CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Two Jefferson County Schools employees are suspended with pay after the school system got wind of their attendance at Wednesday’s protest rally in Washington, DC.
Superintendent Dr. Bondy Shay Gibson sent a letter to the employees notifying them of the suspension and indicating that they could be terminated. The letter advised the employees to bring representation to a meeting with her which could take place as soon as tomorrow.
The letter indicated the school system had obtained video of the employees attending the event, but it did not indicate the employees had been among those storming the Capitol nor that they had been placed under arrest.
Meanwhile, Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Stolipher said yesterday the letter from the school system quote ‘punishing employees for participating in a political rally’ are in his words ‘greatly concerning for our democracy’ and indicated they amount to a violation the Constitutional rights of the employees. He wants the commission to consider their options for oversight of the Board of Education.
Another post on the Jefferson County Perspective page questioned why a schools employee who was arrested after anti-Rockwool protest that shut down US Senator Joe Manchin’s D-C office in February of 2019 was not sanctioned in the same way.
In her letter to one employee, Gibson indicated the employee had also been tagged in a social media post that had what she termed threatening and demeaning statements aimed at federal government employees.
A press release from the district stated, “Jefferson County Schools fully supports the rights of employees and students to exercise their First Amendment freedoms, including the right to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government, but Wednesday’s protests involved violence and other unlawful conduct.
The District is investigating the matter to determine if any employee engaged in any illegal activity.
Because this involves a personnel matter, the District cannot provide any additional information at this time.”