Virginia Beach School Board picks Owens for Rose Hall District seat

VIRGINIA BEACH — The city’s school board voted 6-3 Tuesday night to appoint Jessica Owens to fill the Rose Hall District seat.

The vote came after the board’s previous appointee, Michael Mullins, withdrew his application after sexist and racist Facebook posts on his personal profile surfaced.

Mullins, 62, is retired as a captain after about 40 years with the Virginia Beach Fire Department. He also served as an adjunct health sciences professor at Tidewater Community College. Mullins has a bachelor’s degree in employee health and safety from National Labor College, according to the school board.

RELATED STORY: FB racist, sexist post aftermath: Virginia Beach School Board postpones Rose Hall District seat vote

Owens has been active in the community, serving as a substitute teacher for Virginia Beach City Public Schools, working with children with special needs and with children who are victims of child abuse and neglect.

She currently serves on the Virginia Child Protective Services Policy Advisory Committee.

Owens grew up in the city and attended K-12 in the school system.

Her son required special needs accommodations throughout his education at VBCPS — this has made her uniquely aware of the challenges and benefits that many of the children in the city’s schools encounter, she said in her summary of additional qualifications for the position.

Owens will serve until after November election.

The vote was postponed until Tuesday after an emergency meeting was convened last Wednesday to determine how to go forward with reappointing a new candidate.

Seko Varner and Owens were the remaining two of the three finalists for the Rose Hall District seat, which became vacant more than a month ago after a judge ruled that Joel McDonald, who served from 2013 until this spring, vacated the position when he moved out of district.

School board Chairwoman Beverly Anderson said at the beginning of the meeting as well as during the discussion before voting for the seat that the board was actively working to develop a more transparent procedure concerning future school board seat appointments.

She said members are working on developing a more transparent and more thoroughly vetting process of selecting and reviewing future candidates.

She did not elaborate.

In addition to the appointment of the Rose Hall district seat, the board also passed a motion (8-1) to use $4.9 million of reversion funds to provide all day kindergarten in all elementary schools except for three elementary schools that are currently undergoing construction.

Reversion funds are normally used for one-time purchases and not for on-going projects, said Farrell Hanzaker, the board’s chief financial officer, but City Council directed the school board to use the reversion funds to implement the kindergarten program, according to statements made by board members Victoria Manning and Beverly Anderson.

RELATED STORY:Virginia Beach Schools will ask the city for money, and it might mean a tax increase

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