GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Three strikes but is he out? For the third time, teacher Michael Logan was rejected Thursday for a seat on the Guilford County Board of Education.

The board during its meeting on Tuesday voted, 5-2, to deny Logan, the Republican nominee to fill the open seat in District 3.

The vote again was along party lines, with one Democrat, Khem Irby, absent. This followed public comments both for and against Logan, an outspoken critic of the board who was nominated by members of the Guilford County Republican Party from District 3 to fill out the term Patrick Tillman vacated in November when he was elected to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.

What happens now is unclear. Logan, an automotive teacher at Southern Guilford High School, resumed classes with the start of a new semester on Jan. 27.

The Guilford County Republican Party can evaluate its option of choosing another nominee – which Logan and GOP Chair David Gleeson have said wouldn’t happen – or seek legal remedy under a statute that gives the GOP the right to nominate for the seat but the board a vote on acceptance. State legislators can take a look at the language of those statutes, but that is not immediate.

Guilford County Board of Education candidate Michael Logan (WGHP)

Logan has indicated on more than one occasion that it is his intention to run for a full term when the seat is on the ballot in 2024. He said his pending resignation was with that in mind. He attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“There are no changes that I know of,” Logan told WGHP via email on Monday afternoon. “I will be at the board meeting again tomorrow. Unfortunately, I think partisan politics will still be in play.”

Tuesday’s vote mirrored the two earlier rejections that were along party lines. Members had denied Logan, 5-2, late last year and then in a 6-2 vote on Jan. 10.

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

Democrats Deena Hayes (board chair, District 8), Bettye Jenkins (vice chair, District 7), T. Dianne Bellamy-Small (District 1), Deborah Napper (District 5), Irby (District 6) and Alan Sherouse (at-large) have voted against 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.

The GOP is responsible for nominating its candidate from the district – Logan was chosen from two suggestions, Gleeson has said – and school board attorney Jill Wilson has indicated that the appointment of the person to fill the seat must be approved by a majority of the existing board.

Gleeson, who in December said legal action could be possible, reaffirmed Monday that “Michael Logan is our nominee.” He also said he was hopeful that recent comments by elected leaders in Guilford County would help in that process.

Not election issue

Gleeson was referring to a comment by state Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Whitsett), who told the News & Record that he hoped the two sides could work out their differences. “If they don’t, the General Assembly is going to have to consider getting involved,” he told the newspaper.

That presumably would include addressing the language of the statute that lawmakers passed in 2013 to make Guilford County’s school board partisan, a move that pertained only to Guilford County and was not state law.

But in 2019 Hardister, state Reps. John Faircloth (R-High Point), Amos Quick (D-Greensboro) and Ashton Clemmons (D-Greensboro) filed House Bill 182 in a move to return the school board to nonpartisan.

Hardister and Clemmons have not responded to questions about whether they might resurrect this bill.

Patrick Gannon, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Board of Elections, has said that “this is not an election issue, it’s an appointment issue.” Charlie Collicutt of the Guilford County Board of Elections said his office only is involved to verify residence and affiliation.

Why he was rejected

Board members who opposed Logan, long an activist commentator at school board meetings, cited the fact that he was a teacher or that he had made derogatory posts about board members on social media. He has been called “divisive” by coworkers.

Welborn told the News & Record in Greensboro that she thought commenters were “nitpicking. The person I have seen is nothing but dedicated to his students.”

Logan has supported candidates – Pratt and Welborn among them – who had been backed 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 and shared on social media the sort of controversial claims that have turned school board meetings elsewhere into shouting matches and even death threats.

Irby, who in November was elected to a second term on the board, addressed each of the handful of questions and was very clear on how she viewed Logan’s candidacy.

“I have paid attention to many of his public comments and feel that his interest is not representative of District 3, considering I worked in a school there [Pearce Elementary] prior to being elected, and the family dynamics were diverse,” Irby, president of Parents Across America, wrote to WGHP.

“I also believe that board members must represent a view that sends a message to all families that we are inclusive and [that] we see them.”