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Former W&L Principal enters guilty plea to DWI charges

Andrea Roane, former principal of Washington and Lee High School, whose arrest for drunk driving in a February 12 snowstorm roiled the Westmoreland County school system and eventually claimed her job, entered a guilty plea to DWI in Westmoreland County General District Court on Monday.

Roane, 40, had her drivers’ license suspended for a year, was fined $500 with $250 of that suspended, received a 60-day suspended jail sentence and was ordered to enroll in Virginia’s alcohol safety program. A charge for using a handheld device while driving was dismissed along with an earlier charge of reckless driving, which was filed at the time of her arrest.

The case against Roane was handled by Northumberland County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jane Wrightson. Wrightson was appointed after Westmoreland County Commonwealth’s Attorney Julia Sichol requested a special prosecutor in the case, citing a conflict of interest. Attorney Fleet Dillard of Tappahannock represented Roane.

Last month, the Westmoreland County School Board, which was the object of angry and bitter criticism from faculty, parents and students after they failed to discipline Roane in the three months following her arrest, voted not to renew her current contract, which ends June 30. Roane submitted a formal letter of resignation last week and was immediately relieved of her duties.

The delay in dealing with Roane, who was one of Westmoreland County’s highest paid officials, led to a number of loud and boisterous school board meetings which were attended by hundreds of students, parents and faculty demanding the school board take action against Roane.

Other county officials, including the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors, who were besieged by citizens’ complaints, called the school board to discuss the Roane situation, and a number of the supervisors showed up at the school board meetings. At one meeting, Board of Supervisors Chairman Darryl Fisher told the school board, “I am here, but I am not happy about it. The school board has to take care of its business.”

Roane’s car skidded off the road just before midnight at an intersection east of Montross in a February snowstorm. Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Deputies Kim Simon and Rafael Torres were called to the scene and arrested Roane for drunk driving and two other charges. She was taken to the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw where she was held overnight.

Roane, a native of Westmoreland County who graduated from W&L in 1993, was named principal of the high school at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year.  Previously, she was the principal of Essex Intermediate School in Tappahannock, where she also served as assistant principal for three years.

The daughter of a long-serving and respected Westmoreland County educator, Roane is a graduate of Hampton University. She also has a Masters Degree from George Washington University. In November 2011, Roane was elected to the Westmoreland County School Board, but she resigned after six months to accept the W&L principal’s position.

Richard Leggitt

 

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