Haddow-Candland Cabal Subjecting the PWCS to Legal Liability?

Over the weekend one of those poorly-considered Facebook moments, exacerbated by the subsequent actions of a School Board member, may have exposed the Prince William County School system to potentially significant legal liability. From what we’ve been able to piece together, it looks like a member of the Haddow-Candland cabal on the Prince William County School Board revealed details of closed-session discussions on an ongoing confidential personnel investigation of a School employee, Patriot High School Principal, Michael Bishop.

This is particularly sensitive personnel issue, as Mr. Bishop had named current School Board Chair Ryan Sawyers in a lawsuit Bishop filed more than a year ago (prior to Sawyers becoming School Board Chair) over a dispute involving competing baseball leagues. Bishop then went on to pose for photographs with and permit signs at his baseball league events supporting Sawyers’s Republican opponent, Tim Singstock.

What appears to have happened is that former School Board Chair Candidate, Tracy Conroy, somehow received closed-session information from one or more school board members about the confidential personnel investigation of Bishop and posted it online on Facebook.

There does not appear to be anything illegal or inappropriate about Conroy posting the information. That cannot be said, however, for whoever on the School Board gave her the information. Generally speaking, while there is no absolute legal prohibition on a participant revealing closed-session information (such information is, however, generally protected from FOIA requests), revealing confidential information about ongoing personnel investigations is a serious matter.

It appears that either Ms. Conroy or her source eventually realized this, since Conroy took down the original post and re-posted a modified version that removed her specific references to conversations with School Board members. Here is the beginning text from Conroy’s original post, as repeated by a Facebook poster whose name and photograph we have blocked out.

Conroy1

Conroy2

Conroy goes on to write:

– No Principal is perfect and this is exactly why a process is followed.
– There was not rush to vote and to notify a Principal that he is soon to be unemployed the night before graduation.
– Principal Bishop and Chairman Sawyer remain in an active lawsuit. http://wasdmz2.courts.state.va.us/CJISWeb/CaseDetail.do
– Current board members have told me that one school board representative came to the first January school board meeting with a list of people he intended to fire. Jeff Fagan and Michael Bishop were on that list. Other than the word of those who are not willing to go on record, I can not offer proof, I do however trust my sources. For now lets say this is not a fact but a rumor with legs that keeps spreading.

Principal Bishop, I don’t know enough about your performance to judge whether you should remain principal, but I hope you sue the pants of this school board. Following procedure is essential and there is no excuse for side stepping it. No one should ever be dismissed for an “alleged violation”, but the rules are different for you; you are guilty until proven innocent. My sympathy for you and your family.


This Facebook post then goes on to include a post from Principal Bishop, for which we have included the best available screenshots we’ve received.

Bishop1

Bishop2

Apparently realizing the impropriety of School Board members sharing closed-session information regarding confidential ongoing personnel investigations, Conroy removed this post and re-posted much of the same information, but leaving out references to discussions with School Board members. She also then posted the following on the closed Facebook group she administers, “Our Schools.”

Conroy3

Coles School Board Member, Willie Deutsch went on the record with InsideNova with the following:

Deutscha

He also engaged in the following exchanges with a constituent:

Deutsch1

Deutsch2

Based on the information we have we can’t speak to the merits of any actions taken or pending against Principal Bishop. There is, however, a great deal about what has happened thus far, which could spell real legal trouble for the school system, and thus the taxpayer, down the road.

A couple basic facts are important to note. Due to the baseball league lawsuit that Bishop filed against Sawyers more than a year ago, Chairman Sawyers apparently recused himself from the discussions and vote involving Principal Bishop. He was, we’re told, not even in the room. Additionally, although Tracy Conroy says in her post that “No would should ever be dismissed for an ‘alleged violation’, but the rules are different for you; you are guilty until proven innocent”, we’ve not been able to find anything that indicates Principal Bishop has, in fact, been dismissed. Bishop himself says in the Facebook post that his contract is being “held,” which we presume will be the case until the investigation is completed. Similarly, Woodbridge School Board member Loree Williams reiterates in response to the email from a constituent that Bishop “has not been dismissed.”

Serious issues now abound independent of any of Bishop’s actions that may be the subject of an investigation. How did Tracy Conroy get confidential closed-session information about an ongoing personnel investigation? Did someone on the School Board or within the system provide it to her? Is it possible for Principal Bishop to be subjected to a fair and impartial investigation with School Board member Willie Deutsch speaking out publicly on the matter before the investigation has been completed?

