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Franklin County School Board attorney resigns

Franklin County School Board attorney resigns

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The Franklin County School Board attorney has resigned, citing “personal reasons.”

Stephen Maddy, who has served as the school attorney for almost seven years, turned in his resignation Thursday, effective 5 p.m. that day.

“I wish the board the best,” said Maddy, reached by phone Friday. “It was a pleasure working for them. I don’t have anything bad to say.”

A partner in law firm Maddy, Nester & Froeschl, which has offices in Roanoke and Rocky Mount, Maddy was picked by the school board in 2014 to succeed Rocky Mount attorney Clyde Perdue, who had been selected for a circuit court judgeship.

Over the past two years, Maddy has been called upon by school board members to offer legal opinions on controversial topics.

“Mr. Maddy helped guide the Board through some challenging times,” wrote Franklin County School Board Chair Julie Nix in a text message. “We appreciate his service to our school system, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

In October 2019, Penny Blue, the board’s only Black member, advocated that the school system ban the Confederate flag from the dress code, starting a months-long debate. Citing case law, Maddy told the board that since the school system had no documented major disruptions related to students wearing the flag symbol, a ban would be on shaky ground. A vote to ban the flag failed on a 4-4 tie.

In June 2020, after Franklin County students took part in protests sparked by George Floyd’s murder while in Minneapolis police custody, the school board banned the Confederate flag from the dress code 6-0. In that meeting, Maddy said the recent protests would put a ban on good footing.

More recently, Maddy told the board during an Aug. 9 debate over mask mandates that leaving the wearing of masks as a matter of parent’s choice would violate state law. After a motion to impose a mask mandate as prescribed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines failed 4-4, the board unanimously passed a compromise that required masks for all students and staff but explicitly stated that no documentation would be required for those seeking exemptions.

So far this school year, more than 1,200 students have mask exemptions. Maddy’s resignation came as the school system announced that Franklin County’s high school and middle school would switch to virtual learning from Friday until Tuesday to slow the spread of COVID.

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Mike Allen is the editorial page editor for The Roanoke Times. His past beats as a Roanoke Times reporter included Botetourt County, Franklin County, courts and legal issues, and arts and culture.

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