Editor’s Note: Once again the Cleveland County Schools Board of Education has shown their true colors. The public be damned and North Carolina law be damned too as far as that bunch is concerned. Folks, don’t believe a word I say here. Just read and then go watch the CCS Board Meeting Broadcast and see for yourself who did right and who did wrong.
First of all, let’s discuss the Public Participation part of the School Board Meeting Agenda. What North Carolina law requires the Cleveland County Board of Education to do and then how the CCS School Board tries their best to violate those laws-and do. The point in questions is whether or not the School Board “Policy” that says public speakers cannot yield their time to another speaker is legal or not.
This is what the North Carolina law says:
§ 115C-51. Public comment period during regular meetings.
The local board of education shall provide at least one period for public comment per month at a regular meeting of the board. The board may adopt reasonable rules governing the conduct of the public comment period, including, but not limited to, rules (I) fixing the maximum time allotted to each speaker, (ii) providing for the designation of spokesmen for groups of persons supporting or opposing the same positions, (iii) providing for the selection of delegates from groups of persons supporting or opposing the same positions when the number of persons wishing to attend the hearing exceeds the capacity of the hall, and (iv) providing for the maintenance of order and decorum in the conduct of the hearing. The board is not required to provide a public comment period under this section if no regular meeting is held during the month. (2005-170, s. 1.)
For a very long time now the School Board has tried to shut down Board member Danny Blanton. They won’t second his motions; they won’t allow him to have an item on the agenda. They get up and walk out of meetings when he tries to make statements for the record on items of great public interest. And that is just the start. In response, Danny Blanton, a duly elected Board member has taken it upon himself to sign up for the public participation, a state mandated requirement to allow citizens to speak out at school board meetings. But, limited by the Cleveland County nitwit school board members to only three minutes. And what can you say that is important in just three minutes? It is obvious that the School Board has something to hide as hard as they try to keep the truth from coming out at their meetings.
Mr. Stan Shaw and myself decided to take action of our own. Stan and I believe that every school board member, including Danny Blanton, should have the right to make public statements or provide information for the record at school board meetings and the school board was trying to take our First Amendment Rights away from us. And Danny Blanton too. So, both Stan and myself signed up for public participation, as did Danny Blanton at the July 22, 2019 School Board meeting. Stan and I both would yield our time to Danny Blanton, giving Danny six more minutes to have his say.
It went down like this.
Stan Shaw was called up first and stated he was “yielding his time to Danny Blanton.” Chairman Shearra Miller stated that was against school board policy and Stan sat down.
Then Miller called my name to speak. I also stated that I “Yield my time to Danny Blanton.” Again, Chairman Miller stated that was against school board policy. I did not sit down. I still had three minutes to go and I knew it. I had also read their policy closely. Also, the state law and guidance from the North Carolina School of Government (provided at the end of this article).
I told the school board that it was a shame and disgrace that a duly elected school board member like Danny Blanton, with the support of the people, was being treated this way. I stated that I did not believe their policy that “a speaker cannot yield time to another speaker” was correct because Danny Blanton was not just another speaker-he was a duly elected school board member. I asked for confirmation of the Policy number (2310) and stated there was no such permission given in the pertinent State Law for that Policy Statement. School Board member Roger Harris, the self-proclaimed Parliamentarian on the school board, read off where the Policy stated that a “speaker cannot yield his time to another speaker” and read off several North Carolina laws. Only one of the laws pertained to Public Participation and that law is noted above. Harris basically said that that was their policy and they were sticking to it-legal or not. Note the state law above and the bolded print. The second bolded item in the law clearly states that there should be a provision for speakers appointing a spokesperson, as Stan Shaw and myself had clearly done. That spokesperson being School Board member Danny Blanton.
But I was not going to let Roger Harris and Shearra Miller get off so easily, and I had time left. I asked the school board to make an exception to their (illegal) policy and allow my extra time to Danny Blanton. Danny Blanton, as a school board member made a motion to set aside the policy regarding yielding time for this meeting, as I was requesting. Of course, nobody seconded the motion so the motion died for the lack of a second. My time ran out so I sat down.
And, the school board has just officially committed a crime.
Then Danny Blanton, who had also signed up as a member of the public and “lowered the boom” on the School Board for his three minutes.
Danny Blanton stated that he had experienced some health issues that dictated to him that he needed to get his affairs in order. In doing that Danny checked into his CCS life insurance plan and discovered that if he had to leave his position on the school board that the life insurance at CCS group rates of $12 per month would be discontinued and his private citizen rate would be $800 per month. He also stated that his wife’s rate as a schoolteacher would go up to $500 per month when she retired. Blanton had discovered that this benefit of keeping your life insurance upon retirement at the $12 per month Group Rate had been dropped for all CCS employees and Board members without anyone ever being told about it. Danny Blanton also stated that he had checked around with other school districts and the option to carry over their life insurance at group rates was still in effect. This major change in CCS Employee benefits was obviously a decision to terminate this benefit made by the unqualified HR Director Jennifer Wampler. Or was just overlooked by the unqualified Wampler-whose years of education, training and experience was in teaching and none in HR stuff. Which will be the topic of another article.
So, all you 2,500 CCS employees and nitwit school board members, it might be a good time to check out your benefit packages to see just what you have and what you don’t have. If you want to have your affairs in order that is. It is obvious that Jennifer Wampler and the school Board are not looking out for you
Note there is NO restriction on yielding time to other speakers as the foolish CCS School Board has added to their policy. Obviously for the purpose of squelching discussion and free speech.