Can VB School Board member maintain seat after moving from district?

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side is learning more about a residency controversy in Virginia Beach.

We first told you last week how Virginia Beach School Board member Joel McDonald was forced to vacate his position because he moved out of the district.

McDonald moved out of the Rose Hall School District, but he has since moved back in, according to his attorney Kevin Martingayle.

“I don’t believe he was aware of anyone taking the position that this was a requirement that you continually live in the district. In our view, it really doesn’t matter, because there is nothing in the law that after the election that you must continue to live within the boundaries of the district.”

That is the issue, the judge must decide, and Chris Boynton, who represents the school board, thinks the law is clear.

“We think the law is clear. You must maintain your residency in the district, and if you relocate your seat is deemed vacant by operation of law, so we have a disagreement there.”

Virginia Beach Charter and State Code law could be in conflict, which needs to be decided and ruled on by the judge. 

The city charter says if you are going to run for the school board, you have to declare whether you are running for the district, or at-large. The problem is it goes on to say everyone gets elected at-large.

So the big question is: what is the requirement once you are elected? 

“In order to run for a district you have to live in the district, but after that that there is not a requirement you continue to live in the district,” Martingayle said. “You simply have to live somewhere in the city.”

Boynton disagrees with that and will argue, “the code speaks it is deemed vacant, if he has moved out of the district.”

Virginia Beach is different because even though there are individual districts, everyone in Virginia Beach votes for all the political positions.

“They believe he is disqualified, and we say he is not. We say he continues to serve because he never moved out of the school division, and he has always been answerable to all the people of Virginia Beach.”

A call to Joel McDonald was not returned.  We would have asked why he moved, and whether he thought he was still in the Rose Hall District when he did move.

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