Principal Bishop, of course, is free to say whatever he wants about whatever he is experiencing. School officials’ comments, however, expose the school system to potentially serious legal liability, particularly when an investigation is ongoing. First, they risk prejudicing the investigation itself. It’s hard to imagine how staff conducts a fair investigation with School Board members commenting about the substance of the ongoing investigation on Facebook. Additionally, what if Principal Bishop later finds himself in litigation with the school system? What if his contract is not renewed and he has difficulty finding a job? What if his contract is renewed, but teachers or other administrators file grievances against him for actions he has taken? In every one of these instances, the leaking of confidential closed-session information to the public and the posting of the details of the ongoing investigation on Facebook are all potentially prejudicial to Principal Bishop and expose the school system and thus the taxpayer to significant legal liability.

This is a potentially very bad situation. School Board members should not be disseminating confidential information about ongoing personnel investigations, nor should government officials or employees with privileged access to the information. Doing so is acting irresponsibly with the public trust and could end up costing the taxpayers of Prince William County. Without knowing the specific facts of the allegations against Mr. Bishop, we cannot speak to whether or not procedure has been appropriately followed. We find it extremely hard to believe, however, that a School Board member revealing to Ms. Conroy confidential closed-session information on an ongoing personnel investigation is “following procedure” as Ms. Conroy calls for.

As the emails above show, Woodbridge School Board member Loree Williams has responded quite appropriately and responsibly on the matter. We would hope that other school board members follow suit. In the meantime, another formal investigation should be started. This one should focus on the propriety and sources of the dissemination of confidential information regarding an ongoing personnel investigation that could expose the school system, and thus the Prince William County taxpayer, to substantial unnecessary legal costs.

Share

20 comments on “Haddow-Candland Cabal Subjecting the PWCS to Legal Liability?

  1. -

    I don’t know anything about Bishop, but this shows how completely unsuitable for the School Board Conroy is. What responsible person would post on FB all the stuff she did and then say let’s not call it fact since no one will go on the record, but a rumor with legs. ????????? Completely irresponsible.

  2. -

    Willie Deutsch is a jack#&*%. A 5 year old knows you don’t comment on a continuing personnel investigation.

  3. -

    Is this right? Conroy wants to be chair and she is encouraging someone to “sue the pants off” the school system.

  4. -

    I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out what’s probably going on here. Black teachers and principals have probably gotten in trouble for a lot less than whatever Bishop’s done, so Williams, Raulston and Jessie are probably all for Bishop getting hosed. As a former teacher we know Wilk is already suspicious of administrators. Trenum, Satterwhite and Deutsch are all doing the bidding of Haddow to protect a openly partisan principal in the western part of the county. Race and politics all rolled into one nice ball. Sawyers is probably glad he has to excuse himself from all of it.

  5. -

    Last fall a complaint to the previous School Board about Bishop’s endorsement of Singstock was attributed to Tracy Conroy’s campaign. At least one parent complained to administration as well. School system policy prohibits political advocacy on school property and during school hours. Bishop violated the policy and now Conroy defends him? Now the Sheriff of Nottingham is spreading all kinds of garbage over this.

    Citizens complained to the new board to investigate because the old board sat on it. I was one of them.

  6. -

    There is no confidentiality in closed session, Candland tells Haddow everything that goes on in those meetings and then SoN posts about it.
    Deutsch is out of line for ramping it up as well, whether you side with Bishop or not, he’s just as guilty as the rest of them for even commenting on FB about it. None of this is helping to educate our children and it’s definitely not setting a good example of good behavior.

  7. -

    I hate to admit it, but I was originally a fan of Tracy Conroy, and believed she really was interested in doing what was “right” for kids.

    Unfortunately, her own political ambitions continue to surface as she leads her veiled hate group, Our Schools, and continues to undermine a school board.

    First, she’s recording phone calls, and now she’s encouraging a principal to sue the school system she attempted to lead. Truly disgusting.

    Anyone see the photo of her and Doctor Bishop on facebook together? Yeah… this rallying of support has nothing to do with what is right for kids, but only about helping a “friend” who helped her back during the election.

  8. -

    Our Schools used to be a useful forum for discussing issues about education. Now it’s just another Republican propaganda tool used to attack Democrat incumbents and candidates.

