Editor’s Note: By North Carolina State Law School Board business is required to be conducted in OPEN SESSION. But North Carolina State Law also allows a Closed Session for just a very few limited reasons that are specifically described in North Carolina General Statute 143-318.11(a) 1-10. It is a criminal act for a board, including a school board, to go into a closed session for any other reason. It is just as illegal, perhaps more so, for a school board to enter into a closed session for a specified reason and then discuss other items that are not allowed under North Carolina law to be discussed in closed session. Conspiring to violate any law, misdemeanor or felony, is felony conspiracy.
The last item on the agenda, prior to adjournment, for the August 12, 2019 School Board Meeting was a Closed Session identified for the purpose of legal consultation and discussion. North Carolina law allows for Closed Sessions for legal discussions with an attorney, also strictly limited to lawsuits, etc. Not for items that are not specified as previously described. In fact, NC Law strictly says, that just because an attorney is present and joins in a discussion is NOT reason for a closed session if that discussion is required to be in open session.
All kinds of laws were broken by the School Board Chairman Shearra Miller and the other School Board Members (except Danny Blanton) at this August 12, 2019 School Board meeting.
The August 12, 2019 School Board meeting was contentious, almost from start and certainly at the finish. And Illegal most all of the way. Danny Blanton voted against adopting the Agenda in an 8-1 vote. Little did I know then that Danny Blanton was the only School Board member that was acting within North Carolina Law.
During the Public Participation, I had signed up to speak. I noted that I had filed a Freedom of Information Act Request for plans on the Auditoriums at Burns and Crest High Schools that was noted on the Capital Projects Report that would come up later in the meeting. I stressed my concern in building new Multi-Million-dollar auditoriums on schools that were over 50 years old. And, why didn’t CCS just build new Schools with auditoriums and swimming pools and other facilities that would be equal with Shelby and Kings Mountain High Schools? I also reminded the School Board that I had sent each of them my FOIA requests and hoped that the Capital Project Report would answer my questions. But the Report answered no questions and here it is two weeks later and nothing from CCS about my request for information has been provided. Note: Two weeks later and nothing has been provided about the auditoriums at Burns and Crest High Schools.
School Board Member Danny Blanton also signed up for Public Participation as Chairman Miller refuses Blanton the opportunity to add items of importance to the regular agenda. Bringing widespread criticism of the School Board for this illegal and unethical action of disallowing a duly elected school board member the opportunity to speak as is allowed all other school board members.
Blanton begins his three minutes by reminding Chairman Miller that he had asked some time ago for records over the last three years regarding how much was paid to CCS attorneys and such records had not been provided. Miller immediately stated that she had asked for the records. Blanton then asked were we that slow in paying the attorneys. Miller said to ask the CCS Financial Team, who were present. And when Blanton turned to ask the financial team, Chairman Miller then called Blanton out of order and tried to shut him up. Then, with Blanton’s remaining time, Blanton asks about the Title IX Federal Investigation of the ALWS funding at Shelby High School “Boys” Baseball Field. Blanton asks for a report on the status of the Federal Investigation. Superintendent Fisher chimes in, with Blanton’s time still running, says he had not heard anything. Blanton askes has CCS attorneys hired any other attorneys in this matter, again Fisher “said” he didn’t know (then, who does know who is spending CCS and taxpayer $$$??). Blanton spends the remaining 45 seconds stating that he does not want any more autistic children beaten up and otherwise bullied at CCS schools and then unfairly punished.
During the agenda item titled District Modernization provided by the newly promoted preacher’s daughter Jennifer Wampler, Danny Blanton askes several pointed questions regarding whether or not school credit cards could again be misused and whether old records would be lost as they were during the recent school credit card scandal. Nothing of consequence was discussed to allay those concerns.
It was also of concern that Wampler did not provide the Capital Projects or the HR Reports related to insurance and CCS employee benefits, that are under her direction, but her education, experience and education do not justify her as competent. Instead of Wampler presenting the Capital Projects Report, Wampler’s subordinate, Mr. Boheler, was called to make the report. Something I had suggested to Supt. Fisher at the previous school board meeting when I questioned him about promoting Wampler into a position in which she was unqualified. However, Boheler gets the additional work and Wampler still gets the additional pay. That’s how it works at CCS under Superintendent Stephen Fisher and the School Board-except Danny Blanton.
