Accomack school board member: ‘School lunches are terrible’

Accomack County Public Schools

BY TED SHOCKLEY, Eastern Shore Post —

Some members of the Accomack County School Board wanted to ask questions of Brandyn Burkholder, the county’s supervisor of food services, during a meeting on Tuesday, March 19.

But Superintendent Rhonda Hall declined to make Burkholder available, saying policy dictated employees appearing before the board should know beforehand the topic school board members seek to discuss.

“We have never summoned someone to come and stand before this board and be questioned like they’re at a court of law,” Hall said during the meeting.

Further, Hall said Burkholder had already addressed the school board at a recent meeting.

Jason Weippert, the school board member who requested Burkholder’s presence, said being questioned about a job was part of the job.

“That’s why he gets paid what he’s paid,” said Weippert of Burkholder.

The scene was a microcosm of the wobbly relationships and recurring disagreements since January among members of the school board and the superintendent.

The school board got three new members and a new chair in January and the superintendent was hired last year.

Weippert was blunt about why he wanted to speak to Burkholder.

“The food service sucks, pretty much,” Weippert said, adding, “school lunches are terrible.”

“Everybody has the right to have questions,” he said.

Weippert’s disappointment in Burkholder’s absence was shared by school board member Edward Taylor.

“I don’t appreciate that,” Taylor said, referencing Hall’s decision not to make the food service supervisor available for questions.

Hall said it “was unnerving” for Burkholder to be asked to come back to the school board and answer questions without knowing the topic.

“Brandyn’s having a really hard time in the cafeterias,” said Hall, who cited a back-and-forth email string on the issue.

Hall said being questioned by the school board without knowing the subject is “nerve-wracking and humiliating.
It’s bad enough when they come and stand there when they know what, basically, the topic is.”

Board Chair Janet Martin Turner wondered why Hall, in her emails, “insinuated that we were going to humiliate” Burkholder.

“What makes you think that we don’t also support Brandyn?” she asked.

School board member Lisa Johnson said members have access to staff outside of meeting times to discuss issues.

However, Turner said larger group discussions are also beneficial.

Weippert and other school board members said they wanted to help Burkholder.

“I’m not here to grill him and make him feel embarrassed,” Weippert said. “He has a very important job and a very hard job.”

— School board member Stefanie Jackson is a staff writer for the Eastern Shore Post. She has no input in the Post’s coverage of Accomack County Public Schools.

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