    I stopped going there or contributing. It’s just too partisan.

  9. -

    This is so rediculous
    I just can’t believe the lack of professionalism. Do they not understand confidential information?
    The entire cabal needs to be removed from any political position. If the associate with Haddow They have got to go. We deserve better in Prince William County.

  10. -

    I think I have a different perspective I can add here.

    I am not a Sawyers fan but I am also not blinded by hate for anyone. My son plays in Bishop’s baseball league and my best friend’s husband was on the board when their league was sued over an election.

    After all that drama settled down my friend told me something that she said was interesting.

    Apparently, under oath, Bishop admitted to spending more time on his volunteer position with the baseball league then he spent on his job as a high school principal. We are all prone to exaggeration once in a while but exaggerating under oath doesn’t seem very likely (or smart).

    So, baseball stuff aside, how can one run a a school the size of Patriot, with the attention is certainly requires, when you admit under oath that you spend more time running a non-profit youth baseball league than you do running your own high school?

    Does anyone have the transcripts from that court case?

    Let’s say a principal puts in 10 hours a day on average. This means he has to be putting in at least 11 hours a day into the youth baseball league. The only other option would be to drastically drop your school hours but I don’t think he’d want to admit that to anyone if he was doing it.

  11. -

    Bishop lobbied his PTSA to vote for Singstock in the only meeting he attended that year. Ask around. The whole PTSA board heard it.

  12. -

    I echo WildWestRiley’s sentiments. The recording of conversations and impulsive posts on her Facebook page has led Tracy from being a respected community leader to a second rate blogger. Does anyone trust her anymore?

    Why is Willie spending so much time on those blogs anyway? He’s coming across as a little boy constantly looking for mommy’s approval. He cares WAY too much about what the Our Schools crowd has to say. If he worked in a private company and divulged HR information like this, he’d be fired.

    As an aside, I’m kind of a fan of Loree Williams these days. Everything I’ve seen from her lately has been very responsive and level-headed.

  13. -

    Where is the lawyer?? Baby Willie is out of control, but he probably doesn’t know any better. Must not have covered this in home schooling.

  14. -

    Haymarket Baseball Mom,
    That’s not the only thing Bishop admitted under oath in that case. He also admitted [edited out — we’ll have to look at the transcripts], which is a violation of school regulations and its Code of Conduct. It would be interesting to know if this has been brought to the board’s attention by whoever is doing the investigating. I know someone who has the transcripts from that case and they are going to send them to the Muckraker.

  15. -

    [Editors Note: It was not a clear cut decision whether or not we should allow this comment to go up. Since after an introductory statement it simply quotes Tracy Conroy defending herself from a variety of accusations, we thought it fair and beneficial to her to do so as it gives her side of things. She does say, however, that she is not giving blogs permission to share her posts. That really doesn’t matter, in our opinion, since when you put posts up on political and policy Facebook pages, particularly when they discuss policymakers, you’re entering the sphere of political speech and your comments are fair game provided they were not obtained by hackers or by some illegal means. We’re not going to start asking for permission on things like that.

    Nevertheless, as we said in our original post on this subject, we don’t think Tracy Conroy did anything wrong, and she seems to be responding to accusations against her that come from somewhere other than our post. Assuming she did nothing illegal (and we don’t have any reason to think she did) she had every right to post the information she did about the investigation of Principal Bishop. It’s her source or sources actions we took issue with in our post. Consequently, because of where we think the inappropriate conduct lies, if we get a comment or email from Tracy Conroy asking us to take this comment down, we will do so and will not publish the comment or email requesting that we do so. That adheres to our stance regarding the right to comment on such Facebook posts, gives Tracy Conroy’s side of things as she seemed to want, and allows the comment to be taken down if she wishes — that seems fair all the way around given the nature of this issue.]


    Okay, I had to share this nonsense Conroy just posted up on her site. Let the comments begin:

    “This will be the only post that I will make to address the lies a handful of people are spreading.

