May 29, 2017



NEWS

Bellamy resigns from teaching position in Albemarle County

Charlottesville Vice Mayor’s controversial tweets were under investigation by school board

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Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy


Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy announced his resignation from Albemarle County Public Schools Monday on his Facebook page. Bellamy recently came under fire for a series of tweets published between 2009 and 2014 that included homophobic, sexist and anti-white language.

The tweets, which included gay slurs, comments against white people, lewd slang for female genitalia and other profanities, surfaced online after local blogger Jason Kessler criticized them in a post Nov. 24.

After the tweets resurfaced, several members of the Charlottesville community called for Bellamy to leave office.

Although Bellamy has not stepped down from the Charlottesville City Council, he resigned from his position on the Virginia Board of Education Nov. 30. Governor Terry McAuliffe had appointed Bellamy to the board in March.

Bellamy previously taught computer science at Albemarle High School.

In his statement, Bellamy said he was “not going anywhere” and is “just taking the time to do something different.” He also emphasized he was not forced to resign from his position.

“I’ve spent a lot of time praying, reflecting and thinking about this community, and what has transpired here over the past few weeks,” Bellamy said. “There has been a great deal of support from both current and former colleagues, students from several different backgrounds and the Charlottesville-Albemarle community as a whole. However, I do not think that returning to the high school this year is the right thing to do for the young people at the high school.”

Bellamy said that although some students may be upset about the decision, he would continue to support them.

“I will still be at your games, I will still be at your school events, I will still be there to help you with words of encouragement and I will still be following and closely watching to ensure that you are doing everything that you can to be successful,” Bellamy said.

Albemarle County Public Schools opened an investigation into Bellamy’s tweets in late November, but the status of the investigation at the time of Bellamy’s announcement is unclear.

Bellamy had been on paid administrative leave during the course of the investigation.

“This [investigation] is considered part of Mr. Bellamy's personnel file and falls under our policy of confidentiality regarding personnel matters,” ACPS Strategic Communications Officer Phil Giaramita said in an email statement

According to Giaramita, there have been “relatively rare” instances in which an employee’s violation of the standards of conduct for computer usage led to discipline or dismissal in the past.

“All staff are advised that their social media accounts linked to their school-issued computers, are subject to review,” Giaramita said. “This generally is done on a random basis or as part of an investigation.”

Giaramita also said the school system does not routinely review the social media accounts of prospective employment candidates.

ACPS supports Bellamy’s decision and his emphasis on putting the best interests of his family and students first, according to Giaramita.

Bellamy said in his statement he plans to continue working to “bring about the change that so many hope to see in this community.”

“We need more people to work together to address the difficult issues in regards to race, education, gender equity and equality and the overall goal of respecting our fellow brother and sister,” Bellamy said. “I am doubling down on my commitment to work with whoever, wherever, however to bring solutions to these issues.”

Bellamy did not respond to a request for additional comment. 


Published January 2, 2017 in News









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