An elementary school in Virginia said “no thanks” when first lady Michelle Obama issued a request to speak at the school. The students at Chesterfield County elementary school aren’t going to get to hear the first lady’s pitch for her husband as she makes a campaign visit to the state of Virginia this week.
School leaders rejected the first lady’s request for an appearance, citing school policy as their reason for saying no.
“I do believe and think that Mrs. Obama, the first lady, should be allowed to attend a Chesterfield school,” said Dale District Supervisor Jim Holland. “I know it’s not school policy. However, I just do not agree with that, because I think it’s an honor for the first lady to visit a school. That’s just my personal opinion as supervisor.”
School officials initially refused to discuss the request with the public, and wouldn’t even confirm if the request was made. School spokesman Shawn Smith shut down the media’s efforts to get any more information about the first lady’s request for a visit.
“We respectfully decline to comment,” Smith said in an email.
The Chesterfield school board is overwhelmingly Republican, but there is no speculation on whether or not they would have allowed a Republican first lady to make the visit. But after being prodded on the matter, Holland did finally admit that the first lady made her request to come.
“It was confirmed that (Mrs. Obama) did in fact ask to come to a Chesterfield school,” Holland said. “I don’t know the extent of what their request was, whether it was a political request or whether it was an educational request.”
“If it was official, that would be appropriate,” Holland added. “If it was political, that would be inappropriate.”
Tim Bullis, the community relations director for the school district, made it clear that there is no campaigning to school children, which they speculate that the first lady would be seeking to do.
“If a political campaign were to inquire about the use of a school facility during the school day, the campaign would be referred to a School Board policy 6100, which prohibits the use of school facilities during the school day for political purposes,” Bullis said in a statement.
The Obama campaign issued this statement in response to the rejection: “Any time the campaign looks at venues for events, we consider a range of options. The school was only one of several options being considered in the greater Richmond area, and CenterStage theater was ultimately determined to be the best fit for this event.”