The $22000 Shelley-Mobile

The new $22000 car that Spotsylvania County School Board member Dawn Shelley won thru a YMCA raffle raises conflict-of-interest questions. We emailed Dawn Shelley twice for comment and have not received a response. A screenshot of the email chain is below. Is it all just a coincidence that Shelly won a raffle for a brand new $22000 car?

https://spotsywire.com/2022/06/23/shelleys-car-is-a-conflict-of-interest/

There are three problems with the “coincidence argument” that Shelley supporters cannot overcome. First, Shelley received this prize from an organization that currently holds a contract with the school division. Second, the contract is up for renewal on August 1. Third, Shelley should have known better about a conflict of interest or the appearance of one. Afterall, Shelley constantly says at school board meetings that she knows the law and policy.

Here is the $22000 question. If someone gives you a $22000 brand new car, would you think of the person or organization more favorably? Could you be objective in your vote to issue or renew a contract? This is why conflict of interest laws exist. Below are relevant areas of state law. Carefully look at the definition of “gift”, “personal interest”, and what it says in 2.2-3108. A “gift” is anything of monetary value regardless of whether it’s won under the disguise of a raffle. A “personal benefit” is a financial benefit. School board members cannot have personal interests.

  • Virginia Code 2.2-3108 states that “No person elected or appointed as a member of a local school board shall have a personal interest in…….(ii) any contract with any governmental agency that is subject to the ultimate control of the school board of which he is a member”.
  • Virginia Code 2.2-3101 says that a gift “means any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value.
  • Virginia Code 2.2-3101 says that a personal interest “means a financial benefit or liability accruing to an officer or employee or to a member of his immediate family. Such interest shall exist by reason of …….(iv) ownership of real or personal property if the interest exceeds $5,000 in value….”

Shelley’s Car is a Conflict of Interest

Spotsylvania County school board member Dawn Shelley recently won a new car from a raffle sponsored by the Rappahannock area YMCA. The car is a 2022 Nissan Kicks SV valued at over $22000 MSRP.

The problem is the apparent conflict of interest. Shelley is an elected school board member that won a $22000 prize from an organization that holds a contract with the school division. Dawn Shelley, who was the school board chair in 2021, voted to approve a contract with the YMCA for childcare services in May 2021. The contract started on August 1, 2021, with option years. The next option year begins on August 1, 2022. We have included screenshots below.

The optics and timing of all of this is suspicious. Public officials such as Dawn Shelley are prohibited from accepting gifts of value because of conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest. Virginia Code 2.2-3103 states that “No officer or employee of a state or local governmental or advisory agency shall…….

  • “Offer or accept any money or other thing of value for or in consideration of the use of his public position to obtain a contract for any person or business with any governmental or advisory agency”
  • “Accept any money, loan, gift, favor, service, or business or professional opportunity that reasonably tends to influence him in the performance of his official duties.”
  • “Accept a gift from a person who has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance of the officer’s or employee’s official duties under circumstances where the timing and nature of the gift would cause a reasonable person to question the officer’s or employee’s impartiality in the matter affecting the donor.”

Shameful Shelley & Adele Respond

We asked School Board member Dawn Shelley and Free Lance Star reporter Adele Uphaus for a statement on our series of articles about both of them. Screenshots of their responses unedited are below.

https://spotsywire.com/2022/06/06/fls-source-shameful-shelley-part-1/ https://spotsywire.com/2022/06/07/shameful-shelley-adele-part-2/ https://spotsywire.com/2022/06/08/shameful-shelley-adele-part-3/

Dawn Shelley deflects from answering the questions, avoided an in-person meeting with the Spotsy Wire, and did not respond further to our inquiry. Adele Uphaus did provide a statement implying that Shelley is providing the Free Lance Star information unsolicited including Shelley’s callous emails directed at Twigg and the conservatives.

Shameful Shelley & Adele, Part 3

School Board member Dawn Shelley collaborates with Adele Uphaus and Martin Davis of the Free Lance Star. Many of the articles in the Free Lance Star cover the conservative majority (Phelps, Twigg, Gillespie, Abuismail) in a negative light while portraying the left minority (Shelley, Cole, Daniels) in a positive light.

The Free Lance Star has no incentive to cover the news in a neutral objective manner because of this collaboration. This probably explains why the conservatives do not speak to the Free Lance Star. Look at the emails below for examples of this collaboration.

In the March 17 email, Shameful Shelley offers to talk to Adele Uphaus about an upcoming agenda. In the May 12 email, Shameful Shelley asks questions like a reporter as she BCCs Davis and Uphaus. In the May 15 email, Shameful Shelley provides Uphaus and Davis a preview of an email that she will send the next day. If the newspaper is truly objective and neutral, would we really see this type of close interaction with a politician on the school board?

