HANOVER, Va. (WRIC) – Hanover County School Board Chairman John F. Axselle III has decided to retire after nearly 30 years on the board.
Axselle, the school board’s Beaverdam District representative since 1995, announced Monday that he has opted not to seek another term after his ends on June 30.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve generations of Hanover County students and families for 28 years,” Axselle said in a statement. “It seems like only yesterday that the late Mr. Aubrey M. (Bucky) Stanley, Jr. appointed me to the School Board, and I have had the pleasure of meeting many new friends and serving with many wonderful people on the Board during this time.”
Unlike most school boards in Virginia, Hanover’s is made up of members not elected by voters but appointed by the county’s board of supervisors for staggered four-year terms.
Axselle praised the three school superintendents and staff he’s worked with during his tenure, adding that his “greatest pleasure” in his 28 years on the board was classroom visits, being with students and “watching them light up with excitement when they learned something new.”
“We are grateful for Mr. Axselle’s dedicated service to the students, families, and staff of Hanover County Public Schools for the past 28 years,” said Dr. Michael Gill, superintendent of schools, said in a statement. “His passion for education, the betterment of our students, and upholding our longstanding Tradition of Excellence is evident. On behalf of Hanover County Public Schools, we wish Mr. Axselle a joyful and restful retirement.”
Axselle faced accusations last year that he improperly shared a student’s information with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the group that helped the district review its policy regarding the treatment of LGBTQ students, using his personal email account.
Emails show Axselle reached out to ADF, which some have classified as an “anti-LGBTQ hate group,” a week before he tried to set a meeting between the board and the organization.
The Hanover County Board of Supervisors said they were reviewing the matter last September and requested records from the school board during the process.
The school board denied Axselle violated any rules in a letter to the supervisors last August, contending his messages to ADF were allowed under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and that the supervisors’ request for emails would cost nearly $13,000.
“Last fall, the Board of Supervisors took a thorough look at the serious concerns of Hanover County residents regarding possible improper handling of student education records and questionable conduct of certain School Board members,” the Hanover Board of Supervisors said in a statement Monday. “After review, the Board did not file a petition for the removal of any School Board members.”
The board of supervisors is set to hold a public hearing Wednesday on the school board nominations for the county’s Beaverdam and Henry districts.