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After Questioning In-Person Classes, Chesterfield Official Bullied

Dot Heffron
Chesterfield County School Board vice chair Dot Heffron deactivated her Twitter account earlier this week after harassment following her questioning of the school system reopening. This comes barely a month after the county released an audit regarding online bullying. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News).

Chesterfield County School Board Vice Chair Dot Heffron deactivated her Twitter account earlier this week after receiving harassing comments in response to her questioning in-person learning safety.

The comments, which ranged from telling Heffron to get ready for a recall, to more vulgar ones telling her to do her job and open the schools, came barely a month after the county released an audit on alleged bullying to keep schools closed.

“You know, it was, it was pretty brutal,” Heffron said.

The Tweet people responded to featured Heffron wearing some jewelry honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with the hashtag “I dissent.” 

“I think my picture was kind of twofold,” she said. “I was also, admittedly, showing off some new jewelry that I just purchased. It was a necklace that resembles the descent collar that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is known for wearing.”

Heffron said the timing also lined up with the U.S. Senate confirmation of new Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.  

“So I feel like it was just kind of a culmination of a lot of feelings, of, you know, just wanting to express myself,” Heffron said.

The timing of her “dissent” post also came after the school district’s health committee approved sending more students back to part-time, in-person instruction -- despite state guidelines that call for a pause when cases increase.

Heffron questioned the recommendation.  

“I just didn't understand how if we have these guideposts, are we committed to them? Or are they still arbitrary? Is there still some subjectivity within these metrics?,” she asked.  “I would take the criticism better if it was, ‘why didn't you ask these questions?’ Rather than ‘why are you asking questions?’”

Heffron said she always brings pages of notes and questions to board meetings as a way to understand information being presented.

“I feel like I've been trusted to really dig into this,” she said. 

Now Heffron is pondering reactivating her Twitter account, which she started as a way to reach parents.

“How do I balance being accessible to constituents with not opening myself up to just this free for all of what felt to me like, outright bullying,” Heffron said.

In the meantime, Heffron says concerned parents can reach her through email or phone.

 

Ian M. Stewart previously was the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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