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Shonn Bell update: Waynesboro School Board meeting to discuss ‘personnel matters’

shonn bell
Photo: Waynesboro Schools

Waynesboro School Board chair Debra Freeman-Belle has called a special meeting of the board for 5 p.m. Thursday to convene a closed session to discuss “personnel matters.”

It’s fair to assume that the “personnel matters” involve the April 18 announcement that the school system had hired Shonn Bell, a Waynesboro native and former NAIA All-American who had a brief career in the NFL, to be the new football coach and a security officer at Waynesboro High School.

Since that news became public knowledge, it has emerged that Bell has two criminal convictions, one for interference/resisting arrest, the second for DUI, dating back to 2009 and 2010, in addition to a rape charge in 1993 and drug charges in 2016 that were later dismissed.

AFP has confirmed the convictions and dismissals through basic online records searches.

Ryan Barber, the assistant superintendent in charge of the human resources office for Waynesboro Public Schools, defended the hire in a statement to AFP on May 3.

“As part of our employment process, searches of the FBI database, Virginia State Police database, and central registry for sex offenders are completed for all employees. Currently, the school division does not know of crimes that would constitute a legal barrier to employment,” Barber said.

The response from Barber also noted that Bell is “employed in a school division in Iowa,” a reference to Bell’s current job – according to his LinkedIn page, Bell is employed as a campus security officer at Monroe Elementary School in Davenport, Iowa.

AFP reached out to Freeman-Belle for comment on the school system’s handling of the Bell hire.

Her response:

“I have been considering the matter and consulting with relevant parties to ensure a thoughtful response and approach,” Freeman-Belle said. “As we review the concerns raised, our focus remains on both upholding due process and fairness and prioritizing the safety and well-being of our students.

“The Board is considering this matter thoughtfully and with current Board policies, legal requirements and confidentiality for personnel matters in mind,” Freeman-Belle said.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].