Shameful Shelley & Adele, Part 2

Spotsylvania County school board member Dawn Shelley has sent emails to fellow board members and blind carbon copies Adele Uphaus of the Free Lance Star. Adele Uphaus and Dawn Shelley’s collaboration avoids the FOIA process and costs. Shelley is clearly doing this for partisan political purposes to undermine the conservative majority on the school board.

A FOIA request requires a FOIA officer to review requested information. The law requires that certain information is redacted as part of the review process. If any ordinary citizen wanted these emails, they would have to go thru the FOIA process and pay.

In emails dated January 12, January 17, and January 19th, Shelley BCCs Adele Uphaus. Below is a sampling of 4 out of those 8 emails. Shameful Shelley attempts to elicit a response from Twigg. Can you blame Twigg for not responding since Shameful Shelley is keeping Adele in the loop on everything?

Shameful Shelley & Adele, Part 1

Spotsylvania County school board member Dawn Shelley, otherwise known as Shameful Shelley, has been forwarding Adele Uphaus of the Free Lance Star many of the email exchanges with school board members without a FOIA request. It is clear that Shelley is working with Adele Uphaus of the Free Lance Star to set a narrative against the conservative four members of the school board.

Shelley regularly pontificates about following board policy and code of ethics. Yet, she regularly violates all of this by using her position on the school board for partisan political purposes. Shameful Shelley is not the media representative of Spotsylvania County schools. Shelley was not tasked with contacting the media thru official school board directions. Shelley has uncoupled herself from the school board. Shameful Shelley needs to be censured with further legal consultation from VDOE and legal.

On January 6, 2022, Dawn Shelley took it upon herself to forward 11 emails directly to Adele Uphaus of the Free Lance Star. Shelley allowed the Free Lance Star to bypass the FOIA process. Below is a sampling of 6 out of those 11 emails. Shelley forwarded emails that argued against holding the January 10 school board meeting at Riverbend to Adele Uphaus. Shelley even forwarded Phelps’s out of office away message to Adele even though we see little value in that. We have seen Shelley forward Adele Uphaus over 60 emails. Seems like Shelley is doing all of this for political purposes.

Shelley Limited Public Comments

We find it ironic that supporters of Dawn Shelley are complaining about a measure to limit public comments at school board meetings. At the December 13, 2021, school board meeting, former chair Dawn Shelley did in fact limit the public comments.

Shelley did not allow any further public comment at the 12/13/2021 school board meeting because “we have work to do and we have had 2 hours of public comment”. Historically, the school board has allowed those that did not sign up to speak to speak after everyone is called. Shelley even acknowledged this in this video clip from 12/13/2021. Yet, she choose to limit public comments.

Lacking Decorum, Part 2

The lack of decorum by Dawn Shelley at the February 14 school board meeting was on full display. Below is a video clip during the discussion of committee assignments. School board members are placed on ad hoc committees at the discretion of the chair. These ad hoc committees are nothing more than a group of stakeholders discussing issues with a board member present.

Shelley asks school board member April Gillespie what her “credentials” are to serve on the Governor’s School committee. Shelley does not hold this standard with anyone else and implies Gillespie is not qualified. Shelley’s passive aggressive attack on Gillespie is disgusting. This was one of many attacks by Shameful Shelley on February 14.

Cole and Shelley Ethics Violations

Spotsylvania County school board members Nicole Cole and Dawn Shelley stood in front of a “Recall Twigg” political sign at a January 18 rally. The front page of the Free-Lance Star on January 20 showed this picture. Twigg is the current school board chair. Both Shelley and Cole are using their position on the board to engage in partisan politics by advocating for the recall of another elected official.

This is a clear violation of item 9 of school board policy BBC-R. Item 9 says “I will refrain from using the board position for personal or PARTISAN gain and avoid any conflict of interest…….”. Shelley and Cole are creating division in the community thru their ethics violations. Given the past misbehavior by Cole and Shelley, it is not coincidence that they stand next to a “Recall Twigg” sign.

Shelley The Destroyer, Part 2

Dawn Shelley’s behavior was a destructive force at the January 10 school board meeting. Here is another video clip of Shelley engaging in mental abuse. It occurs minutes after Twigg and Shelley change seats in the first hour of the meeting.

Listen to what Dawn Shelley says and how she says it. Shelley attacks Twigg’s character when she states, “and you have been on this board for how long and haven’t held a leadership position”. We are convinced that Shelley’s purpose in this meeting was to create chaos. Yet, none of the news media are willing to point out Shelley’s bullying behavior in the early moments of the meeting.

Shelley The Destroyer, Part 1

School board member Dawn Shelley destroyed the decorum at the January 10 school board meeting. Here is a clip of Shelley’s obnoxious behavior that set the tone for the rest of the night. This happens mere minutes after Twigg takes over as Chair.

