Controversial Chairman of Prince William School Board Resigns

Steve Burns
WMAL.com

WOODBRIDGE – (WMAL) Ryan Sawyers, the often-controversial chairman of the Prince William County School Board, resigned on Wednesday morning, citing “personal and professional reasons” in a letter posted to his Facebook page. He did not elaborate.

At least one colleague on the board welcomed the move.

“We were all shocked, but I think it presents us an opportunity to get away from the chaos he’s caused, and focus on children and education in the county once again,” School Board member Willie Deutsch told WMAL. “Some of his aggressive tactics towards other people in the community finally caught up with him.”

Sawyers most recently made news by calling for the resignation of the School Superintendent Steve Walts. Sawyers accused Walts of downplaying the severity of a recent car accident. Walts declined to step down.

Last fall, the board voted 4-2 to censure Sawyers. He is the subject of a lawsuit from a school principal and filed a suit of his own against two men who insinuated that he had committed sexual assault. Sawyers also regularly made news for his stances on issues like standing for the pledge of allegiance. Last year, he tweeted “Attention PWCS students and staff. Your are not required to stand for the national anthem or pledge. There will be no action taken against you for choosing to not stand or participate.”

Sawyers also suspended his campaign for Congress last month, also citing “personal and professional reasons.”

Deutsch said Sawyers’ congressional campaign likely colored much of his actions on the board.

“He seemed to have a personal agenda. He was running for Congress as fast as he could after becoming Chairman,” Deutsch said. “It really drives wedges between board members and forces us to have fights that there’s really no reason for. This should let us actually be cohesive.”

Vice Chairman Lille Jessie will serve as acting chairman, according to a press release from school administration. Any county resident interested in serving as interim chair can submit a resume to the Clerk of the School Board through March 17. A new chair will be elected as part of this November’s elections.

Copyright 2018 WMAL.com. All Rights Reserved. (Photo: Prince William County School Board)

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