Yes Virginia, I called the School Board, except for Danny Blanton, a bunch of “nit-wits” and “nincompoops” in my last article. Then they wasted no time in proving me right at their February 11, 2019 School Board meeting. And then some. With Commissioners Doug Bridges and Deb Hardin watching them at every gaffe.
The said meeting started out as usual. A Pledge of Allegiance, no Prayer-just a moment of silence, the usual show and tell with students. The usual fluff to bring out parents, who then leave before the business actually gets started.
One show and tell regarded teachers who had just gotten their certifications for the first time or renewed. The introduction to that brought out the first embarrassment, without anybody’s help. The presenter noted that North Carolina led the Nation in the number of certified teachers in schools and that Cleveland County Schools led the “Region.” The presenter did not define just what the “Region” consisted of.
But, any relatively quick thinker familiar with CCS’s statistics knows 46% of graduating students cannot read, write or do arithmetic proficiently. So, what does all this bragging about “Certifications” have to do about anything? It should be obvious to the most casual observer that Cleveland County Schools are failing to provide our children with the proper education to render them proficient with the Three “R’s.” And, I am not even counting that as an embarrassment. Things get worse from here on out.
The Minutes of the disastrous January 28, 2019 meeting are approved without comment. But what could they say? My last article blew them out of the water about their waste and cover-ups from that meeting.
Entering into a contract for legal services comes up quick enough. Board member Danny Blanton is about to bust some bubbles.
For years CCS has retained Tharrington & Smith, an expensive Raleigh law firm as the school board’s attorney. When CCS Board Chairman Shearra Miller announces that item on the agenda. Danny Blanton immediately raises his hand for permission to speak. Exactly the right thing at the right time for Blanton to do. But Miller, very unwisely, asks the school board for a motion to approve the contract. The motion to approve the motion is made and seconded. Then Miller asks for any discussion.
Again, Danny Blanton raises his hand for permission to speak. And this time Miller yields the floor to Danny Blanton. Blanton’s simple question was, did CCS get any other bids from other law firms to provide this service? (I suspect Danny Blanton already knew the answer to that question.) Superintendent Dr. Stephen Fisher reluctantly admitted that CCS had NOT gone out for competitive bids for this expensive contract. A flagrant violation of common sense and probably a violation of CCS Policies on top of that.
Fisher immediately goes into his “fast talking” mode. Words come out of his mouth fast and furious. Often not meaning a thing. I have noted Fisher’s “fast talking” mode several times over the years in previous articles and I can tell he is working on keeping a “poker face.” But, when Fisher is caught like this with no valid comment to make, he reverts to his old ways.
But not only is Fisher caught in a mess of his own making. Chairman Miller is too. And the rest of the school board!! If Miller had only recognized Danny Blanton before the motion to approve was made, even the nit-wits and nincompoops would have had enough sense to instruct Dr. Fisher to go get competitive bids and come back to the board for approval of the low bid.
But they were caught between a rock and a hard place. And the slow thinkers didn’t know what to do. So, they do what they always do, like Fisher and his fast talking, they started running off at the mouth too without fully recognizing just how bad they were caught having to defend the undefendable.
What they did after some speechifying? They ended up approving the motion to approve the contract, when the right thing to have been done was to withdraw the motion and instruct Fisher to get some other bids.
But, during the speechifying noted above, school board former chairman Phillip “Bully” Glover, came on strong defending Tharrington & Smith. They had given CCS good serviced said Glover. Along with saying that cheap legal service was OK, but you need the best when you are in a lawsuit. To that Danny Blanton asked “what kind of lawsuits are we in?” To that simple question Blanton got no answer either. The best answer, if they were truthful, would have been, we have NO lawsuits against us. But they refused to answer, knowing that-by this time-they were stuck to the Tar Baby with no way of getting loose.
The meeting went on to the Personnel Report. Again, Danny Blanton brought up the fact that lots of teachers were leaving CCS and was CCS trying to figure out why? Supt. Dr. Stephen Fisher stated that CCS DID know why the teachers were leaving and despite all Danny Blanton’s cajoling, Fisher refuses to provide those reasons. Then the nit-wits and nincompoops fired up again. Jeff Jones had some paperwork that he purported CCS was below the state average for teacher turnover-but not including the fact that the NC General Assembly and the State School Board have called for something to be done about the high teacher turnover in North Carolina. Exactly what Danny Blanton has been working on for years now. All the while Jones acknowledges that he had the paperwork, had not showed the paperwork to anybody, but would pass it along to Dr. Fisher for distribution. Of course, making the paperwork a public record that legally any member of the public has the right to see. But too late to be discussed in this meeting and likely never will be discussed. Except for the next time Danny Blanton asks this question.