Democratic school board member Stella Pekarsky, who is running for the Virginia state legislature, is accused of using her position to target her election opponent, Julie Perry, a teacher in the school district Pekarsky oversees. Records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request indicate that Pekarsky was personally involved in discussions regarding whether to punish Perry over conservative social media posts related to her campaign.
The records show that a donor to Pekarsky sent a complaint to a high school principal objecting to Perry’s social media posts. The principal forwarded the complaint to the school board’s Assistant Superintendent Penny Gros, who then sought guidance on the matter. It appears that Pekarsky provided guidance, which led to a memo reprimanding Perry and threatening her job.
Experts argue that this conduct constitutes serious misconduct intended to influence the election. School board members are typically not involved in the discipline of specific teachers, especially not their campaign opponents. Pekarsky’s involvement in the process could be seen as an abuse of her role as a school board member.
Pekarsky acknowledged that a complaint had been filed against Perry but claimed she had recused herself from the matter. However, there is no evidence in the records to support her claim of recusal. Perry’s opponent has accused her of election interference, and a judge is reviewing the complaint to determine if it was made in bad faith or with malicious intent.
This controversy comes amid heightened scrutiny of school board actions and decisions across the United States, with education and political issues becoming increasingly intertwined.