Local News

House Bill Could Remove School Board Members For Bad Behavior

Posted March 2, 2005 4:52 a.m. EST

— Bad behavior on the job could cost school board members their seats. The state House is considering a bill that would make it easier to remove them from office when they act up.

Three years ago, Durham school board member Jackie Wagstaff's two misdemeanor convictions for falsifying checks got the attention of the state Board of Education. The state board said it was powerless to investigate and a judge said the local board could not remove her from her seat, but the new bill would change that.

"It gives us stronger standing to encourage the local board to take some decisive action," said Howard Lee, chairman of the state Board of Education.

"Well, it is certainly making it more defined in terms of what their role is," said Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland.

Glazier said state board members would become investigators. They would handle complaints and recommend when local boards should remove members for illegal or immoral behavior.

"This bill is not meant to provide an out for people who don't like each other," Glazier said.

If the bill passes, personality conflicts like the

school board problems

in Durham could be a question for the board if someone complains. Issues of honesty, integrity and ethical behavior that interfere with a board member's duties are also fair game. Some argue about whether the bill about clarity is still somewhat unclear.

"Those can be very tough calls. I'm not sure if the state board will ever be in a position to do anything about that," Lee said.

One of the sticking points in the Wagstaff case is the fact that she was convicted before taking office. WRAL tried to contact Wagstaff for comment, but she was not available.