Grimesey reinstated as Moore County superintendent
Posted June 8, 2015
Updated June 9, 2015
Cameron, N.C. — Amid a standing ovation inside a packed Union Pines High School auditorium, the Moore County Board of Education voted 4-1 to reinstate Robert Grimesey as superintendent Monday night – four days after the same board voted to fire him.
The difference – three of the board members who voted to remove Grimesey resigned on Saturday.
"As it has for the past six days, Moore County stands together as one tonight," Grimesey said following the vote. "Not for a man, not for any man, but for its own ideals and its principles. For its economic vitality and its quality of life."
Following Monday's vote, board member Becky Carlson, who voted to remove Grimesey but supported his reinstatement, submitted her resignation before leaving the auditorium.
"While I stand behind the decision I made last week, I agreed to reinstate Dr. Bob Grimesey due to the overwhelming response by the public," she wrote in her resignation letter. "This decision in no way diminishes the validity of my previous decision. Due to confidentiality laws, I am unable to defend my position, however, I made my decision based on my knowledge of the facts before me during my tenure on the board."
Board member Laura Lang, who voted against Grimesey on Thursday and Monday, said she will not resign.
"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," she said Sunday.
Grimesey’s reinstatement was met with loud applause from the auditorium, which was mostly filled with teachers. The meeting was moved to the high school to accommodate the large crowd, which also included elected city and county officials as well as representatives from Sandhills Community College.
In a goodwill gesture, Grimesey refused to accept the $165,000 he would’ve received in his buyout package.
Monday’s vote was the latest chapter in the ongoing turmoil that has engulfed the school board within the past week, coming just two days after board members Kathy Ferren, Ben Cameron and Sue Black submitted their resignation letters. All three stated that they made the right vote, but didn’t say why they wanted to remove Grimesey.
Ferren could not be reached for comment. Cameron and Black declined to comment.
The announcement of their resignations during Monday's meeting was met with loud applause.
In court documents, Rep. Jamie Boles, R-Moore, called for the resignations 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.
Boles, who obtained a temporary injunction to block the board from hiring a replacement, suggested in court documents that Grimesey's firing was based on personal animosity.
Residents who spoke during Monday's meeting described the school district's culture as one of fear and intimidation facilitated by the board members who voted against Grimesey.
"Simply put, we do not trust you anymore," resident John Davis said. "We do not trust you to do what is best for our children. We the voters want you gone. The fact that you can't figure that out is astounding."
Carol Stewart, who is in her first year as a Moore County teacher, said her co-workers were afraid to sign petitions supporting Grimesey in fear of retaliation.
"Last Wednesday I learned there's a whole level of fear and intimidation in the Moore County school system that I was not privy to because I was new," she said. "I think it's a shame that our teachers feel intimidated to the point that I was going to attend the board meeting last Thursday and I was told not to go because 'your name will be mud.'"
Karen Kent, a mother of two middle-schoolers, saw the experience as a learning moment for the county.
"If we the parents, grandparents, citizens, students and friends of Moore County continue this momentum, to turn it into involvement in schools and more funding for schools, then this gift you have given us is priceless," she said. "We have unfinished business in a recall election and cleaning house."
Grimesey said he doesn't know why he was fired, but he believes the school board is politically fractured.
"I was never afforded an opportunity to know what my deficiencies were," he said.
The embattled superintendent said he was happy to be back at work.
"I am Dr. Bob Grimesey, and I am again at your service," he said, to another standing ovation, to conclude his superintendent's report.
The process to replace the departed board members will start this week, said board chairman Bruce Cunningham, who added that anyone interested can email him.