Lee trustees say new law unconstitutional
Posted August 1, 2013
Updated August 2, 2013
Sanford, N.C. — Four members of the Board of Trustees of Central Carolina Community College have filed suit against a new law that terminated their positions on the board as of Thursday.
A Lee County Superior Court judge granted a restraining order against the new law on Monday, the day the lawsuit was filed.
House Bill 512, sponsored by Rep. Mike Stone, R-Lee, became law July 17. It ends the terms of the four trustees who were appointed by the Lee County Board of Education. It also bans the four from being reappointed to their former seats.
There are 16 members on the Central Carolina Community College board, most appointed by county commissioners in Chatham, Lee, and Harnett counties, the area served by the school.
The four terminated trustees – Janet Hayes, Tony Lett, Chet Mann and Chip Post – say the law unfairly targets the appointees of the county's Democrat-led school board while leaving in place four trustees similarly appointed by the Republican-led Lee County Board of Commissioners.
Post says the law doesn't serve any legitimate governmental interest. "It's just arbitrary and capricious. It's just designed to get in the face of our local school board," he said.
Post pointed to another new law, House Bill 491, also filed by Stone, that takes authority for school resource officers away from the Lee County school board and gives it to the sheriff, who is Republican.
Lee County Republicans, Post said, "want to control everything. They're just politicizing everything, is what it is, and I just decided I'm not going to sit back and let it happen."
He said the state constitution and state law grant appointees the right to serve four-year terms. The new law violates that right.
"I just got sworn in July 1. I'm the shortest-term trustee in history, I guess," he said.
The plaintiffs are being represented by Post's law partner, Jonathan Silverman. They've asked to schedule the first hearing in the case Aug. 8.
Stone did not respond to requests for comment.