Fliers raise questions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Discrepancies uncovered in Suffolk School Board contender Bessie F. Watson’s campaign literature may be prompting her employer to take a second look at her qualifications.

Don Robinson, assistant county administrator in Isle of Wight County, where Watson has worked for the past four years, indicated that she will probably face some questions when she returns to work today. Watson, the county’s director of youth services, lost her bid for the Whaleyville seat on the School Board on Tuesday.

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&uot;We are looking into the matter,&uot; said Robinson. &uot;There are some things we want to discuss with her.&uot;

Robinson refused to elaborate, saying it was a personnel issue. He also refused to say whether Watson’s county employment application or resume indicated that she has a college degree.

Efforts to reach Watson yesterday were unsuccessful.

She admitted in Saturday’s edition of The Virginian-Pilot that she does not have a college degree.

Watson, through her campaign literature and comments made to both the media and voters during a community forum, claimed to have a bachelor’s degree in social work from Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina.

Watson told The Virginian-Pilot on Friday that she attended a program for high school students at the college in 1964 and 1965. Efforts to confirm that information with the college registrar on Monday were unsuccessful.

Watson also said she attended Norfolk State University in 1967 and 1968, and Hampton University from 1994 to 1996. The Pilot reported that officials from both universities confirmed she did take classes during those approximate time periods.

The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services, on which Watson serves, reports on its Web page that she holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Elizabeth City State.

Watson said the erroneous information in her campaign literature originated as a &uot;misprint&uot; that she never corrected in fliers that volunteers helped her create.