Fact check: Did Dan Forest miss 'almost half' of education board meetings during pandemic?
During the North Carolina gubernatorial debate, Gov. Roy Cooper said Lt. Gov. Dan Forest had missed "almost half" of the N.C. Board of Education meetings since the pandemic started. Forest said he has "been to almost every one of those meetings." Here's what PolitiFact found.Posted — Updated
Lt. Governor Dan Forest thinks he would be a better governor than Roy Cooper.
Cooper said: “The Lieutenant Governor is on the state Board of Education where the state opening plans are discussed and voted on. And while I’m working with them and public health officials, he’s missed almost half of the Board of Education meetings during the pandemic,” Cooper said.
Forest responded by saying “I’ve been to almost every one of those meetings, especially every voting meeting. My staff sits in. My education experts and advisors sit in on all of those meetings, we don’t miss a beat on an education meeting. We never have. We’ve always been present at all of them.”
So what’s the truth here?
We’ll rate Cooper’s statement, since he’s the one bringing up the subject as an attack. He said Forest has missed almost half of North Carolina’s education board meetings during the pandemic.
As it turns out, Cooper’s claim is almost spot-on.
There have been 28 meetings since then, according to Deanna Townsend-Smith, DPI’s director of board operations and policy. Most of them were over an hour long, meaning the board has spent well over 24 hours talking about education policy just in the last eight months.
Forest has missed 13 of the 28 meetings, or 46%.
Forest missed meetings on March 18 and 27. He attended five meetings in a row before missing seven out of 10 from the beginning of May to the end of July. He then missed four in a row between Sept. 3 and Oct. 7.
In some cases, Forest arrived late to meetings but was still counted present.
“Present does not always mean attendance for the entire meeting, but present at some point and time,” Townsend-Smith said.
What Forest missed
It’s unclear why Forest missed the meetings. Neither his office nor his campaign responded to questions from PolitiFact this week.
Forest said during the debate that his experts and advisors “sit in on all” of the meetings.
Staff members can’t vote. And Townsend-Smith told PolitiFact that board members “cannot have anyone attend the meeting on their behalf.”
Forest “may have had someone listening to the meeting on his behalf,” she said, adding “however that is not something that is within my purview and you would need to verify that with the LG’s office.”
Cooper said Forest has “missed almost half of the board of education meetings during the pandemic.”
We’re not here to say whether or not Forest should have attended the meetings. However, we can say whether Cooper’s stat is correct.
The state Department of Instruction says Forest has missed 13 of 28 meetings since the pandemic started. That means he’s missed 46% of the meetings.
That’s close enough to “half” for us. We rate Cooper’s claim is True.
Copyright 2024 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.