York County School Board removes controversial right-wing board chair

YORK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — After months of contention, the York County School Board has removed its controversial right-wing board chair and appointed her longtime ally to the position.

Lynda Fairman was removed as chair in a 3-2 vote Tuesday afternoon in a special meeting at York Hall. Fairman and board member Zoran Pajevic voted no.

The motion ironically was made by now former Vice Chair Kimberly Goodwin, who, along with Pajevic, has made up the new three-member right-wing majority that was voted this past November. Goodwin said it was a hard decision for her to make.

Goodwin, who’s faced a great deal of criticism herself for past comments and actions as vice chair, would go on to be named the board’s new chair in a 4-1 vote, with Fairman the only member voting no.

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Meanwhile board member James Richardson, who’s been an outspoken critic of Fairman and the new board leadership, was named vice chair in a 3-2 vote. Pajevic joined Fairman in voting no that time.

Before the votes, Goodwin said a leadership change was needed to help the board move forward for the school district and its students.

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“Because when you break it all down. What we’re here for, is we’re here for students. “We’re here for the good of the students, we’re here to see they’re taken care of.”

This all comes after months of criticism from the board leadership under Fairman. She was accused of creating a culture of fear and intimidation for teachers and staff, a pattern of poor communication and dubious, and potentially illegal, actions as chair, including alleged retaliation tactics against Superintendent Victor Shandor.

Before Tuesday’s open special meeting, the board met for nearly an hour in closed session to discuss potential litigation from the superintendent against the board.

Fairman had no comment after Tuesday’s vote. Goodwin meanwhile said she was running to another commitment and gave a brief comment that she was ready to move forward.

She released a larger written statement that said in part “my goal is to restore trust and strengthen relationships within our community by listening to and addressing your concerns.”

“Ultimately we all share the same goal: to inspire and support student success, and if we can look forward, rather than backwards, we can do just that,” Goodwin added.

Richardson said in part: “I look forward to working closely with our new chair and to helping her grow and succeed in this role as we move forward. She has shown resilience and a willingness to address the issues and criticism facing both our board, and herself, head-on,” adding “I am committed to fostering a cooperative spirit among all board members. “We will not always agree on every topic — and that’s okay — but together, we can and will work collaboratively with families and staff to prioritize the success and well-being of our students.”

Superintendent Shandor also released a statement, saying: “I believe Mrs. Goodwin and Mr. Richardson have the best interest of our students, staff, families and community in mind. “I look forward to supporting them in their roles, reestablishing positive relationships between the board and staff, and focusing on what’s best for students.”

While this new development appears to be a shot in the arm for collegiality for the board, and its relationship with the school district and greater community, it’s still unclear just how much the change will affect policy decisions and other actions moving forward.

While Goodwin had shown a tendency to vote against Fairman on some issues in recent weeks, including to decline buying policy services as a board from the right-wing School Board Member Alliance, she could still join with Fairman to approve other controversial measures in the future . The two teamed up to create a policy review committee that critics believe will be used to push through controversial issues like book bans.

The School Board Member Alliance is also still set to lead a board retreat scheduled for Friday, May 31, which Richardson and board member Mark Shafer have said they will not attend. Goodwin is set to lead a workshop at the retreat.

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