Augusta County School Board Reprimands Chair Nick Collins

Augusta County School Board Reprimands Chair Nick Collins

Nick Collins, the former chair of The Augusta County School Board, faced consequences for his outburst at a candidate forum in October. During the forum, Collins became frustrated when two individuals in the audience repeatedly interrupted him as he tried to respond to questions from a moderator. His frustration culminated in him pounding the table and exclaiming, “How about shutting up, lady.”

In response to this incident, board member Tim Simmons called for Collins to step down from his position as chair, but Collins declined to do so. Subsequently, the board held a meeting, originally intended to be closed, but later made open to the public. During the meeting, the board voted 5-1 in favor of issuing a formal reprimand for Collins’ behavior. Collins abstained from the vote, and Tim Simmons voted against it.

Nick Collins, when asked about the formal reprimand he received, explained that it signifies the board’s disappointment in his performance. However, a formal reprimand doesn’t appear to have a significant impact beyond expressing disappointment. Collins retained his position as the chair of the school board and continued to preside over the regular business meeting later that evening.

Simmons opposed the reprimand, stating that he was unaware of the details involved in a formal reprimand. He believed that some board members had already deliberated on this matter without including him in those discussions.

“I won’t support something when I have no understanding of the purpose behind it,” Simmons remarked. “I find it unfair that they are holding private discussions and leaving me out. However, that’s their choice and decision. If the board’s stance changes, I won’t respond in the same manner.”

Simmons was talking about the upcoming general election on Tuesday, where three incumbents, including Collins, are facing challengers. The three challengers appear to share similar political alignments with Simmons, which could potentially lead to significant changes in the board’s functioning.

Collins stated that he hadn’t engaged in any discussions with anyone regarding the events of Thursday night. He mentioned that the motion put forth by board member Donna Wells to formally reprimand him was not a topic he had talked about with anyone prior to the meeting.

“I had no say in their decisions,” Collins informed The News Leader. “I was unaware of what Donna was going to present.”

It remains uncertain who authored the motion or how the board arrived at the decision to pursue a reprimand.

During the special meeting, following the vote, Simmons inquired whether Collins intended to issue an apology.

“No, sir,” replied Collins. However, later in the meeting, he did acknowledge that he should have selected his words differently.

Augusta County School Board Reprimands Chair Nick Collins

John Ward, the representative from the Riverheads District, mentioned that he had viewed the video of the forum and believed that an apology was warranted, but not from Collins.

“An apology should come from those who organized the forum without setting clear boundaries to maintain control during the meeting,” Ward stated. “This responsibility falls on the Victory Worship Center and The Staunton News Leader.”

It’s important to note that The News Leader was one of the co-sponsors of the event.

Ward asserted that it was the duty of the forum’s sponsors to manage the audience, to which Simmons retorted that Ward’s remarks were inappropriate.

“You’re shifting blame,” Simmons remarked. “Mr. Collins is accountable for his own actions. This is absurd.”

Ward contended that it wasn’t absurd because “twice, Mr. Collins placed the microphone down and deferred to the moderator, and no measures were taken to rein in the situation.”

Ward’s statements were not entirely precise. After Collins raised his voice at the woman, he did indeed place his microphone down and allowed the moderator to address the situation. Furthermore, within 30 seconds of the altercation, an Augusta County Sheriff’s Deputy stepped in and successfully pacified the woman.

David Shiflett, representing the Middle River District, clarified that while he didn’t condone Collins’ actions, he believed that the woman also bore responsibility for the incident.

“It’s disheartening to see our society struggle with having a civil discourse,” Shiflett expressed. “I think the public has a certain obligation to maintain civility and enable others to express their views.”

In Short: In a recent development, the Augusta County School Board has issued a reprimand to its Chair, Nick Collins, following a contentious meeting. This action was taken due to Collins’s inflammatory remarks during the meeting, which were deemed unprofessional and disrespectful. The reprimand serves as a formal censure and a warning against further disruptive conduct by Collins. While it doesn’t have immediate legal consequences, it underscores the board’s commitment to maintaining professionalism and decorum within the school district’s leadership. Nick Collins has yet to respond publicly to the reprimand, and the incident raises questions about his future as Chair of the Augusta County School Board.