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Critics Worry About Durham's Image After School Board Flare-Up

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DURHAM, N.C. — Durham is a city that is often fighting an image problem. Sometimes, it has to do with crime. Other times, it is political fighting. Now, a school board flare-up has some city leaders worried about the image once again.

Wednesday's school board meeting was about setting rules for public comment. Board member Regina George-Bowden got upset when she came upon a surprise policy change.

"I'm the chair of this committee, so how did this get on here without it running through me?" she said.

George-Bowden walked out during the meeting, along with school board member Jackie Wagstaff.

"Our student academic performance is definitely improving, and yet it seems the conduct of our school board members are getting a failing grade," real estate broker City Councilman Eugene Brown said.

Brown said a history of angry episodes has hurt business.

"I've actually lost some clients from people who wanted to move here, wanted a diverse community, but again, they don't want a community where everyone seems to be at war against themselves," he said.

Reyn Bowman, of the Durham Convention and Visitors' Bureau, would like to see things change.

"We will always stick out. We will always and that's as much a positive as a negative," he said. "It would be better for the community if we could find ways to resolve conflict that were more productive."

School board member Heidi Carter said she informed George-Bowden about the added item weeks ago. Carter said she wants to smooth things over with George-Bowden before next Thursday's meeting.


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