Public blasts Granville school leaders over pay raises, contracts
Posted June 3, 2014
Oxford, N.C. — Community members packed the Granville County Board of Education meeting Monday night to voice their frustration with school leaders' pay raises and contracts, with some calling for the leaders to resign, apologize or give the money back.
After the public comments, board members met in closed session to discuss personnel issues for more than three hours. They emerged around midnight and said they plan to continue their closed session meeting on June 11.
The public's frustration stems from an audit released May 16 that cites problems with how the district handled contracts for school leaders, including the superintendent and associate superintendent.
"Most board members expressed that they were surprised to learn the details" of the contracts, according to Jill Wilson, an attorney with Brooks Pierce in Greensboro, who was hired by the school board to do the audit.
Wilson found that the board "did not always take formal action" to approve, amend or extend contracts of some administrators.
"The board chair believed he and counsel for the board were authorized to not only engage in negotiations with senior staff, but to enter into contracts on behalf of the board of education without any formal action of the board whatsoever," she wrote.
It also found that, from 2007 to now, Associate Superintendent Allan Jordan's total compensation "changed from just over $92,000 to almost $172,000, which was applied retroactively beginning Jan. 1, 2012, through the present, with only $1,800 of that increase actually resulting from board action."
Several community members blasted school leaders at Monday night's meeting, saying they shouldn't have received pay raises and other benefits during tight financial times for the school system.
"We need to do whatever we can do to get this administration out of here. A change must come," community member Clarence Dale said, as people in the audience clapped and shouted in agreement.
Bullock resident Susan Hiscocks told the board she wished she had the resources "to bring these contracts to the local superior court to challenge them and overturn them."
"Everything needs to be brought out to the light," she said.
Oxford resident Jeffrey Grigg fought back tears as he demanded to know the truth from school leaders.
"These actions, if true, bring a disgrace to this community," he said. "If it's true, then shame on you."
Superintendent Farley declined to speak with WRAL News on Monday night. Instead, he released a statement saying that "it is important for this community to know that its superintendent and its board of education operate with integrity."
"Unfortunately, statements in the audit report have been distorted by (media outlets) and those distortions have undermined the confidence of some community members," he wrote. "My contract extensions in 2013 were voted on by the board in open meetings and all of my contracts and contract extensions during the entire time I've been employed with Granville County Schools have been signed by two board members."
Associate Superintendent Jordan was not at Monday's meeting, but his lawyer spoke with WRAL News recently. Attorney Ellis Boyle said his client doesn't think there was anything inappropriate in the contracts.
Monday's meeting marked the second time in recent weeks that the board has met in closed session to discuss personnel issues. The board met privately on May 16 for nearly three hours to discuss the audit and craft a public statement. Reporters and members of the public waited outside the board room and could hear yelling and raised voices coming from the meeting room several times.
When the public was allowed back inside, the board's new interim attorney, Nick Sojka, read a prepared statement and said the board's current attorney, Jim Cross, who helped handle the contracts, was no longer welcome at board meetings.
"The board anticipates additional meetings and actions on an expedited basis in order to address matters identified in the report released tonight," Sojka said, declining to give more details about what those actions could be.