Is the Doctor In? Not For Long…

The doctor is not in. And soon her plaque won't be either. (photo credit: RVA Report)

The doctor is not in. And soon her plaque won’t be either. (photo credit: RVA Report)

by RVA Report

If it walks like a duck and it looks like a duck, it must be a duck. And as of the next Richmond School Board meeting, the panel’s resident quack will be labeled accordingly.

The district has already ordered a new nameplate for beleaguered 6th District representative Shonda Harris-Muhammed, whose alleged doctorate degree from Walden University appears to be just that, an allegation.

The new plaque, schools officials confirm, will not include Harris-Muhammed’s apparently self-assumed honorary title.

School Board Chairman Jeff Bourne says that the new plaque, which will take its place on the riser in the school board’s 17th floor meeting room at City Hall, already has been ordered.

Much like Harris-Muhammed’s recent claim that her seat on school board is by divine ordination, the new title-less plaque now seems similarly ordained. Bourne says the change becomes official if his colleague is unable to produce documented proof of her degree by next Monday.

“Anything that’s official, I told her if you can’t show us by next Monday it’s going to change,” Bourne says.

Meanwhile, with not much paper to back her up and WTVR’s report that Walden officials have denied her claim of having completed the degree, Harris-Muhammed continues to claim the doctorate degree is hers and that the original WTVR story last week calling it into question was nothing more than a personal attack.

“Under no circumstance will God allow anyone — anyone to destroy me without his permission,” Harris-Muhammed hissed during an awkward, tearful and seemingly endless diatribe delivered during Monday night’s School Board work session.

Her words — declaring God’s hand of protection on the same day that three people died and another 170 were injured, some gravely, in Boston — may seem a bit overwrought and self-agrandizing. But perhaps not:

“God made the idiot for practice, then he made the School Board,” wrote Mark Twain, the great American author and sage. At Harris-Muhammed’s own insistence, and bolstered by Twain’s plain reckoning, perhaps it’s best not to question wither God ordained Harris-Muhammed’s place of honor among those thusly enthroned.

Goldman: High Marks for Mayor’s Son in RPS Degree Scandal

In the matter of Richmond School Board member Shonda Harris-Muhammed, her fellow School Board member Derik Jones is trying to do the right thing by speaking out.

But only the Mayor can speak for values of the City.

This is Derik’s first fire fight. The same for Schools Chairman Jeff Bourne and they need some help here to get it right. That’s the elected mayor’s job. The fact Derik is his son makes the situation more fascinating.



by Paul Goldman


Derik Jones, the mayor’s son and one of the newly elected members of the Richmond School Board, faced his first ‘gut check’ as a public official last week.

Revealed by WTVR reporter Catie Beck’s recent investigative reporting, it turns out one of the most outspoken members of the new school board, Shonda Harris-Muhammed, has been masquerading as a ‘Doctor’ when she never in fact earned her doctorate degree. In the academic world, lying about having a doctorate degree is almost always a firing offense: out the door, don’t come back no more.

However, this is Richmond.

Moreover, we are  talking about what the politicians love to talk about: Richmond Public Schools. There isn’t an elected official in Richmond who hasn’t run on a platform to fix the schools, yada, yada, yada.

They say the schools are key to making Richmond what it can be, yada, yada, yada,

The politicians will do anything to improve the schools… during the campaign.

Believe me: If you have a good sounding promise they haven’t yet made, you can easily get them to make it if you can get a TV camera to record it.

If talk was all it took to improve education, Richmond would lead the world.

In America, education is the Great Equalizer. A few people are naturally gifted, but the rest of us have got to work at it and our public education system gives us the chance to earn our chops.

Truth is, most good jobs only require a solid K-12 education with some additional stuff but you don’t need a college degree, much less a master’s degree — and hardly a doctorate.

But you do need to apply yourself at the K-12 level. You need to get a good education. 

By and large, every child in the RPS system is plenty smart enough. But at the same time, most of them — like kids everywhere — need the adults in the system to push them to be all they can be.

Meaning that anything that cheapens success, anything that glorifies skating by, anything that tells kids “the adults are just selling a wolf ticket, they just talkin’, look how they act,” is most unhelpful.

This brings us right back around to the case of Harris-Muhammed: Her actions tell the true state of educational leadership in Richmond.

That she actually believed she could claim to have earned her doctorate and get away with lying is her indictment of educational leadership in Richmond — if she does indeed get away with it.

Is resignation or removal the only viable solutions? NO. There are other solutions, in my book. But the longer this lingers, the worse for the image of Richmond education.

Derik gets that in my view. But this is his first fire fight.

So Mayor Jones needs to help out — not because Derik is his son. But because leadership is what the job often requires in these kinds of situations, someone with the political clout must step in and break the gridlock.

“Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” sang Australian metal band AC/DC. Perhaps the aging rockers are still available.

