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Audit Finds No Evidence Chesterfield School Staff Was Bullied

Haley, Bailey and Daugherty
Board of Supervisors Chair Leslie Haley (far right), called the county's audit staff to investigate allegations of bullying between school staff and the teacher's union, the Chesterfield Education Association. Pictured are School Superintendent Merv Daugherty, School Board Chair Debbie Bailey and Board of Supervisors Chair Leslie Haley,  at a work session earlier this year. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News)

A Chesterfield County internal audit released last week found no evidence the teacher’s union bullied school staff.

The audit was called for by Board of Supervisors Chair Leslie Haley back in July after she received emails detailing allegations of online bullying of school staff by Chesterfield Education Association President Sonia Smith. 

“With respect to, and being bullying, in some sort of way, quite frankly was alarming at first. But we don’t have anything to hide,” Smith said.

At a July supervisors meeting, Haley told school Superintendent Merv Daugherty that she hoped the audit would find no evidence of bullying, but that the county owes it to school employees to look into it.

At the time, Smith was holding Facebook live discussions on whether or not schools should opt for in-person learning or be 100-percent virtual. 

Part of the audit investigation included gathering screenshots of online comments. Auditors concluded that many were from people not related to the school district or to CEA.  

Auditors also sent an anonymous survey to school staff. Out of over 4000 responses, 97-percent said they had not felt bullied by CEA members.

The audit also stated that CEA and Chesterfield County Schools are two separate organizations. And, “Current CEA leadership are not CCPS employees. CCPS is not involved in CEA social media site maintenance or administration. CEA does not have authority to represent CCPS administration nor do they make CCPS management decisions.”

The Chesterfield Education Association falls under the umbrella of the Virginia Education Association. And, the audit states that according to July 30, 2020 district payroll records, 1,325 (16.5%) of the 8,029 CCPS contracted employees are CEA members.

Smith says she feels validated by the outcome of the audit but added that since July, CEA has not held any more Facebook live discussions.