Moore school board actions remain cloaked in mystery
Posted June 7, 2015
Updated June 8, 2015
Carthage, N.C. — Laura Lang is not backing down from her vote.
The Moore County school board member was among those who voted 5-3 on Thursday to buy out the contract of former Moore County Superintendent Robert Grimesey for $165,000.
The vote was met with backlash from hundreds of parents and teachers, including protests and a temporary injunction obtained by Rep. Jamie Boles, R-Moore, to block the board from hiring a replacement.
"I am saddened that some of the people I’ve supported for so long have disagreed with my decision without the facts that informed my decisions," Lang said Sunday. "If public opinion sways the board and Dr. Grimesey is reinstated, as is my legal obligation, I will do my best to work with him to address my concerns. I will not resign my position."
In court documents, Boles called for the resignation of those who voted to fire Grimesey. If they didn’t step down, Boles threatened to push a local bill to recall the school board members.
"My personal opinion is he has severely stepped out of his bounds, from one elected official to another elected official," Lang said of Boles. "There is obviously way more at play than even I am aware."
Board members Kathy Ferren, Ben Cameron and Sue Black submitted resignation letters on Saturday, stating that they made the right vote, but none offered the reason they voted to remove Grimesey.
"The resignations of three board members were not motivated by doubt about their decisions last Thursday but instead as a result of personal attacks and threats that they received," Lang said.
Ferren could not be reached for comment on Sunday. Cameron and Black declined to comment.
Board members discussed three options – terminate Grimesey's contract for just cause, force Grimesey to resign or buy out his contract.
Boles suggested in court documents that Grimesey's firing was based on personal animosity.
“I'm not going to speculate about motivations of other board members,” board chairman Bruce Cunningham said. “I am going to share with you that, to my knowledge, I have seen nothing that would constitute illegal conduct, immoral conduct, unethical conduct or any other form of conduct that would justify a dismissal.”
Lang cited personnel privacy regarding why she couldn't talk about the details behind her vote but said the decision was very personal for her.
"You go through days of crying and days of being angry, and yes, (resigning) definitely crosses your mind," she said. "It took a lot of soul searching and discussions with my family to decide what I was going to do. But ultimately, there was absolutely no impropriety in anything that was done, and I’m not willing to resign and make it look like I did anything."
Cunningham wants to bring Grimesey back, but said doing so would require board support and a new contract.
If Grimesey returns, Lang said she would do her best to address her concerns with him.
The school board will meet Monday at 6 p.m. at Union Pines High School. The board will go into closed session to discuss personnel issues before starting the public meeting at 6:30 p.m.
Two people have expressed interest in filling the board vacancies, Cunningham said.
"It’s been a crazy week," he said. "Let’s get on with the business of educating kids, and that’s what we’re going to do starting Monday."