GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – The Republican candidate to fill the open seat on the Guilford County Board of Education, rejected for a second time by the board, suggests that’s because board members don’t want a strong Republican serving among them.

But public comments described as “divisive” also could be a reason the board again declined to seat Michael Logan, an automotive teacher at Southern Guilford High School who Guilford County Republicans nominated to replace Patrick Tillman in representing District 3.

Guilford County Board of Education candidate Michael Logan (WGHP)

The board on Tuesday night voted, 6-2, along party lines, to deny Logan’s appointment. This follows a vote on Dec. 13 that was 5-2 against Logan.

Democrats Deena Hayes (board chair, District 8), Bettye Jenkins (vice chair, District 7), T. Dianne Bellamy-Small (District 1), Deborah Napper (District 5), Khem Irby (District 6) and Alan Sherouse (at-large) are opposed to Logan’s nomination, and Republicans Crissy Pratt (District 2)and Linda Welborn (District 4) support him. Bellamy-Small had been absent for the first vote.

“I slept comfortable last night and went to work today,” Logan wrote in an emailed response to questions from WGHP. “District 3 is being denied representation by the Democrat members of the board. They are trying to determine who will be seated.

“I have been appointed by the District 3 executive committee to fulfill Patrick Tillman’s term. My support and stance are firm.

“I am looking forward to my eventual placement on the board and representing District 3.”

GCGOP Chair David Gleeson had said legal action possibly would be taken if the school board didn’t seat the Republicans’ nominee, and he reiterated Wednesday that remained an option.

“We’re disappointed,” he said. “We don’t think the board has the legal authority to do what they have done.”

School board attorney Jill Wilson of the Brooks Pierce law firm in Greensboro did not respond to emailed questions. Wilson said Tuesday night that the matter would be brought up again at a board work session on Jan. 26.

“Attorney Wilson read the conflicting statutes quite clearly,” Hayes said in a follow-up about the meeting.

How it works

Guilford County Board of Education Chair Deena Hayes (GCS BOARD PHOTO)

Wilson has indicated that the appointment of the person to fill the seat must have the approval of the majority of the existing board. Patrick Gannon, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Board of Elections said that “this is not an election issue, it’s an appointment issue.”

He passed along the statute that covers appointments to fill boards elected on a partisan basis, which says:

“If the vacating member was elected as the nominee of a political party, then the person, board, or commission required to fill the vacancy shall consult with the county executive committee of that party and appoint the person recommended by that party executive committee,”

But Hayes was clear about her position in a comment to the News & Record in Greensboro: “Until someone says I no longer have the right to vote, then I will exercise my right to vote,” she said.

Why they oppose him

Logan has discussed crumbling school facilities and appeared to be commenting on the $2 billion in bonds the school board has to spend on improving and replacing them. The board is dealing with costs that for various reasons are far exceeding budgets.

“I teach in a classroom that the A/C is out again, a shop with no heat and a roof that leaks,” he said. “I know of the conditions of our schools, but I also know the waste and how business has been done.”

And he says the opposition by the board is because he would be a strong candidate to remain long-term.

“My long-term goal was/is to run in 2024,” said Logan, who submitted his resignation as a teacher in order to serve. “The board knows it. Why have I been putting in the time and effort?

“They know as an incumbent I will win. The fact that District 6 did not elect Tim Andrew is proof.”

Incumbent Irby received 52.5% of the vote in beating GOP challenger Andrew last November. Tillman, by contrast, won his seat in 2020 over Democrat Blake Odum by only 75 votes out of nearly 37,000 that were cast in District 3.

“Demetria Carter that ran at-large was the highest vote count on the Republican ticket in Guilford County this past election,” Logan said. “I helped and assisted with both campaigns and was looking forward to working with each.”

Carter’s higher vote total in running countywide is unsurprising, but she lost to Sherouse by nearly 20,000 votes.

Both she and Andrew were supported by a now-defunct support group called “Take Back Our Schools,” which said on its website that it is part of a “movement taking place” nationally. On its Facebook page, this group shared the sort of controversial claims that have turned school board meetings elsewhere into shouting matches and even death threats.

Public positions

And it’s the social comments that appear more the focus about Logan, who long has been an activist commentator at school board meetings. Napper told the News & Record last month that she voted against Logan because he had made derogatory posts about board members on social media. 

Some of those positions were mentioned during public comments during Tuesday’s meeting, and Hayes said she had received complaints about things Logan had said.

Welborn told the News & Record that she thought commenters were “nitpicking.”

“The person I have seen is nothing but dedicated to his students,” she told the newspaper.

Logan told WGHP that the “board members up for re-election in 2024 will have to stand by their votes of allowing pornographic material being presented and allowed for children at the schools. I have seen children punished for printing out what GCS schools now allows to be checked out in the media center.

“We have internet software that would block online pornography but not what a student can check out of the media center,” he said.

Logan in a follow-up email late Wednesday night said that the book’s name is “Life Is Funny” and that it was discussed at a special board meeting on Dec. 8, which he said he attended. The book had been brought up by a parent at Northern High School and also in Alamance County.

“The sad part was in the meeting it was shared that it was rarely ever checked out, so why even have it there?” he wrote. “Yes, students have access to most any kind of material on their phones, but why do we need it in the media center. We have bigger issues that need to be delt [sic] with. Remove it, and let’s move on. How much time was wasted on this? In this case it wasn’t even being checked out.

“No I have not read the book but parents did and they made a point to contact me over it. The meeting was held in the middle of the day when most parents are working.”

GCS spokesperson Gabrielle Brown said that “we do not have any resource challenges at Southern or any other schools.”

‘Source of division’

Corbin Duncan, a chorus teacher at Southern Guilford High School, told WGHP, “Mr. Logan’s actions within the school as well as his private posts on Facebook have been a source of division in the Southern Guilford community since before I was hired.

“Any time a teacher does something perceived as part of the ‘liberal/progressive agenda’ – such as myself showing solidarity with LGBTQ+ students with a door sign, or an English teacher wearing a sweatshirt reading ‘Ban bigots not books’ – he makes comments to people in the hallway, posts disparaging messages on social media and generally sows discord for discord’s sake.

“This undermines any community-building efforts the rest of us engage in, making it difficult for us to unite across our differences.”

Asked if there was a chance the GOP might reconvene and nominate someone else, Gleeson said, “I don’t see that happening.”