Manassas City School Board Candidate Charles Sutherland told those attending a recent school board candidates forum held by the Grace. E Metz Middle School PTA that he is not a politician and was asked to run for the school board because the Manassas City Public School system has become "essentially a welfare project."
"I will not tell you about the Emperor's new clothes because he doesn't have any," Sutherland said.
He said the incumbents running for reelection to the school board in the May 1 general election have been "talking about the same things" for more than four years and it is time to hear the truth.
"I will tell you the naked truth of what's happening in the school system," Sutherland said.
Sutherland backs up his 'welfare' statement with the following facts:
- More than half of students don't speak the "right proper English" and they are not required to do so
- Forty-one percent of students are officially regarded as having limited English proficiency
- More than 60 percent of MCPS students receive free or reduced lunches
- The school system does not currently enforce the Virginia "original birth certificate" law for student enrollment.
- Greater than 50 percent of student body is Hispanic
With more than 60 percent of the student population receiving free or reduced lunches and breakfast, Sutherland said in a recent intereview, it is time the school board looks at verifying financial need of recipients of free food.
"Many of them, their only qualification is to provide false financial information, which nobody even verifies," Sutherland said. "And the director of food services a few weeks ago proposed giving away $83,000 of free food over the summer to anyone, not just students."
He said despite this, the special education and gifted and talented programs are neglected.
The special education department is "scandalously neglected, even lacking teachers for over a year for our most disadvantaged children," Sutherland said.
"At the other extreme, in this era of politically correct deceit in which we live, supporting gifted and talented students is regarded by many as a subtle form of white racism," Sutherland said.
Despite a $101 million proposed budget and an annual cost of $14,000 per student, nearly the highest in the nation, Sutherland said test scores have declined and the high school has lost its accreditation, because of a low graduation rate.
"Money is wasted," said Sutherland, who is a retired CEO of several companies, author and father of two boys who attend Osbourn High School.
Sutherland said more than 50 percent of the student body is Hispanic and that number increases every year. He said because of this the school board is proposing more than $20 million in future debt for a new building. Still, the school system does not enforce the state's birth certificate laws and programs, he said.
Do you agree with Sutherland that the school system is operating as a welfare program? Tell us why in the comments.