GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – The chair of the Guilford County Republican Party said Wednesday that his group is prepared to sue to get the person his members chose seated on the Guilford County Board of Education.
The school board on Tuesday night voted, 5-2, to reject the GOP’s nomination of longtime teacher Michael Logan to fill the seat in District 3 that became vacant when Republican Pat Tillman on Nov. 8 was elected to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. Tillman last week was sworn in as a commissioner.
Republicans last month had followed state statute and chose Logan, an automotive teacher at Southern Guilford High School, from between two residents of the district who had been nominated to fill Tillman’s seat. Only GOP executive committee members who live in District 3 could vote.
“I am disappointed with the Board of Education’s decision,” Guilford County GOP Chair David Gleeson told WGHP. “The District 3 seat was held by a Republican, and it’s the Guilford County Republicans Party’s responsibility to appoint a nominee to fill that seat.”
The board rejected Logan’s appointment along party lines. Democrats Deena Hayes (board chair, District 8), Bettye Jenkins (vice chair, District 7), Deborah Napper (District 5), Khem Irby (District 6) and new member Alan Sherouse (at-large) voted against Logan’s nomination, and Republicans Linda Welborn (District 4) and newcomer Crissy Pratt (District 2) voted approval. District 1 member T. Dianne Bellamy-Small, also a Democrat, was absent.
Napper told the News & Record that she voted against Logan because he had made derogatory comments about board members on social media. Jenkins cited the fact that Logan had not resigned his job as automotive teacher at Southern Guilford High School, as law requires.
Logan told the board during public comments that “that is my seat.”
But because the law required that the replacement for Tillman to be chosen by members of the GOP who live in the prescribed district, it’s unclear what the next step would be. School Board Attorney Jill Wilson of the law firm Brooks Pierce told the News & Record that the matter would be placed on the board’s agenda for its meeting in January.
A spokesperson for the North Carolina Public Instruction responded to WGHP’s questions about the case by saying those queries should be referred to Wilson. “Because we are a state-level agency, we aren’t involved in local-decision making or local processes.” DPI Communications Director Blair Rhoades wrote in an email.
Wilson didn’t respond to an email seeking clarification on next steps.
“In 2018, the majority voted to deny the Democratic candidate Winston McGregor who was selected to fill the seat vacated by Alan Duncan, until we recessed, and a board member changed their vote,” Hayes said. “About nine months ago, the BOCC [Board of County Commissioners] voted to approve the replacement for Carolyn Coleman [Frankie Jones]. This law has governed the process for the BOE and commissioners since it was enacted.”
Said Gleeson: “We do not happen to agree with the Board of Education’s decision based on legal statutes. We are pursuing appropriate legal remedy.”
He said the GOP has outside counsel of record, but he declined to name that attorney. He promised that when more information became available that he would share it.
“The process is very simple,” Logan said in a follow-up email. “Pat Tillman was the District 3 school board member and a Republican. His replacement is decided by the executive committee of District 3.
“It is the process that has been used repeatedly, and if the legal representative of the GCS doesn’t have an understanding, my recommendation would be to seek legal counsel. The local and state GOP are working to remedy the situation.”
Hayes was re-elected in District 8 without opposition. She was joined in securing a new 4-year term by fellow incumbents Welborn and Irby and newcomers Sherouse and Pratt. Representatives of Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 serve until 2024.
That’s why Logan was nominated to serve the two years left on Tillman’s term. He then could stand for election, if he so chose, in 2024.
But the issue with his employment is an issue that Logan fully grasps. He said in November that he wanted to finish the courses he was teaching, because his students are on a block schedule, and their courses would be completed at the semester break in January. That means there are only about three weeks of instruction time to be completed.
“My desire is to work with my students to prepare for state exams and certifications in January, since SGHS is a block school and this being an appointment, not an election,” Logan wrote last month in an email to WGHP. “We are in a new area where an educator is going straight from the classroom to school board. State law doesn’t allow for an educator to be on the board while employed by the school system.”
Gleeson in November said Logan has been “active in the county party for some time and is president of the group’s Men’s Club.” He’s listed on the party directory as its board rep for District 3.
And Logan has been active and vocal in attending school board meetings and has said his goals are to develop “job opportunities for students that will lead to lifelong careers. We need an expansion of CTE areas for students at all high schools. Keeping tax dollars spent in our local economies. Practical and efficient use of monies that will provide safety and security for our students and staff.”
Logan said he grew up in Greensboro, earned his automotive education at Guilford County Technical Community College and has taught automotive science to about 2,500 students.