ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WAVY) - Monday brought confusion over the recall of Isle of Wight County School Board member Herb De Groft.
De Groft is accused of emailing what many consider to be racist jokes, and he's been under fire from those who disapprove and want him removed from office. But WAVY.com has learned about a problem with the petitions filed to recall De Groft.
State Code states the petition must have signatures totaling at least 10 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last election for De Groft's school board seat -- that's 206 signatures of registered voters in his school district.
And the recall petition is about five to 10 signatures short. However, there is nothing in the State Code that states what happens next, whether it be start from scratch, add names as you get them, or dismiss the case all together.
De Groft had no comment for WAVY.com, but his attorney Bill Nexsen said, "We are here for the judicial process. We believe in the judicial process, and we stand by the judges ruling."
The NAACP's Dottie Harris headed the effort to gather signatures for recall.
"At this point, I don't know what it means, whether we can get more signatures, or do we have to do the process all over again," said Harris. "But whatever it takes, we will do it."
Even the special prosecutor, Susan Walton, is unsure of what happens next.
"I can't talk about it at this time," she said.
Harris is trying to figure out how they came up short.
"We went over [the signatures] very carefully. We didn't pick up on them, but not having the registrar's list of people who are registered we wouldn't have known," said Harris.
It appears Harris and her supporters were basically 'flying blind' on the number of needed signatures. They did not have the official list of registered names in the district, which they could have gotten.
The special prosecutor must also decide if there's enough evidence to move forward.
De Groft supporter and Board Supervisor Al Casteen says the emails that some think are racist do not rise to the level to remove De Groft or County Supervisor Byron Bailey from office, who forwarded some of the emails De Groft sent.
"These were political emails. At the times they were sent, it was right at the height of the election activity," said Casteen.
Harris, who is the local leader of the County NAACP disagrees with that.
"I don't see these as political issues," she said. "They are racist and discriminatory."
While it's unclear how the issue will be resolved, it is clear that Judge Carl Eason will be pivotal in whatever happens. De Groft is due back in court on Sept. 5. It is unclear if signatures will be allowed to be added to the petition before then, but if they are not, it is possible the case could be dismissed.
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