Investigation into Prince William superintendent’s Twitter account could be over before fall

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

Prince William County School Board Chair Babur Lateef said he hopes to have some resolution to the school board’s investigation into complaints against Superintendent Steve Walts before the summer ends.

In May, Walts suspended use of his Twitter account after a complaint from a county resident regarding private messages with students, some at late hours of the night. Walts has said the account was used for official business, and has called the complaints a partisan and personal attack during his contract renewal period.

According to the agenda for a school board meeting Wednesday, July 22, a closed session will be held “regarding a legal investigation involving specific personnel.”

In an interview with InsideNoVa on Friday, Lateef would only describe the closed session as dealing with a personnel matter.

Following a decision by the Board of County Supervisors to request 18 months worth of messages, the school board hired the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth to investigate the complaints. The division then refused to release any messages, in part due to the investigation.

“At the time the report is given to the school board, the school board will make any decision regarding personnel matters in a timely fashion after we hear the final results,” Lateef said.

School division staff have said there were more than 20,000 private messages in about 2,000 conversations posted on Twitter, most between Walts and students. The school division has said it will provide messages to parents, upon request.

On May 8, Walts temporarily suspended use of his Twitter account, @SuperPWCS. With more than 31,000 followers, the account gained popularity as the first place the division would post snow day information.

The school board has delayed Walts’ annual evaluation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lateef said.

Brentsville resident Guy Morgan, who filed the complaints in March and early April, referenced direct messages from the Walts account that were sent to students as late as 11:45 p.m.

Morgan said he did not think it was appropriate for Walts to hold a position of power and to speak privately to students at all times of the day through Twitter.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

 

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