Listen to Shelley’s tone of voice and rhetoric. Shelley attempts to reassume the role of chair when she interrupts Abuismail. Then she attacks Twigg’s character by saying “he needs to know what he is doing”. Shelley is deliberately creating chaos. Yet, none of the news media highlight Shelley’s behavior. As a teacher, we thought Shelley would have better rhetorical skills.

Dawn Shelley, The Dictator with a Gavel

School Board Chair Dawn Shelley’s authoritarian behavior was on full display at the December 13 school board meeting. A parent wanted to express her concerns about a serious issue with her daughter and the lack of response from the administration. Understandably the parent was emotional, but Shelley escalates the situation. The video of this moment is below.

Shelly initially behaved as an authoritarian by denying time for the parent and asking for law enforcement assistance. After Twigg spoke and Baker whispered something to Shelley, the parent was eventually allowed to speak.

The hypocrisy by Shelley is stunning. Shelley initially did not allow the parent to speak or take the time yielded by the other parent. However, Shelley permitted 2 speakers (Mo Pettway and Nicole Cole) to yield time to each other earlier during public comment. Shelley granted Nicole Cole special privileges by allowing her to speak a 2nd time. Shelley is clearly drunk on the power as she has constantly shouted, escalated situations, and belittled others during 2021.

School Board Chair Dawn Shelley’s Erratic Behavior

About a dozen of our readers sent us the following screenshot of Spotsylvania County School Board Chair Dawn Shelley’s Facebook post. The “cat lady” is a clear reference to school board member Lisa Phelps.

Thousands of children, parents, and staff are seeing firsthand the behavior of School Board Chair Dawn Shelley. This unprofessional behavior violates a code of conduct and sets a bad example for kids. Its a form of cyberbullying. She is in charge of an almost 300 million dollar school board budget and displays no control over her behavior. Surely this meets the requirements of censure or removal of the chair position immediately.

Braswell & Shelley’s School Policy Violations and the FOIA Scandal

The Spotsy Wire continues to dig into the FOIA scandal involving School Board Chair Dawn Shelley and Rich Lieberman.   We created another video to better explain the back story that we have uncovered in the last 24 hours.  This video is long because we want to ensure our readers fully understand the details on what is occurring behind the scenes in the school division.  

There is a school board policy, BG-R, that governs the interaction between the school board and administration.   This is directly relevant to the Shelley/Lieberman FOIA scandal.  The BG-R policy is a way of controlling board members in the minority.  It restricts what school board members can do.  Shelley, Grampp, and Braswell voted in favor of the BG-R policy despite repeatedly violating the policy.   Below is the timeline of events in our video.

0:00 – At the 2/25/2019 school board meeting, Baron Braswell talks about the BG-R policy governing interaction between the school administration and school board.

1:57 – On Mr. Lieberman’s 9/15 Facebook video, Lieberman divulges email exchanges between him and Ms. Phelps that occurred in February 2021.

2:23 – At the 2/25/2019 school board meeting, Braswell and Phelps discuss the process when a constituent contacts a school board member pertaining to the BG-R policy.

4:39 – At the 2/25/2019 school board meeting, Braswell discusses what happens when individuals send emails to the entire school board with the BG-R policy.  Take note of this statement – “when we allow ourselves to get too deep in the weeds, we have to recuse ourselves from the action”

6:01 – On Mr. Lieberman’s 9/15 Facebook video, Lieberman reads the email he sent to all school board members.  Per BG-R policy, the email must be addressed by the chair (Shelley) and sent to the superintendent.  Lieberman makes a hypocritical statement when he says, “we feel violated that you need to know word for word”.   This is hypocritical when Lieberman advocates transparency.

8:50 – On Mr. Lieberman’s 9/15 Facebook video, Lieberman confirms Phelps followed the BG-R policy.   Remember, BG-R policy requires school board members to refrain from involvement on matters that are addressed by the superintendent.

9:45 – On Mr. Lieberman’s 9/15 Facebook video, Lieberman confirms that he and Braswell talked extensively.  Braswell violated the BG-R policy by having extensive interaction with Mr. Lieberman.

10:00 – At the 2/25/2019 school board meeting, Grampp confirms the validity of the BG-R policy pertaining to school board member and superintendent interaction.  We suspect Lieberman would disagree. 

11:58 –At the 2/25/2019 school board meeting, Shelley confirms the validity of the BG-R policy pertaining to school board member and superintendent interaction.  We suspect Lieberman would disagree.  Shelley states “I am not the middleman……as school board members, we do not deal with day-to-day operations of school division”.  Yet with the FOIA scandal, Shelley violates the BG-R policy by getting involved in the day-to-day operations of the FOIA process.

14:30 – On Mr. Lieberman’s 9/15 Facebook video, Lieberman clearly does not understand the BG-R policy.   When an email is sent to the entire board, the chairperson (Shelley) should have forwarded onto the superintendent.

