City of Richmond School Board members Mamie Taylor (5th-District) and Tichi Pinkney-Epps (9th-District) have gone too far this time. Their cockamamie antics are usually just sadly amusing, hurting only themselves and those associated with them. But their latest reckless conduct is unconscionable, hurting a dedicated public servant of a caliber Taylor and Epps are incapable of comprehending.
Less than two weeks before the start of the new school year, they publicly attacked the character and professionalism of David Hudson, one of the few Allstars of Richmond Public Schools. Mr. Hudson has been an educator for 31 years and the much beloved principal at Holton Elementary School for the past 12 years.
Why have they attacked Hudson -- and why now?
It’s simple, really. And sad. This whole sorry mess is part of an ongoing campaign launched by Taylor and Epps to get even with their fellow school board members and Superintendent Bedden, whom they blame for unflattering stories about themselves in the media. (Never mind that Taylor and Epps are clearly responsible for their own actions and have only themselves to blame for any negative attention. Click on the links in the sidebar to read some of the publicity they have generated during their tenures on the Richmond School Board.)
But threatening to "whup the ass" of another school board member, leaking confidential student files to third-party vendors, spending thousands of tax dollars on junkets to fly to unnecessary conferences and stay in five-star hotels, testifying under oath in direct contradiction of the observations of eyewitness Richmond police officers, and wasting judicial resources by absurdly seeking a permanent protective order against a school board member, was all just a warm-up for trying to assassinate the character of David Hudson. Reaching a new low, even for local public officials, this duo breached rules of confidentiality, disclosing personnel information and closed session details to conspiracy theorist Kandise Lucas and convicted felon, disbarred attorney and former City Councilman Sa’ad El-Amin. El-Amin, whose several crimes resulted in his being banned from ever appearing in court on behalf of a client, is supposedly filing a complaint with the EEOC on behalf of former Assistant Principal Fernando Lightfoot—a complaint containing unfounded allegations of sexual harassment that Lightfoot somehow forgot to bring up in the 9-page, single-spaced defense he submitted to Dr. Bedden when threatened with termination for alleged incompetence.
An independent investigation conducted by an outside law firm completely exonerated Hudson and found not a shred of evidence to support Lightfoot’s allegations of harassment. But facts -- or a lack of them -- are no impediment for Taylor, Epps, El-Amin and Lucas. For them, the absence of factual support was apparently an invitation to spread Lightfoot’s baseless allegations as widely as possible and to accuse Bedden and Board members Jeff Bourne, Kim B. Gray and Glen Sturtevant, all of whom have had children at Holton, of engaging in a massive “cover-up.”
At a time when all citizens and all school board members ought to be focused on doing their utmost to raise the academic achievement of Richmond’s public school students, how can Taylor and Epps fail to see that their antics embarrass not only themselves, but the board, the schools they have been elected to oversee and the children in those schools?
As expressed by one parent new to the system, who, fearful of mean-spirited retaliation, asked for anonymity: “It is heartbreaking to me as an RPS parent to see this type of revenge politics. The people seeking to vilify Hudson have done so with complete disregard for the families at Holton. Orchestrating a media circus just days before school starts speaks volumes about their priorities: ‘We the People’ are clearly not one of them.”
Rashida Mitchell, a parent, former PTA President of three years, and PTA board member for 7 years, wasn’t afraid to speak out:
“I have witnessed in Mr. Hudson nothing but professionalism, transparency, dedication, honesty, accessibility, concern, support, stability, positivity, community involvement, an unyielding willingness to promote Holton and its students, and unwavering support of every parent and child who walks through the Holton doors. Mr. Hudson IS Holton.
“As PTA President, I was very fortunate to have had Mr. Hudson by my side. Our membership continued to grow every year, not simply by our push for members but because parents support Holton and everything it stands for. The first person to pay for their PTA membership, every school year, is Mr. Hudson. He leads by example and encourages parents and staff to join the PTA with him. And, not only did Mr. Hudson attend every board and general PTA membership meeting, but he attended and helped to support every school event, no matter the time or energy needed. Dedication is Mr. Hudson's middle name - and that is what makes him so special to the Holton family.”