After a week’s delay because of Hurricane Florence, the Henrico County School Board held a public hearing Thursday to gather input on who should be the next Tuckahoe District representative on the board.
Following the resignation of Lisa Marshall from the Tuckahoe seat last month because of health issues, the School Board decided that it will appoint someone to serve out the remaining year of her term.
After accepting 11 applications for the seat, the board narrowed the field to three candidates: special education advocate Melissa Dart, former Douglas Freeman High School physics teacher Marcie Shea and former Lakeside Elementary School Principal Bill Pike.
Of the 20 people who spoke at Thursday’s public hearing, half showed support for Dart, who made a bid for a House of Delegates seat last year, losing to John McGuire.
“The School Board is here this afternoon to hear from you: our community and constituents,” School Board Chair Micky Ogburn said at the beginning of the hearing. “The information gathered will be vital in helping us make a decision.”
Shea had almost as many supporters present as Dart. Emily Boddy said she has worked with Shea on different committees at their church and praised her leadership ability and experience as a teacher and volunteer.
“Her commitment to serve others will prove to be an asset to our schools, students, teachers and families — and to our county,” Boddy said.
“She has a remarkable ability to listen intently, process thoroughly and then respond respectfully,” Boddy added.
Monica Hutchinson, a Dart supporter who serves on the county schools’ Special Education Advisory Committee with the candidate, said the School Board needs a representative who will promote progressive policies.
“We both share a passion for special education as we are both parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Equity and diversity is something she cares deeply about,” Hutchinson said.
One person spoke in support of Pike, noting that he has experience as a teacher and school administrator, as well as a building maintenance supervisor.
After retiring a few years ago, Pike became the director of operations at Trinity United Methodist Church.
“He earned the respect of every teacher that worked with him and the students we served. He inspired us to be better and to give everything to our students,” said Rhonda Riddick, a recently retired school librarian who worked with Pike at Hermitage High School and Lakeside Elementary.
“He’s wise, compassionate and capable,” she said.
The board was expected to make the appointment Thursday, but the action was pushed back after last week’s public hearing was postponed because of the impending tropical storm.
The board is to announce the appointment after a closed session on Oct. 4.