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WJCC School Board member says she won't step down

The Williamsburg-James City County School Board member who was asked to step down last week after her husband was charged with child pornography, said Tuesday she won’t resign.

“I am not planning on resigning; I have no reason to,” board member Sandra Young said. “I haven’t done anything wrong.” 

Young’s husband, 69-year-old Charles Young, was arrested by the FBI on Nov. 16 and charged with 10 counts of receiving child pornography after one of the couple’s children turned him in, according to records from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and Williamsburg-James City County General District Court.

When investigators searched the couple’s James City County home in August, they found more than 22,000 images of child pornography on 40 electronic devices, according to James City County Circuit Court documents and federal prosecutor Lisa McKeel.

Sandra Young was elected to the board’s Berkeley seat in November 2015. 

It isn’t clear when Sandra Young found out about her husband’s alleged collection of child pornography, but according to federal and JCC court documents, family members stumbled upon the images on multiple occasions.

She declined to comment any further Tuesday.

The adult son who alerted JCC police of the child porn, told police that he’d known about his father’s addiction for more than 20 years, according to JCC court documents.

Family members recently found some explicit images on one of Charles Young’s laptops in June 2014 when searching for pictures of their grandmother for her funeral, according to JCC court documents. The documents do not specify which family members saw the images.

The JCC court documents state that the son told investigators, “his family has tried to get his father help with his addiction to child pornography, but all attempts have been unsuccessful.” The documents do not specify which family members were involved in those interventions.

Last week, School Board chairman Jim Kelly asked Sandra Young to step down. His request was supported by a majority of the board.

Kelly, along with vice chairwoman Kyra Cook (Williamsburg), Julie Hummel (Williamsburg) and newly-elected board member Lisa Ownby (JCC-Powhatan) support her resignation. Holly Taylor (JCC-Stonehouse) initially said she did agree that Sandra Young should step down, but as of Friday said she was not sure.

James Beers (JCC-Roberts) did not support Kelly’s request for Sandra Young to step down, according to Kelly.

Beers said he didn't agree with the board asking her to resign because he thinks they should have discussed it first.

"It wasn't that I support or don't support Mrs. Young resigning," Beers said. "I didn't support the way the chair was dealing with this." Taylor could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Cook said she thinks it’s in the “best interest of the division for her to resign.”

Ownby worries about how Sandra Young’s position on the board will distract from the group’s work.

“My biggest concern is the perception of potential superintendents, that they’re stepping into a hornets nest and a fractured board, who is going to want to work for a fractured board?” said Ownby of the board’s efforts to hire a new superintendent. “The board cannot carry out our important work with this huge distraction. ... It’s a huge disservice to every student in WJCC.”

Ownby said she, along with other board members, has been receiving calls and emails from concerned community members ever since Charles Young’s arrest. People stop her while she’s out running errands to talk about it, she said. 

Kelly said people stop him on the street to talk about it as well. Incoming emails and phone calls from concerned citizens have only increased in quantity as the weeks have passed, Cook said.

Citizens have also reached out to members of the James City County Board of Supervisors, according to emails received by the Virginia Gazette using the Freedom of Information Act. In an email to county supervisor Brian Hill, supervisor Ruth Larson said she has received a large number “of phone calls from constituents that are most concerned.”

The School Board cannot remove Sandra Young from her role, Kelly said.

“The School Board has no authority whatsoever,” Kelly said. “All we can do is ask her to step down. In order to be removed, there would have to be a recall from the folks in the Berkeley District.”

That recall process involves the local circuit court, according to the Virginia Code. Someone must get a petition for her removal signed by 10 percent of the total number of votes cast for her when she was elected in November 2015. Sandra Young won with 2,301 votes, meaning 230 people would need to sign the petition.

If a petition garners enough votes, then it is up to the circuit court whether to remove her from the board, according to state law.

Sandra Young said she will attend the next School Board meeting, a work session on Dec. 13 at the Stryker Center in Williamsburg.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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