• July 09, 2024 11:31 AM | Shelly Norden (Administrator)

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    Virginia Governor Issues Executive Order to Establish Cell Phone-Free Education in K-12 Public Schools

    RICHMOND, VA— In response to growing concerns from parents, educators, and public health professionals, the Governor Glenn Youngkin has issued an Executive Order requiring the development and implementation of cell phone-free education policies in the state's K-12 public schools. This directive is an effort to address the escalating mental health crisis and declining academic performance attributed to excessive cell phone and social media usage among students.

    The Executive Order instructs the Secretary of Education, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Virginia Department of Education, and the State Health Commissioner to collaborate on creating comprehensive guidelines for cell phone-free educational environments. The initiative stresses the critical need to mitigate distractions, improve student focus, and enhance overall educational outcomes.

    Key elements of the Executive Order include:

    • Stakeholder Engagement: Conduct listening sessions and engage with parents, students, teachers, and other stakeholders to gather input on age-appropriate cell phone-free education policies.
    • Definition and Guidelines: Develop a clear definition of "cell phone-free education" and publish model implementation plans for school divisions.
    • Public Feedback: Release draft guidance on the Virginia Department of Education's website for public feedback by August 15, 2024.
    • Final Guidance: Issue final guidance by September 16, 2024, with school divisions expected to adopt policies by January 1, 2025.
    • Communication Protocols: Address protocols for parent-student communication, medical needs, and emergency situations.
    • Reporting and Data Collection: Establish a mechanism for reporting school division policies and collecting data on student outcomes.
    • Collaboration with Health Agencies: Coordinate with relevant agencies to disseminate information on the impact of cell phone usage on academic and mental health.

    Executive Order 33 comes in light of alarming statistics, including a significant rise in adolescent depression, anxiety, and suicide rates linked to social media usage. Recent studies show that students spending more than three hours a day on social media are at double the risk of poor mental health. Additionally, cell phone use during class has been shown to decrease academic performance.

    The Governor's initiative aims to foster healthier, more focused learning environments and support the well-being of Virginia's youth. This Executive Order takes effect immediately and will remain in force until amended or rescinded.

  • June 28, 2024 2:19 PM | Shelly Norden (Administrator)

    For Immediate Release:

    Friday, June 28, 2024

    After Permanently 'Canceling' SBMA on Baseless Claims, York County Government Reverses Its Decision

    The School Board Member Alliance of Virginia (SBMA) is finally vindicated from the baseless and unlawful actions taken against it by York County officials to permanently suspend the professional organization from contracting with the county in any way. 

    SBMA's Executive Director, Sherri Story, said: "After county officials went out of their way to target and disparage SBMA, presumably for political reasons, our attorneys appealed the county's actions on our behalf, pointing out all the ways they failed to follow the law and even their own local regulations for public contracting. Today, York County wisely reversed course, issuing a letter declaring "I rescind the determination that SBMA is non-responsible.""

    According to Story, "While we appreciate York County doing the right thing and reversing their unlawful action, SBMA now deserves a public apology from York County to help restore our reputation that its actions directly harmed. Agitators and news outlets have been using York's unlawful action against SBMA to impugn our character, and now York County needs to make clear to the public that it was wrong." 

    For background about SBMA: SBMA's mission is to promote high-quality school board governance training that emphasizes excellence in public education and addresses the distinctive needs of each student. To learn more about SBMA, visit www.mysbma.org.

  • June 26, 2024 3:47 PM | Shelly Norden (Administrator)

    Click HERE to watch.

  • June 26, 2024 3:45 PM | Shelly Norden (Administrator)

    Click HERE to listen to the show.

  • June 20, 2024 2:17 PM | Shelly Norden (Administrator)

    Click HERE to access the letter of appeal. . .

  • June 14, 2024 2:14 PM | Shelly Norden (Administrator)

    York County's Allegations Against SBMA Contain False and Unfounded Accusations

    The School Board Member Alliance (SBMA) firmly refutes the recent claims made by York County Purchasing Agent Janet Dudley which allege that SBMA threatened a York County school board member. These allegations are false and unsubstantiated.

    Setting the Record Straight

    Sherri Story, SBMA chairwoman, met via videoconference with York County School Board members Kim Goodwin and Lynda Fairman, both SBMA members. This meeting was to discuss the recurring agenda item concerning school board leadership.

    SBMA fully recognizes and encourages the independent judgment that school board members must exercise in their governance roles. We also support our members in following the law. Under Virginia law, the school board chair is elected at the annual organizational meeting and serves a one-year term Va. Code § 22.1-76. York County School Board’s policy also states that the Chair is selected at the annual organizational meeting (Policy BCB).

    At no time during the videoconference, nor in any interactions with Goodwin, did SBMA suggest that we would stop providing her with professional support services or withdraw our support. Any claim suggesting otherwise is flatly false. 

    York County's Unjust Actions

    It appears York County did not fully or properly apprise itself of these facts before excluding SBMA from doing business with the county. Before making this surprising, arbitrary, and unlawful decision, York County did not contact Story or Fairman, two of the three people on the videoconference, to gather the necessary information. Additionally, under York’s Procurement Policies, a determination of non-responsibility cannot be made without first having a live request for bids and receiving bids responsive to that request (York County Ordinance 23-3 § 10-3). This did not happen, making York County's decision legally deficient.

    Appealing the Decision

    SBMA will appeal York County’s decision. Our legal advisors have identified several other deficiencies in York County’s actions, which will be addressed in the appeal.

    Contact:  Shelly Norden/ SBMA Marketing Director/ snorden@mysbma.org

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