The Henrico School Board on Thursday voted 4-1 to install Roscoe Cooper as board chairman, weeks after Micky Ogburn relinquished the seat amid controversy over an offensive Facebook post she shared.
Vice Chairwoman Marcie Shea nominated Cooper during a work session. Varina District representative Alicia Atkins, who nominated herself, cast the dissenting vote.
Atkins herself advocated for the move, citing a pattern of racially insensitive behavior from Ogburn in a statement calling for her to relinquish the leadership post. In 2016, Ogburn apologized on behalf of the school division for a video shown during class as part of Black History Month that detailed how white privilege worked. She was chair of the board then.
“I am a product of [Henrico County Public Schools], and there are times as a child, as a student in HCPS, when things were going well, and there were times of trauma for me as well,” Atkins said before nominating herself to serve as chair. “However, the staff within our buildings loved me, nurtured me.”
Cooper, pastor of Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church and the Fairfield District representative, served as chair of the board in 2020. He’s been on the board since 2015 and has also served as vice chairman.
“I just want to reaffirm our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion,” Cooper said. “From the board level, to the superintendent, to central office, to our buildings’ staff, we are committed to equity, inclusion and diversity.”
The Facebook post shared by Ogburn in March showed disdain for a decision by the children’s book author Dr. Seuss’ estate to stop publishing six books that portrayed Black and Asian people in stereotypical light.
In the form of a poem, it told “snowflakes” to “go to hell,” and said that people who didn’t like the Dr. Seuss books had a “goal” to be hateful. The post also had a picture of the famous Dr. Seuss character, the Grinch, with his middle finger up.
Ogburn initially resisted calls to step down, saying that it was not the will of the board for her to resign as chair. She did apologize for sharing the Facebook post and has insisted that she had not read the entire post before sharing it with the caption, “I love this and Dr. Seuss books.”
Before Atkins asked Ogburn to step down, Together We Will Henrico called for Ogburn’s resignation. Afterward, East End Parents United called for Ogburn’s complete resignation from the board.
Ogburn remains the Three Chopt District representative to the board.