15:15 – On Mr. Lieberman’s 9/15 Facebook video, Lieberman confirms that the superintendent and Braswell purposely excluded Phelps from involvement on the matter.   Braswell is extensively involved at this point which is another violation of BG-R policy.

15:43 – At the 2/25/2019 school board meeting, Braswell states “we can’t present a perceived form of undue influence………if an employee believes that we unduly influenced a matter they were involved then there would be retribution against this board” 

18:53 – At the 2/25/2019 school board meeting, Twigg is against the limitations imposed on the school board by the BG-R policy.

20:29 – At the 3/11/2019 school board meeting, Braswell is adamant that administration staff handle administrative items.   

22:51 – Motion on floor to approve the BG-R Policy.  VOTE 5-2 in favor of BG-R Policy.   Shelley, Grampp, Braswell vote in favor of this policy that they routinely violate.

FOIAs and Ethics – Collaboration between Shelley and Lieberman

We will give a recap on the 9/13 School Board Meeting in the upcoming days.  However, there is one item that caught our attention that we want to write about now.   It speaks towards possible corruption or collusion involving school board candidate Rich Lieberman and school board Chair Dawn Shelley.   In public comment, speaker Wendy Carver stated the following:

“Last week I submitted a Freedom of Information Request.  I emailed my request to the FOIA officer listed for Spotsylvania which is Dr. Martin on Monday September 6.  I asked for specific emails for a specific time period.    I have not yet received the information I have asked for so if you can imagine my surprise when I saw a YouTube video Thursday evening from the candidate for Lee’s Hill referencing the exact information I requested just days prior. Somehow my FOIA request appears to have been sent outside official channels and again I the person who requested the information in the first place still do not have what I requested.  Please help me understand how that makes any sense”

Around the 6 hour and 6-minute mark of the 9/13 school board meeting, School board member Rabih Abuismail asks Ms Shelley about the situation expressed by Ms Carver.  Shelley admits providing FOIA information to another “private citizen”.   She is clearly referencing Lieberman.  Shelley attempts to dance around mentioning Lieberman’s name.  In Lieberman’s YouTube video from 9/8, he references email exchanges with School Board member Lisa Phelps which was the exact information requested in the FOIA. 

We will continue to dig on this story because it has broader implications with regards to ethics and possible corruption. Is it ok for a school board chair or school administration to contact a political candidate running for office and give them precise information from a FOIA request that was not properly fulfilled by the administration? Is this how Spotsylvania schools operates with FOIA requests ?

Shelley’s Authoritarian Censorship Creates Chaos at Spotsy Schools Special Meeting

The special meeting of the Spotsylvania County School Board on August 23 went into chaos after the far-left block of Shelley, Braswell, and Daniels voted against adding public comment to the agenda.  The motion to add public comment failed 3-3 with Grampp absent.  A large group of citizens attended the special meeting.   The meeting was adjourned shortly thereafter. 

At the previous emergency meeting on August 11, public comment was not originally on the agenda but a motion passed to allow public comment.  Twigg, Abuismail, and Phelps wanted public comment added to the August 23 special meeting just like the August 11 meeting.  This would allow citizens the opportunity to speak on the masks issue. Mr Abuismail stated “As elected officials, we are public servants and these guys out here pay our paychecks….we owe it to them”.

In true authoritarian manner, the school board chair Dawn Shelley was adamant about censoring the public from commenting on this hot button issue.  Both Braswell and Daniels followed Shelley’s lead. The citizens that attended the meeting were clearly upset at the censorship and authoritarian behavior of Shelley, Braswell, and Daniels.

Shelley banged her gavel and attempted to remove people from the crowd individually.   Courtland District Member Rabih Abuismail immediately reacted and said “he is a tax paying constituent; he has every right to stay in the audience.  Unbelievable. I will not stand for this.   If we are going to do this, I call to adjourn the meeting right now”.  Abuismail further added “I move to adjourn if we are going to be treating these people like this”. 

School Board Chair Dawn Shelley comments on Spotsy Wire Facebook page

Spotsylvania County School Board Chair Dawn Shelley commented on our July 26 post on the Spotsy Wire facebook page. During the July 26 school board meeting, we posted this “Shelley claims, without evidence, there are more people that want masking.” A few days later, Mrs Shelley responded to our facebook post saying “Wow…I did say I had more emails.. Lol”. After we asked Mrs Shelley to provide specific information to support her claim, she immediately deleted her post on our facebook page.

After she deleted her post, the Spotsy Wire emailed Mrs Shelley for information to support her claim. We emailed her 7 days ago. Since Mrs Shelley has not responded, we believe that the school board chair made up the claim. Here is a screen capture of Mrs Shelley responding to our facebook post.