Mr. Boheler’s Capital Projects Report provided nothing about the status of auditoriums at Burns and Crest High Schools. However, Danny Blanton had plenty of questions about CCS spending. Like the $600,000 on the Kings Mountain High School Football Field to “support” a betterment project led by KM Football fan David Brinkley. Lots of money toward Kings Mountain facility betterment while Burns and Crest get no such support. Danny Blanton even made the motion to add such work to Burns and Crest High Schools, but no other board member would second the motion, which died on the spot.
Note that the first hint, that the Closed Session at the end of the August 12, 2019 School Board Meeting Closed session would be about a pipe repair at Kings Mountain High School as discussed in the Capital Project Report rather than a “legal” discussion, surfaced during the Capital Projects Report. Later on, in the meeting, under another agenda item, Supt. Fisher noted that the pipe under the Kings Mountain Football Field would be discussed in closed session. Totally against State Law. I knew right then and there that something was badly amiss and illegal going on that the School Board did not want the public to know anything about.
And that was only the beginning of illegal thinking and doing from the School Board.
In the agenda item regarding the 2020-2021 School Calendar discussion centered around the state laws about school calendars and that several school districts had adopted school calendars that seemed to violate state law. School Board Member Roger Harris, well known for illegal hanky-panky while principal at Crest High School, gave a long diatribe about how he had read the law and believed those other districts were in violation of the law. However, said Harris, if they don’t get prosecuted, CCS should do the same thing-violate the law because there was no prosecution for doing illegal things. Watch the CCS Broadcast. Don’t believe me.
I was appalled that a sitting School Board member, sworn to uphold the law, was actively and knowingly advocating breaking State Law if they could get by without being prosecuted. And Cleveland County’s justice system is well known for NOT prosecuting CCS crimes. Like the school credit card scandal or the teacher sex-scandal at Crest High School that Roger Harris had helped cover-up. Clearly a conspiracy. And just as clear that conspiracy is a felony crime that the school board was in the act of committing. Knowing that DA Mike Miller would not prosecute them.
This was the setting leading up to the Motion to go into Closed Session. Under NC General Statute 143-318.11(a)(3). The statute allowing a closed session for discussion of approved legal matters. Funding and fixing a Kings Mountain High School ball field stormwater drain pipe certainly does not meet the criteria of a legal matter. Except in the Twilight Zone and at illegal Cleveland County School Board meetings.
Editor’s Note: CCS school board meeting agendas always call for Closed Sessions to be at the end of the meetings, right before the meeting is officially adjourned. Also, the Board Meeting Video Broadcasts are also stopped at this point as happened again at this August 12, 2019 School Board meeting. NOTHING after this point is caught on camera or recorded for the public to see.
Also, most pf the time any member of the public, if not already gone, leave at this point. Except for me. I almost always stay to see what might happen when the School Board comes back into Open Session to take a vote on what was discussed and approved by the school board in Closed Session and then adjourn the meeting. During this time, I usually just sit there in the meeting auditorium, studying my notes, etc., until the school board comes back and close the meeting.
This time was different. And NOTHING that happens next is recorded on the CCS Broadcast.
As I sat there in the empty auditorium, wondering why I am wasting my time for nothing, I decide that I would also leave the meeting, run some errands and then go home from another fractious and illegal school board meeting that nobody cares about anyways. Then I think, this would be your first time to leave a school board meeting before it actually ended. More thinking about all the wasted time sitting there all by myself-so I reluctantly decide to leave. Little unknowing that my presence as a witness to events, somewhere else, that I never expected were in store.
Since my vehicle was parked on the East side of the CCS Central Offices, I walked out the back of the auditorium and turned left, with the intent of leaving from the side entrance. Still feeling a little guilty for leaving.
As I pass through a set of doors, I see Dr. Greg Shull and the usual Shelby Police Officer standing there discussing some do-it-yourself home painting projects. So, I stop and join in with the chit-chat. We talked about Grayco airless paint sprayers, how to adjust the nozzles and different paints and costs per gallon and such. Each offering our own experiences.