Club Sandwiches and regionalism

Wrote a piece regarding how we treat each other in the region (not well), and how we can urge our leaders to simply get a sandwich and talk.{%2210200660689946987%22%3A299370226859697}&action_type_map={%2210200660689946987%22%3A%22og.likes%22}&action_ref_map=[]

History, Revised


Ours is a city of contradictions. Just ask Karen Cooper. Cooper, who is black, is a member of the Virginia Flaggers, a group protesting the removal of the Confederate battle flag, a banner often associated with white supremacy, from in front of the Confederate Chapel at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Karen Cooper and Cliff Troutman fly the flag proudly as part of a two-year protest in front of the VMFA

Karen Cooper and Cliff Troutman fly the flag proudly as part of a two-year protest in front of the VMFA

The Flaggers group has maintained sentry on the Boulevard in front of the VMFA for two years now, in an ongoing flag-flying vigil to protest the museum’s decision to remove the flag. The chapel, located on the VMFA’s campus has instead flown a U.S. flag since the decision by museum officials to remove the stars and bars.

“We’re here twice a week,” says Jimmy Creek, one member of the Virginia Flaggers, a presence that has elicited honks and waves both of support and anger for the past 76 weeks.

“We’re out here protesting what they’ve done, taking away our heritage,” Creek says, to Cooper’s vigorous agreement. The group, Creek says is upset that the VMFA is “not telling the truth about what’s going on with the history of the confederacy.”

Trees and politicians…did you really expect a different outcome?

Last night I got 5 calls and 3 texts regarding the hearing on what happens next on Leigh Street. “Where are you?”. “You’re the voice of our community!”. Answers? I was at home and no I am not. I am just like you, a citizen who deserves answers. These community events are designed to placate you. If you ask for a tot lot, or a dog park, do you really think that will happen? The real questions that should be asked are, “What set of plans were the landscape contractors looking at?”. And the most important question, “Who will pay for the trees that eventually (if they ever do) get planted?” This is our city, your city and if real change is to ever be brought about, we must start demanding answers. I am a developer….yes it’s true. Doing what I do for my living, I knew that, by looking at the renderings for this project, those trees were toast. “But they told us they weren’t going to kill those trees!”, you say. And you bought that?

Look at the timing of the deal. Pre-election: THE REDSKINS ARE COMING! AND 7.8 MILLION DOLLARS IS COMING WITH THEM! ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS GIVE BON SECOURS A BUILDING THAT’S WORTHLESS IN THE WEST END AND PROVIDE $500,000 PER YEAR IN THE FORM OF SPONSORHIPS! AND BONUS! THE SCHOOL SYSTEM GETS NOTHING! Post-election: Uh well, the deal is not exactly like what we described…the 7.8 million number comes from the….the…Redskins…and Westhampton is worth a million even though it is assessed at WHOLE LOT MORE….and thanks to Chris Hilbert RPS gets a little more than nothing from the Westhampton deal.

If you believe that the historic nature of the Westhampton School will be protected, look at the trees on Leigh Street…oh that’s right,  you cant, they’re not there.

Don’t get me wrong, this was coming from a mile a way, and many of us saw it, but what will be will be. Or will you let it? It is your city, our city.

Richmond Cops and Firefighters to hold joint meeting regarding pay

This afternoon at 4:30, at the Richmond Police training academy, The Richmond Coalition of Police or RCOP and The Richmond Firfeighters Local 995 will hold a joint meeting, that will be open to the public. This meeting will focus on issues such as health insurance and pay. For the past six years, your firefighters and police have not received a pay raise. They have been advised that no raise is forthcoming for the next five years. Last year, it was reported, twenty-five active cops left the force, not by attrition, but by choice. Meanwhile local cops and firefighters face ever increasing health insurance rates. A cop who graduated academy 5 years ago takes home much less today than he/she did when he/she swore to protect us and our property. I know this is wrong and so do you. Let’s get involved. After all, they run to help us, why would we run away from them?

You can attend the meeting, or if unable to do so, you can “like” either organization on their facebook pages.,0,14815770310904201728&ei=QRwIUeDjMomw0AHap4CgDg&ved=0CJoBEPwSMAA





In a shift that brings deja vu all over again to the pages of our paper of record, The T-D reassigns Randy Hallman to cover business. Here’s his first stab at covering his old turf.


The Council and The Mayor skirmish over regionalism


Suzette Denslow, a mayoral lieutenant, is at odds over whether a balanced RMA is a good thing with Charles Samuels, President of City Council. Why? Michael Martz published this piece this afternoon after Manoli Loupassi introduced legislation that will balance the RMA and lead to harmony between the Region’s counties and the city. Samuels and Loupassi are right. It is time to cooperate…well past time actually. The Dillon rule has held cooperation up long enough. I hope The Mayor’s people “get it” and get going. Maybe it will mean we actually keep a baseball team. Maybe it means we will actually stop looking like the poor cousin who constantly demands money.

Loupasssi says in regards to the pressure that is being brought to bear on the city, “Pressure makes diamonds.” That and a whole lot of people working together.




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