In an amazing display of institutional protectionism, the seven-member Albemarle County School Board (ACSB) voted to prohibit conservative reformer, Jason Buyaki, from assuming a board leadership position.
At the ACSB January 12 organizational meeting, politically left-leaning member Eric Strucko—recently a champion of process and corruption reform—nominated Buyaki for chair. Establishment darling, Diantha McKeel, then nominated current board leader, Steve Koleszar, for another term.
The vote for Buyaki was 2-5, with only Buyaki and Strucko voting “yes.” “Republican” chameleons Pam Moynihan and Barbara Mouly sided with progressives Koleszar, McKeel and Ned Gallaway to seal Buyaki’s fate. The vote for Koleszar’s renewed chairmanship was a 5-2 mirror of the previous tally.
Listen to the shocking ACSB roll call votes on board leadership nominations:
For vice chair, Strucko again nominated Buyaki, while immediately thereafter Gallaway put forward McKeel. Buyaki received his own vote along with those of Mouly and Strucko. When asked for her vote on Buyaki, Moynihan paused for nearly six seconds before saying “no.” She was joined in dissent by McKeel, Koleszar, and Gallaway. The same 5-2 majority that supported Koleszar for chair subsequently elected McKeel as the ACSB vice chair.
Under Koleszar’s leadership, the Albemarle County School Board and Administration have been criticized for several high-profile bumblings: Kid Pan Alley’s student indoctrination; 111 missing laptop computers; a controversial $2 million computer software system; a “block scheduling” debacle; and a wayward athletic director, amongst other recent scandals. None of these has been satisfactorily resolved, and the public largely seems to have lost faith in the board’s ability to capably manage the Division.
Koleszar, McKeel and Gallaway’s support for institutional status quo is not surprising, as they are closely aligned with Albemarle County’s liberal education and political establishments.
Strucko, to his credit and through his votes, has shown himself to be fiercely independent—more interested in competence and transparency than in politics.
Mouly and Moynihan, however, sought Republican support in recent elections. Their unexplained votes for continuing liberal ACSB (mis)management may leave previously supportive Albemarle County Republicans scratching their heads; and the turn-votes certainly will ensure that the board’s only reliable reformers continue to play defense rather than offense in the year ahead.