Prince William Co. Public Schools ‘surprised’ after school board chair resigns

WASHINGTON — Prince William County Public Schools said it was “surprised” by the resignation of its school board chair, who made the announcement on Facebook Wednesday morning.

Ryan Sawyers’ social media post said personal and professional reasons prompted his resignation. The Facebook post includes a letter addressed to Vice Chair Lillie Jessie and was published before 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Last week, Sawyers dropped out of a primary race for Congress. He has also been in a public dispute with school district Superintendent Steven Walts — even calling for Walts’ resignation.

The conflict between the Virginia county’s top education leaders involved a car wreck Walts had in a county car in August. Sawyers accused Walts of a cover-up.

“The highest paid superintendent in Virginia did not tell the school board that he received criminal charges while operating a school board-issued vehicle,” Sawyers’ wrote in a February Facebook post. “Not informing the school board that you have been charged with a crime punishable up to one year in jail is disqualifying.”

Walts responded in a public letter to the community that said Sawyers was the only member of the eight-member Prince William County School Board with concerns about how the incident was handled by the board. He called Sawyers’ accusations unfounded, misleading claims.

“I saw no need to distract the school community with details surrounding a personal traffic incident,” Walts wrote.

In his resignation announcement, Sawyers detailed accomplishments such as protecting the LGBTQ community in schools, stripping the name of a racist governor from a middle school, adding nurses to the professional pay scale and removing 30 minutes from the teacher contract day.

“I want to say thank you to everyone who took an active role helping me to fight the good fight,” he wrote.

The school board’s vice chair will replace Sawyer for now. The board is accepting applications for a chair to serve until a November special election.

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