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Thompson resigns from Orange School Board

In a surprise move, Orange School Board member Lou Thompson resigned Wednesday after questions were raised about his residency.

“This is clearly not something I wanted to do, but I have to resign,” Thompson said at the beginning of the School Board’s meeting.

Thompson was elected to the District 1 seat in 2010 and was unopposed in winning re-election last year.

“Someone who is an elected official reported to our commonwealth’s attorney that I was no longer living in District One and now living in the town of Orange,” he explained. “Both allegations are correct.”

He said he sought legal advice when he began his re-election campaign and was told that he needed only to own property in the district. He said that, at that time, he and his wife had not yet moved from their farm in District 1 to town.

“I suspect both of us understood that if someone complained about it that I might have to resign. That is the case, so I have to take this action now,” he said.

Thompson served as assistant press secretary and Press Office chief of staff under President Gerald Ford. He is an adjunct professor of communications at Germanna Community College and a columnist on education issues for the Orange County Review.

“I believe we have a School Board with wonderful, dedicated people,” Thompson concluded. “I only regret that I cannot be a member to share the experience to represent the children of all of Orange County. To be sure, you have not heard the last of me on education issues.”

Several of his fellow board members had emotional responses to his resignation.

“He has brought something to this board that has been fabulous—his educational background, and how he expresses himself. I have learned so much from him. I am going to miss him on this board,” Chairwoman Judy Carter said.

Vice Chairwoman Sherrie Page fought back tears as she spoke. “This is very hard,” she said. “Not only has Lou been a mentor for this board, he is a big part of the reason I am here.

“I am certainly going to miss him sitting here to the left of me. He’s taught me a lot, and been a great friend.”

Superintendent Bob Grimesey said the board will appoint Thompson’s replacement within 45 days, and seek court permission to add an election for the final three years of the term to the November ballot. He said the board would give prospective candidates until April 18 to apply.

Dan McFarland:

dmcfarland@freelancestar.com

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