Editor’s Notes: While writing Article Part XVI (Published July 8, 2017) about the CCC Board of Trustees meeting held June 11, 2017 regarding the many scandals and the leadership crisis at Cleveland Community College, which have been magnified ten times over by cover-up, gridlock, and what appears to be all around bumbling (seemingly on purpose) by the CCC Board of Trustees, and the planned schemes by the CCC Administration the following thought became obvious:
“Perhaps it is time to just pull the plug on Cleveland Community College and Cleveland County students go to Gaston College, Isothermal or Catawba Valley Tech in Hickory.”…Robert A. Williams in CCC Part XVI Article. I would now modify this a bit to leave off the word “Perhaps” and add “have the State Board of Community Colleges completely take over the running of CCC.” As it is now certain after the July 11, 2017 CCC BoT meeting that the CCC Board of Trustees are not capable, as a group of individual trustees with enough of them to cause gridlock so their own agenda to keep a lid on the bad things that have happened and are still happening can prevail. I was relatively late in coming to this conclusion.
The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renews reporter who first broke this sordid mess at CCC back in her April 4, 2017 article concluded her article early on by saying “If trustees aren’t willing to fully investigate potential whistleblower claims, which seems to be the case now, the onus is on North Carolina’s State Board of Community Colleges and other higher-level policymakers to do so. If that doesn’t happen, innocent college instructors may be mistreated, students may end up shortchanged, and taxpayer funds may be wasted on questionable or poorly managed programs.”
It is sad to say that the scandals swirling around CCC have now been traced back to the hiring of Dr. Shannon Kennedy, her rapid and controversial rise to power and dual enrollment program problems surfacing as early as 2005. Now the scandals have been exposed and Dr. Steve Thornburg is still on the job pending his $200,000 payoff. And the CCC Board and the scheming administration seems to be heading toward promoting Dr. Shannon Kennedy to President of Cleveland Community College. Read on. I bet when the pieces of the puzzle are put together in this article every reader with the most basic level of comprehension will come to the same conclusion as the James C. Martin Center Reporter and as I have come to those same conclusions.
July 11, 2017, 11:30 AM, Cleveland Community College, Shelby, North Carolina.
I walked into the CCC Jack Hunt Campus building seconds behind 2017 School Board candidate Kevin Whisnant. Mr. Whisnant, uncertain where the Board of Trustees Board Meeting was to be held, waited for me at the top of the stairs. I showed Mr. Whisnant where the Board Meeting was to be held. We were the first of many that were coming to attend the BoT scheduled meeting. Little did anybody expect at that time, but a planned scheme by CCC Administration to “trick” the Trustees had already began. Read on!!
As we were still very early, Mr. Whisnant and I were waiting outside the President’s Office door when CCC President Dr. Steve Thornburg came out the door pulling a lectern that had sheets of paper attached to it. I asked Dr. Thornburg if that was where you want us to sign in to attend the meeting? Dr. Thornburg said, “no, this is the sign-up for people who want to speak to the Board during public participation.” I immediately “smelled a rat” as this public participation signup sheet already had a number of signatures already on it, before it ever hit the light of day. I did not recognize any of the several signatures on that sheet. However, since I have attended County Commissioner meetings and School Board meetings for years, I have learned to pay attention to even the slightest detail of what goes on in Board meetings. And when there is some deviation, there is a reason for it that will soon play out if you pay close attention. Read on and I will explain to you the significance of those pre-signed public participation sign-up sheets during the course of the Board Meeting.
As the time for the meeting to start (12 Noon-sharp) came near and more and more citizens were coming in, we all went into the Board Room and found a seat. I immediately recognized that the CCC Board and Administration had read my previous article criticizing the “fancy meal” that they had at taxpayer expense. Fine china, lily white custom monogrammed (cloth napkins, silverware, steaming hot serving trays and a full and fancy meal. This time they still had all the fancy china, etc. but the meal was a single large scoop of chicken salad and a sandwich roll. Plus a very small individual dish containing some grapes or black olives. I was not close enough to tell which.
Since I happened to have found a seat close to the head of the big shiny table, I reminded Chairman Greg Melton that according to North Carolina law, the Board of Trustees had gathered together at 12-Noon and that is when the meeting actually began, And that just simply changing the agenda to show the meeting started at 12:30 PM so the Trustees could eat their meal did not satisfy NC Law regarding changing the time, place or date of a Board meeting. Mr. Melton immediately turned around, left and came back with Ms. Shante Martin, an attorney with the NC State Community College Association. Ms. Martin explained that they had posted a time change on the President’s Office door and that was all they needed to do to change the time of the meeting. Well, I was not going to have any of that. I informed Ms. Martin that posting a sheet of paper on the President’s Door at a Community College that happened to be closed for the summer did not meet the standards of public notification according to the law as it was stated. Also, I said, the Board of Trustees would have had to vote at their last meeting before the change of schedule for the meeting and they had not done so. Ms. Martin had no answer for that. But again, this was the first time a lawyer had attended a CCC Board of Trustee meeting. Again, I smelled a Rat!!! Bad legal advice telling the Board that what they did was right when it was obviously wrong. Something was up. In just a few minutes I see Ralph Meekins, the CCC Board lawyer. Later there would be a third lawyer. Something was definitely up.