GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – A scenario is developing for the Guilford County Board of Education’s next meeting on Sept. 19 that may not end with a months-long dispute being settled by the most recent state law.

Michael Logan, the former teacher chosen – again – this week by the executive committee of the Guilford County Republican Party to serve out an unexpired term in District 3, is expecting to show up with supporters in tow to take his seat after a 9-month struggle to do just that.


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Bill Goebel, another Republican seated by the board in April in a surprise move, plans to be at that meeting and in his seat, which, he says, isn’t vacant – new state law notwithstanding.

It is through this parallax that we can view the potential continuation of a legal, constitutional and philosophical debate about who is filling out the 15 months now remaining in a term vacated when Patrick Tillman was elected last November to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.

Let’s start with Logan, who retired after a 26-year teaching career in automotive arts at Southern Guilford High School because he thought he had the seat after the GCRC first chose him in November. He was denied in four votes by the Democrat-controlled board and then again when a loophole in a weeks-old state law actually led to Goebel’s getting the job.

“Mr. Goebel’s position is irrelevant,” Logan wrote in an emailed response to questions from WGHP. “The appointment was removed with the passage of SB 9. It was not targeted towards him. The legislation addresses the actions of the leadership on Guilford County’s School Board.”

Senate Bill 9 is a local bill that Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford County) amended to include the requirement that, in general, the person chosen by the GCRC would be seated on the board and the previous move to add Goebel would be undone. That became law on Aug. 23 over the objections of most of the Guilford County legislative delegation.

Goebel’s response is in general that “there is no vacancy” and that he is going to continue in the position. He said he is continuing to visit schools, to address issues and to fulfill the role to which he was appointed, his credo being that “the main thing is the main thing.”

His attorney, Charles Winfree of Greensboro, was more direct: “They [lawmakers] can’t create a vacancy. There is no vacancy.”

And therein is the rub of all of this: What is the constitutional foundation for either side? Can Goebel be removed from the position?

Right to remain

“Under the constitution, if I’m in an office, I remain in that office during challenges,” said J. Michael Crowell, an attorney hired by the school board and Goebel to handle their defense in a separate open-meetings suit brought by Republicans on the board and Logan. “It happens all the time in all sorts of government.”

Former NC Supreme Court justice Robert Orr

Robert Orr, an attorney in Raleigh and former associate justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court, said that “generally, the GA can do whatever it wants to do with local government. If they wanted to abolish Guilford County, they have the authority.

“The courts have not been particularly kind to local governments when challenging the GA. One exception was the Asheville Water Authority case from a few years back but that was very fact-specific.”

Crowell is clear that he has no role in this particular case – Winfree had said they would talk – but there is at least one local example of how this might play out.

Former Guilford County commissioner and state senator Trudy Wade kept her board seat for about 18 months as she challenged the outcome of an election she lost in November 2004, ultimately taking her case to the state Supreme Court. She left the seat in the summer of 2006.

Didn’t pursue vote

Should this dispute about District 3 become embroiled in a legal dispute, the resolution may not be resolved for several months. Goebel has said he plans to seek the full term in 2024 and recently launched a campaign website. Logan has indicated his intentions to run, too, which could mean a faceoff in a primary on March 5.

Logan said that Goebel could’ve tried to win the seat at the party’s meeting on Wednesday night. Goebel was invited to attend even though he had been censured by the party after taking the seat in April, but he declined and said dinner with his wife was a priority.

Logan said there was one other candidate for the position, Maria Adams, whom he linked to the right-wing extremist group “Moms For Liberty,” and he said he had a vote in the process. The tally wasn’t disclosed, and the meeting was private.

“He [Goebel] had a chance last night and failed to attend,” Logan said. “He was invited. He had a chance last November to be nominated, but he did not run.  His only path to the seat was done in secrecy through the actions of the leadership of our school board.

“At no other time has there been another option for our school board. “

Board’s rejections

Chair Deena Hayes at Guilford County Schools Board of Education meeting.

The board, with a 6-3 majority of Democrats, had rejected Logan because of his public criticism of the board and his comments on social media that some of them found “divisive” and “offensive.”

Board Chair Deena Hayes had suggested in a letter to the News & Record that the party “put forward” candidates who had “not engaged in racially prejudiced writing, who seek to embody the values a board of Education member should hold and who have expressed an interest in representing District 3.”

When board attorney Jill Wilson found a variant language in the recently passed House Bill 88, Goebel, a Republican with a long history of running companies and working with kids, was approved in a 6-2 vote, with Republicans Linda Welborn and Crissy Pratt voting against him.

Separate lawsuit

It is Welborn and Pratt who joined Logan in suing the Democrats on the board, Goebel and the board in general for saying the process that led to that seating was executed in violation of state open meetings laws.

A judge this week rejected a motion to dismiss brought by Crowell and ordered discovery to begin. Crowell said he expects that if Logan is seated on the board, that lawsuit would become moot.

Logan said the suit would continue because it “addresses the actions of our Democrat Majority of the board overruling the wishes of the Guilford County Republican party in secret and without the involvement of all members on the board.  The legislation isn’t in favor of one party over another but addresses actions of the board.”

Welborn has said she is glad their suit is “still in the game.”

‘Set an example’

All of this sets up a scenario on Sept. 19 that could get dicey.

“We expect Mr. Logan to be sworn in and seated at the next scheduled Board meeting,” GCRC Chair Chris Meadows said in a release following Wednesday’s vote. “We anticipate a sizable crowd of voters and supporters from Guilford County District 3, as well as elected officials from Guilford County and the NC General Assembly to attend.”

It’s unclear who those elected officials might be, and the agenda for the meeting has not been established. Both Logan and Goebel are clear that they believe they will have the seat when the meeting adjourns.

“On Sept. 19th, our Board has another swing at doing the right thing. They have two strikes on following legislation,” Logan said. “They have another chance before striking out. We need to move on and stop the divisive politics.

“The taxpayers deserve a board without lawsuits and actions being brought against them.  I was an educator for 26 years and have the public/students’ best interest in my sitting on the board. We should set an example for our students and follow the law.”

Said Goebel: “We have a billion-dollar operation here. We need someone who knows how to run a business, not change a tire.”