and LGBTQ students as it relates to the hiring of teachers of color, the teaching of black history in the division’s curriculum, or the adoption of a transgender policy as required by the state.

The chapter, along with the state NAACP are also demanding sensitivity training for the supervisors and the school board to happen within the next 6 months

“Equity and inclusion training is needed. We can see that. it’s apparent. that’s a no-brainer,” Barnette said. “We hope that they can take into consideration when appointed school board positions to come available that they include the African American community in these decisions.”

NBC12 asked the Hanover County School Board and the Board of Supervisors for comment, but neither board has responded back yet.