GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Members of the Guilford County Board of Education for the fourth time on Tuesday night voted against seating teacher Michael Logan to fill the opening from District 3, and now that apparently will be their final chance to do so.
Logan, nominated by members of the Guilford County Republican Party who live in that district, again was denied the seat on the board by a vote along party lines. Only the two Republican candidates have supported his nomination.
But their approval no longer will be needed. House Bill 88, introduced by state Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Whitsett) and Rep. John Faircloth (R-High Point) to clean up language in the statute covering this process, was passed Wednesday afternoon and immediately becomes law.
The seat has been open since November, when Patrick Tillman was elected to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, but Logan, an automotive teacher at Southern Guilford High School, has been denied the seat because board members object to his social media posts and public comments that they have called “divisive.”
Two residents of District 3 spoke Tuesday night during the public comments portion of the meeting.
One supported Logan’s candidacy and decried the absence of representation for thousands of residents of the district and the “political forces” that have kept him from being seated. She also read a statement from Tillman.
The other pointed to Logan’s persona and record and reinforced the need to “value unity and respect” and focus on courage rather than blame in schools and the community.
SB 88 passed its concurrence with adjustments made by the Senate, 67-48. This is a “local bill” and not subject to veto by Gov. Roy Cooper.
The House had the final vote because the Senate – which approved the bill, 27-18, a week ago – had added an amendment and merged HB 88 with three other local bills that addressed similar issues involving school boards.
Before the Senate’s final vote, Sen. Warren Daniel (R-Buncombe) amended the bill to clarify that a person appointed to fill a seat in a single-member district must live in that district, and this follows amendments passed a week earlier to include Senate Bill 103 for Henderson, SB 150 for McDowell County and SB 59 for Maysville and Pollocksville. Those first two bills would make those boards of education partisan, and the other clears up two election schedules.
That caused more debate on the House floor than might have been expected. Four people spoke out against the bill being expanded to include counties and boards not previously considered. One of them was Rep. Amos Quick (D-Greensboro).
“When this bill when initially was presented, I said I wanted to make sure my voice was heard as a no,” Quick said. “But I did not see that coming. This bill has gone away and come back as a monster for North Carolina.
“This started out with one person in person in Guilford County and a school board’s right to vote on that person. And now it has come back a monster that is other counties that would be affected by this bill. … It started out as one man and came back bigger.”
Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro) also spoke out against the bill and apologized to Hardister for changing her vote from previous support. She does not think school boards should be partisan. “It came back a much worse bill,” she said.
Hardister – the House majority whip who in 2019 filed legislation with Quick and Faircloth to return the Guilford County school board to nonpartisan – said in moving to adopt the bill that the school board had not responded to the statute as it should have. He suggested state law that would clarify this for all school boards would be forthcoming.
HB 88 cited “errors made by staff” with two paragraphs that address general statute GS 115c-37.1, which undermined language in the local bill that former state Sen. Trudy Wade (R-High Point) pushed through the General Assembly in 2013.
Logan said he doesn’t think any of this is required for him to take the seat for which he has been nominated, that he plans to fill until the term expires in 2024 and for which he has said he intends to seek re-election.
“There never has been a need for the legislation to place me on the board,” Logan wrote in the email to WGHP. “Due to partisan politics, the Democrats have refused to seat me. They have another chance to do the right thing and follow the law as it was intended.”
Jill Wilson, attorney for the school board, said Monday that she would have to read the final bill before knowing how to advise the board on its next steps. The board doesn’t meet again until April 3.
The six Democrats who have voted against Logan, with Hayes as their leader, recently published a cosigned letter in the News & Record in which they cited a litany of issues they had with the way Logan has conducted himself and asked Republicans to submit the name of a different candidate.
“We have issues and problems within our schools our school board continues to be unwilling to work with someone from within the schools. Why?,” Logan wrote to WGHP. “It isn’t my posts since none fit the accusations by Deena Hayes-Greene. It isn’t the phone call to the board.
“Where is the evidence? Who was the person? Do we even know if it was a student? If I was under investigation for these statements and they were found to be true then why am I still employed?
“If I was under investigation, would they hire me back as we have seen in the latest scenario in the news? Our board needs to accept that I will be installed and do the right thing.”