JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — It’s a story that includes racial slurs, Christmas trees, an inappropriate yearbook picture, and a former principal who’s a convicted felon. Her supporters say she was wrongfully convicted, but the prosecutor says he had plenty to work with.
Kimberly Hollemon was convicted in November of felony embezzlement involving purchases she made on her school division credit card while she was the principal of Lafayette High School in James City County.
Hollemon and her supporters claim that her prosecution was payback. They say Hollemon reported that a Lafayette staff member used racial slurs involving Black students, and that’s what motivated school officials to report her to the police for the credit card matter.
“[The charges were brought] all because she reported that a staff member name-called a student [an ‘n-word’]. So she had to get chopped, because that was a liability,” said supporter Bernadette Lark last week at a news conference outside the headquarters of Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools.
But the commonwealth’s attorney says there was plenty of evidence to convict Hollemon of felony embezzlement: $3,400 worth over more than 40 transactions. Williamsburg/James City County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nathan Green said Monday that Hollemon used her employer’s charge card to buy decorations, furniture, a Christmas tree and other items to benefit her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.
For example, Lafayette’s school colors are blue and gold, and Green says the decorations were pink and green, the colors of AKA. Hollemon was a sorority vice president of an alumni chapter in Petersburg.
A picture of Hollemon next to another person in the Lafayette High School yearbook inflamed the controversy further. The caption asks if you’ve ever had your picture taken with a felon. A student who was formerly mentored by Hollemon called the picture outrageous.
“In circulating and publishing [the picture] about Dr. Hollemon, this is unacceptable. According to the student code of conduct, this would immediately warrant discipline,” said Elijah Coles, who also spoke at the Feb. 17 press conference.
A school division spokeswoman confirmed the picture appeared in the initial edition of the yearbook, and distribution was suspended until the picture was removed. The school then reviewed its practices for submission and approval of yearbook material.
Another picture not in the yearbook had eight young men posing in prison jumpsuits, spelling out “Hollemon” on their backs.
Hollemon was sentenced to 10 years in prison but the judge suspended all but five days. She also got ten years of probation. Her conviction is currently on appeal.