Then I notice that our location was right at the intersection of a hallway that lead to the front-side entrance to the Board Meeting Auditorium. So, I ask, where is this closed session? Right there, as one of the chit-chat participants pointed toward a closed door. So, I decided that if the school board came out of their closed session while I was still there chit-chatting, I would return to the meeting, just to see what had happened. Little did I know that what was about to happen, happened right there in front of my face.
The room the school board was in for their closed session must have been soundproof. I could not hear a peep from that room and neither could anybody else. The Shelby Police Officer was standing just past the corridor intersection-not exactly in a direct line of sight to the door for the room the school board was in. Dr. Shull was standing inside the intersection of the halls, with his back to that door. I was standing inside the intersection with a direct line of sight to the door of the Closed Session room as well as the hall leading back to the auditorium. I was perfectly placed-without knowing that fact, for whatever was going to happen. Totally by luck or some form of Deja-vu. Or whatever.
Then it happened!!!
That door, only a few feet away, to the soundproof room the school board was meeting in closed session in, suddenly burst open-catching everybody by surprise.. Danny Blanton was the first one out, saw Dr. Shull and I and loudly stated, “Somebody call the Police!” Hearing that call for the Police, the Shelby Police Officer, who had seconds previously been leaning somewhat against the corridor wall, outside Blanton’s line of sight, suddenly stood upright, eyes wide open, alert and ready for action. “They won’t ever let me have an agenda item that I request” Blanton said as he bolted straight toward the front door of the Central Services, out the front door and was gone like a flash.
The other School Board members, Phillip Glover, Shearra Miller Roger Harris and Supt. Stephen Fisher leading the pack, had initially been on Blanton’s heels leaving the soundproof meeting room. But, upon seeing us; Dr. Shull, myself and the Shelby Police Officer right there surprised and wide awake paying attention, the other school board members stopped in their tracks, hesitated and then turned in the opposite direction and filed back into the auditorium front entrance.
Ad for myself, seeing that Danny Blanton had already left the building, out the front door by himself, I looped around back to the auditorium by the back entrance to see what the rest of the school board was going to do.
But, what could they do? They were caught in the act of “badgering,” harassing and bullying Danny Blanton-who wisely cut a trail from those in pursuit, knowing they could make up any story and make it stick since it was 8 to 1. But seeing me, Dr. Shull and especially the Shelby Police Officer right there on the spot, their wicked schemes and dirty tricks were limited. So, went came back into the auditorium and without even sitting down, Chairman Shearra Miller called for a motion to adjourn. And the vote was immediately 8-0 to adjourn the meeting. The School Board members left from the side entrance and huddled, obviously scheming on what to do next. I left from the back entrance, out of the front door and straight to my vehicle
I knew exactly what Danny Blanton was thinking. Once, during a severe rainstorm at the end of a school board meeting, I decided to leave by the auditorium front-side entrance since that way was closer to my vehicle and I didn’t’ have an umbrella with me. Phillip Glover told me that I could NOT leave by that exit. I pointed to the exit sign and said that I WAS going to leave by that exit. Glover said he would call the cops. I said go ahead. But then I saw all the rest of the rogue school board members and had second thoughts. My thoughts were, these clowns could make up any story and make it stick because there were so many of them. I quickly turned back into the auditorium and out the back door. Sometimes common sense is better than valor. I had no witnesses that I felt would tell the truth and they had a bunch of witnesses that I knew would lie. I am sure Danny Blanton felt the same way.
Now, it is time for the Cleveland County Commissioners to step up and do their duty. The School Board feels free to plot criminal activity even in open session. And are prepared for mayhem in illegal closed session. They have violated their sworn oath to uphold the law. They cannot be trusted with the minds of our children nor the money they get from our taxes. The Commissioners must do what it takes to suspend this band of scofflaws as soon as possible. And I do mean suspend the the local school board’s authority and take over the school board’s responsibility until a new school board can be appointed or elected in 2020. And I mean NOW!!!
Stay tuned folks. I am in the process of filing a Freedom of Information Act request for the minutes of the August 12, 2019 School Board Meeting Closed Session. Since it was an illegal meeting, all those minutes should be readily accessible-NOW. Commissioners, do your job. Or, goodbye Susan Allen, Ronnie Whetstine and Johnny Hutchins in the 2020 elections. Along with a goodbye to Shearra Miller, Richard Hooker, Roger Harris, Jo Boggs and Jeff Jones in the 2020 Elections if not before.