Wake County Schools

Wake school board sees limited interest to fill seat vacated by member who died before re-election

Posted December 4, 2018 5:52 p.m. EST
Updated December 4, 2018 10:32 p.m. EST

— The Wake County on school board will swear in new members Tuesday evening, but the question of who will fill a seat left vacant when a school board member died earlier this year remains.

Kathy Hartenstine won re-election to the Wake County Board of Education last month, despite the fact that she died unexpectedly in late September.

She was unopposed for the District 7 seat and garnered 95 percent of votes on Election Day.

Wake County school board members on Tuesday discussed the District 7 vacancy, noting that there is just one applicant to fill the seat.

School leaders discussed whether the vacancy was properly advertised, and most agreed the board should move forward with the interview process despite receiving just one application.

"So we will still hold the interview, which you all know is a public interview process, and then the board also votes publicly," Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler said.

Hartenstein joined the board in 2016, when she was chosen to finish the term of District 7 representative Zora Felton, who died in November 2016. The 68-year-old Hartenstine had worked for 35 years as a teacher and a principal before serving on the board.

Hartenstine's eventual replacement won't be the only new face on the Wake County school board.

Heather Scott was elected in November to fill the District 1 seat previously held by Don Agee. Tuesday night, she said she already has ideas for improvement and contributions to student assignment.

"I know sometimes, although I do think the board has been pretty transparent, I do think there is sort of a breakdown of communication that is happening somewhere," she said.

As family and friends witnessed the swearing in of board members, Johnson-Hostler said the event was a reminder of why they all choose to serve.

"The work is difficult, the nights are long, but it's worth it for the 162,000 students," she said.