    – I do not condone hatred or racism of any kind.
    – I did not receive an endorsement from Dr. Bishop of any kind.
    – I did edit my original post about the board action regarding Dr. Bishop. This was done because in my research of the last agenda closed session certification I incorrectly identified a case number and thought it was the Dr. Bishop’s case. When it was pointed out to me that the case numbers were not the same I removed the reference to the June 1st meeting. These were two separate case numbers and employees to my knowledge. I am quick to admit my errors and I do make corrections.
    – I do not have access to closed session information.
    – I did not complain to the school board that Dr. Bishop supported Tim Singstock. I am told that Harry Wiggins did and I assure you Mr. Wiggins did not represent me in anyway ever.
    – I did have a picture taken with Dr. Bishop during the campaign, as did Tim Singstock.
    – I did not share information about Tim Singstock with InsideNova. This was done by a democrat that bragged about it and Mr. Singstock’s ex-wife. There are those they want you to believe it was me. They are liars.
    – I did tape a conversation after being called a racist in a bizarre Facebook message. I also received threats afterward. I recorded to protect my family and was within my legal rights. I do have an attorney but have not taken any action.
    – This page is not a secret organization of racist, if you are a racist please leave the site.
    – This site is 5 years old. It is not a campaign page. It was not formed to take down the current school board. It was made to share information and opinions.
    – I am opposed to not following policy, state laws, and to bad process. This could have been any employee in this county and that is why I share the information. It is not for your recognition or any future goals.
    – I am not a democrat or a republican. At one time I thought I maybe able to join either of the parties but I find I relate to aspects of both and I dislike aspects of both as well. In the end I am unable to agree 100% with either.
    – I never shalt endorsement from either party. I did inquire about both parties and came to the same conclusion I do today. I am not a politician, I don’t work for a political ideology, I am an Independent.
    – My campaign is over. I don’t know that I will ever run for office again.
    – I will continue to advocate for PWCS, for transparency, fairness and truth.

    I could just as easily hide behind fake names and spread lies. I don’t. Actually it would not be easy for me, because I have integrity. I would not lower myself like these anonymous people do. They are full of hate, and I am not. I share the facts I am given. I offer my thoughts; I don’t dictate yours.

    To the person or persons with the fake personas that are taking snapshots and lying about me I don’t know that I could hold you in lower esteem.

    Anonymous blogs do not have my permission to share this post or any post on this page without my consent. I write this knowing you will not respect this statement and that you will continue to hide behind fake names because that is what cowards do. You will twist my words and comment under varies fake names about how horrible I am. I don’t know what to say to help you and I guess I will just continue to be bullied by you, but you don’t scare me. I am stronger than you, I always was and will always be.”

  16. -

    Robert F is right! Where is the lawyer? I personally think Sawyers has displayed a great deal of courage and done a great job shaking up the status quo at PWCS. He’s taking a lot of heat, but he certainly seems up to the task.
    But, what’s with the new lawyer? Why isn’t she all over Willie for breaking protocol here? And, honestly, why isn’t Sawyers all over her? She’s his hire and she is dropping the ball big time.
    As for Sobbin’ Willie, I can’t imagine sitting in a room with that guy and discussing serious legal and personnel issues. Who knows what I might say that he in turn passes on to Conroy or the press? What an incredibly selfish child he is. Boy, if there were ever a poster child for why not to home-school your kids, he’s it!

  17. -

    This is very sad. None of you can see the forest through the trees. This is a personal vendetta about little league. Which is now going to lead to more lawsuits and most likely a settlement against PWCS. I am ashamed to be a democrat in this county.

  18. -

    Willie didn’t goto public school. He might not understand confidentiality issues.

  19. -

    Muckraker, you annoy me the way you go soft on Conroy. Look at the kind of stuff she posted just on this issue. She spread a “rumor with legs” and encouraged someone to “sue the pants off” the school system. She can dish it out but can’t take it even when its just her own words. You’ve already blocked comments I’ve written on her so I’m being extra careful on this one. Print it.

    [Editors Note: You almost blew it with the “Print it” demand. You were an exclamation point away from going in the trash. Also, it’s not that we’re protecting Conry. It’s that this post is really not about Conroy]

  20. -

    We’ve now received multiple comments on Tracy Conroy, at least one of which is over the top for our normal readers and makes us suspicious. It includes unsubstantiated allegations that we haven’t heard before and makes us think they’re either plants from the likes of Reece Collins over at the Haddow-Candland cabal, or a Conroy supporter, trying to get something explosively untrue about Conroy online to generate something for them to respond self-righteously to. We’ve seen this tried before by people we believe to be associated with the Haddow-Candland cabal and we’re not going to fall for it here. Comments on Conroy on this post are now being blocked.

Comments are closed.