School board votes in new leadership, ousts previous chairman & vice chairman, on 4-3 votes

In a surprise move Mon. night, a majority of school board members voted for new leadership.  Sandy Ellington-Graves, elected just one year ago, was elected as chairman of the school board; and long-time member Patsy Simpson was elected as vice chairman.

Both votes were by 4-3.

Deposed were chairman Allison Gant and vice chairman Tony Rose.

The night’s agenda included the board’s annual decision on who should lead the board in the coming year.

Elected to her first term on the school board in November 2020, Ellington-Graves’ election as chairman marks the first time a relatively new school board member has been elevated to board’s top post. First elected in November 2008, Simpson was reelected to a fourth term on the school board in the 2020 general election.

School board members Ryan Bowden, Ellington-Graves, Simpson, and Donna Westbrooks voted to elect Ellington-Graves as their chairman.

Voting against Ellington-Graves’ nomination were: Allison Gant, then-chairman; Tony Rose, then-vice chairman; and school board member Wayne Beam.

The voting was identical on a separate motion to elect Simpson as the school board’s vice chairman.

There were no other nominations for the chairmanship or the vice chairmanship Monday night. The terms for both offices are one year.

[Story continues below photos.]

IN: Sandy Ellington-Graves as chairman, Patsy Simpson as vice chairman

OUT: Allison Gant as chairman, Tony Rose as vice chairman

Ellington-Graves replaces Gant, who had served four consecutive one-year terms as chairman, after previously serving two years as the school board’s vice chairman.

Simpson replaces Rose as vice chairman, following his election to the post in December 2020. Rose and Simpson had previously been elected as the school board’s chairman and vice chairman, respectively, in December 2012 and December 2013.

The four prevailing members – Simpson, Ellington-Graves, and two other first-year newcomers, Ryan Bowden and Donna Westbrooks – have increasingly banded together in the past few months to outvote the old-line leadership of the board represented by Gant, Rose, and Wayne Beam.

Read the newspaper’s editorial views on the change in leadership, “Hip hip hooray to new school board leadership”: