Local News

Former Durham City Councilor To Face State Board Of Education After Run-In With Law

Posted November 26, 2002 5:05 a.m. EST

— Durham school board members voted unanimously Tuesday to send the matter involving a newly elected member's run-in with the law to the state Board of Education, which will decide whether an investigation will take place.

On Monday, Jackie Wagstaff pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, admitting she altered city documents to help children attend a field trip. School Board Chairwoman Kathryn Meyers said her plea eliminates some of the gray area.

"Last week, she was innocent until proven guilty. Now, she has pled guilty and so whether they are misdemeanors or felonies, I see as less relevant than the fact that now we are not dealing with the possibility of guilt or the question of guilt," Meyers said.

Wagstaff, who was not present at the school board meeting, said she is not surprised by the board's decision. She said she has no intention of resigning and her focus is to improve the school system for children in Durham. She said she feels she is the best person for the job.

Officials say if an investigation is launched, that would be followed by a hearing in which the new board could vote on Wagstaff's status. School Board member the Rev. Michael Page said he questions that procedure.

"We have to understand that Ms. Wagstaff was elected by the people and she serves for the people, and, therefore, if they want to be removed, then they should remove her and not this board of education," he said.

To proceed with the investigation, the state Board of Education must find that Wagstaff engaged in disreputable conduct and is unfit to serve. In addition, the board cannot take any action against Wagstaff until she is officially sworn in on Dec. 12.