Critics Say School Board Selection Process Raises Concerns

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board swore in its new member, David Saussy, on Thursday.

Board members made their selection from a pool of 14 applicants (one dropped out from the original pool of 15) after Mia Burroughs left this board to join the Orange County Board of Commissioners. Mark Dorosin, an Orange County commissioner and civil rights lawyer, expressed disappointment with the way the board made its decision.

“This community purports to have a commitment to transparency and community engagement,” said Dorosin in an interview with WCHL. “And then to make a decision on something so significant without any conversation really is almost disrespectful to the public and certainly to the other candidates that were there in the audience.”

Dorosin wrote an op-ed in the Chapel Hill News criticizing the board’s decision-making process. The board voted in Saussy without publicly discussing which applicant would be the best fit for the job.

“We wouldn’t expect any elected board to make a fundamental policy decision in silence, without any conversation about what any individual member’s position was, why a member was supporting or not supporting one policy over another,” said Dorosin in the interview. “Why would we accept a vote like this in silence? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Mike Kelley, the new board chair, defended the selection process. He said members discussed how they would make a decision, and he said the candidate interviews were done in public.

“The board members could have made comments if they wanted to. There was opportunity to have discussion. They and I chose not to,” said Kelley in an interview after the Thursday meeting. “If someone wants to know, they can always call and talk to me or the other board members. And they may or may not share that because sometimes it’s very difficult when you’re talking about individual people, especially when you’re going to be expressing opinions about why you’re not selecting someone or why you’re selecting someone . . .It can be difficult to make certain statements in public.”

Kelley also said that when board members selected a candidate in previous years, they chose not to comment on the candidates.

Dorosin endorsed candidate Jennifer Marsh.

“He may be the best person for the job, but we have no way of knowing that,” said Dorosin about Saussy. “No one made any case as to why this candidate should have been selected and more importantly why or how the person they chose is going to effectuate the board’s priorities.”

Lynette Hartsell Files For Senate Seat

Photo by Angie Newsome

CHAPEL HILL – Lynette Hartsell, an attorney for 30 years, announced Friday that she filed for Ellie Kinnaird’s seat in the NC Senate.

Hartsell says she thinks she could represent some of the ideas that Kinnaird fought for during her time.

“I think the reason she is stepping down is telling about the process that is taking place there, but I believe that she and I are on the same page in regard to issues that she has fought for” Hartsell stated.

Recently, the NC Congress has passes a number of laws that Kinnaird argued against, like the Voter I.D. bill and the Motorcycle bill that restricted abortion in the state.  Hartsell says she sees many issues with the NC General Assembly and wants to change some of what has happened.

“Well I think that obviously, the main issue has to do with a lot of the redistricting that’s taking place, and a lot of the voter ids that are attempting to be passed an enforced, but I think most importantly too are the economic issues that involve all the citizens of the state” Hartsell said.

Kinnaird’s open seat will only be a temporary appointment until elections in 2014.  Many of the people who have filed for this seat have many years of experience holding office, like Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, former N.C. House member, Alice Bordsen, and current N.C. House member, Valerie Foushee.  Hartsell says she has many years of experience in law, but has little when it comes to holding office.

“No I haven’t, in terms of holding an office not at all, I’ve always just been involved in various grassroots efforts to get people elected” Hartsell commented.

Hartsell is among seven candidates looking for the appointment, all ranging in experience.

For more information on Lynette Hartsell click here.

Full interview is below