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Keene elected Culpeper School Board chair; Desilets appointed to vacant seat
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Keene elected Culpeper School Board chair; Desilets appointed to vacant seat

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By acclamation, Stevensburg District representative Marshall Keene was elected chair of the Culpeper County School Board on Monday night.

Superintendent Tony Brads announced the decision, and handed Keene the chair’s gavel. No roll-call vote was held.

The School Board elected Anne Luckinbill, a board member for 14 years, as its vice chair.

Later, after various staff presentations and a closed session to discuss personnel matters, the School Board voted 4-2 to elect Deborah Desilets as its new Jefferson District representative.

Desilets will hold the seat vacated Dec. 31 by former School Board Chair Michelle North, filling the unexpired one-year portion of North’s term.

In October, North announced she could not effectively finish her last year because of the politicization of Culpeper public-school issues, personality conflicts among School Board members, and health concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Desilets, a mother of four, moved to Culpeper five years ago from Nokesville in western Prince William County.

She is a member of the Culpeper County Republican Committee. Her son, Joe Desilets, managed state Del. Nick Freitas’ campaign in his 7th Congressional District challenge to U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., last year.

Keene, who works for the county Sheriff’s Office, chairs the Culpeper County Republican Committee.

A human resources professional, Desilets has said she plans to run for a full term in the next School Board election.

She told the board at its last meeting that she would focus on workforce education and Culpeper’s forthcoming Career and Technical Education Center.

Board members Luckinbill and Barbee Brown voted against Desilets’ selection, saying they preferred another candidate, given her professional credentials and fresh thinking.

After the meeting, Luckinbill said that candidate was Laurel Blackmon, who holds a doctorate in educational curriculum and instruction and has worked with schools in Virginia, the District of Columbia, North Carolina and Connecticut.

After Desilets takes the oath of office in Culpeper County Circuit Court, her first School Board meeting will be on Jan. 25.

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Clint Schemmer, a journalist since 1980, has worked at papers in California, North Carolina and Virginia. He’s been a bureau chief, editorial-page editor, copy desk chief and local news editor. Now a staff writer at the Culpeper Star-Exponent.

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