Virginia Beach School Board member removed from state working group, social media comments condemned by Sec. of Education

Posted at 8:33 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 04:45:44-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A Virginia Beach School Board member is no longer a part of a Virginia working group after comments she made were condemned by the state's Secretary of Education.

School board member Victoria Manning recently faced controversy after making comments on social media regarding Virginia Beach City Public Schools' (VBCPS) English as a second language (ESL) budget.

In a social media post, Manning stated that the city's schools cannot support the amount of ESL students. She stated in the post that most of the students came from South America.

Officials have since responded to these claims on social media, stating that the schools are not having budgeting issues.

"We have seen growth in our ESL population in the last few years. That said, we are not seeing a large increase of students from South America. We serve and welcome families from all over the world, including NATO families and refugees, amongst others," Natalie Allen, Chief Communications and Community Engagement Officer for VBCPS, said. "And no, we are not having issues budgeting for our ESL program. The School Board and administration have shown their commitment to educate all students who walk through our doors, which is why it’s been included in prior budgets and why it’s in this budget."

Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera has condemned Manning's comments and said Manning is no longer is a part of their working group.

"We wholly condemn Mrs. Manning's comments. They are completely unacceptable and are in absolute opposition to the Youngkin administration's commitment to educate and prepare every child in the Commonwealth for success in life. Victoria Manning will no longer participate in our working group," she said.

VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence, as well as the vice chair and chair of the school board have also commented on Manning's recent comments.

"I believe our core work is to educate children — all children. In VBCPS, we stand on the fundamental belief that every child who comes to us deserves to feel they belong and feel loved. Teaching and caring for our students, whoever they are, is the most sustainable part of who we are. No matter what else happens, we will continue to keep that as our core mission and we will celebrate the diversity that makes our community so vibrant and wonderful," Dr. Spence said.

"As the Chair and Vice Chair of the Virginia Beach School Board, we personally do not condone nor support our colleague's comments about our ESL program. Individual Board members do not have authority to act nor speak on behalf of the Board. Our community should rest assured we will continue to teach and embrace every child who walks through our doors."

News 3 has reached out to Manning for comment. She responded by directing us to her website.

We also asked her for her reaction to being removed from the state working group but have not yet heard back about that. We're also working to seek clarity on the exact name and scope of the group in question.