Doing the public's business in code so the public doesn't know what's going on | Eastern North Carolina Now

    North Carolina law, good judgement and common sense says that the public's business should be conducted in public. More specifically, the law requires all votes taken by a public body, such as a school board, be taken in public so the public can know how each board member voted.

    Now the law does allow certain specific things to the discussed in private, such as confidenital personnel information. And example of that would be a discussion of the performance of a principal or other staff member. But once the discussion has run its course the law says that the board must come back out into open session and actually vote on the matter, such as whether to renew a contract, in the open so everyone can know how the vote went.

    Practice in North Carolina has been traditional that when a number of employees are to be voted on that the board can make a list of names and positions (which is called "directory information" and is specifically not confidential information) can be voted on as a list. But just as soon as that list is voted on it becomes public record, just as the vote is public record.

    Watch the Beaufort County Board of Education do the public's business in this video clip from its May 26 meeting and decide for yourself.


    This practice is routine for this School Board. They seldom allow the public to see what they are voting on when the vote actually takes place on personnel. They frequently meet with their attorney behind closed doors to discuss "legal advice" that is clearly not protected lawyer/client privileged information and they usually fail to comply with the law's requirement that: "When a public body meets in closed session, it shall keep a general account of the closed session so that a person not in attendance would have a reasonable understanding of what transpired."

    And this particular incident is interesting in and of itself for another reason. Note in the video that a motion is made, seconded and voted on. It receives a tie vote. Rather than announce the failure of the motion as required by parliamentay law, the chairman then declares the board in "recess." Then they decide to go back into closed session. They come back out of closed session and vote to renew the principal's contract without ever voting to reconsider the previous action as is required by parliamentary procedure, with the person making the motion to reconsider being on the prevailing side (no) of the previous vote. Thus one could argue that the action was illegal.

    What is interesting about that is that it was not necessary. All the chairman had to do was cast his vote as the tie-breaking vote. So what was the reason for going into closed session a second time?

    Delma Blinson writes the "Teacher's Desk" column for our friend in the local publishing business: The Beaufort Observer. His concentration is in the area of his expertise - the education of our youth. He is a former teacher, principal, superintendent and university professor.
Go Back

Leave a Guest Comment

Your Name or Alias
Your Email Address ( your email address will not be published)
Enter Your Comment ( no code or urls allowed, text only please )

“Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” Teacher's Desk, Editorials, Op-Ed & Politics Ding, Ding, Ding ... Diane ...Round three


Latest Op-Ed & Politics

Singer-songwriter Jewel struck a sour note with some people while delighting others with her performance of the national anthem at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
Why on earth would anyone choose either? When will we ever learn
North Carolina Republicans voted to override Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of a 12-week abortion ban, using their supermajority to put the pro-life measure into law.
An inexplicably-unforeseen outcome has begun to take form since Hollywood writers began their writer's strike to demand more writerly benefits for writers.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) defended the tentative agreement on the debt ceiling he made with President Joe Biden during a press conference Sunday after criticism from some Republicans on the concessions, saying the deal is “worthy of the American people.”
A federal judge is allowing a Cleveland County Emergency Medical Services worker to proceed with a potential class-action lawsuit dealing with overtime pay.
Do you think the Russians care one iota about respecting U.S. law?
caught spending 82 million euros in Europe to oppose fracking


“The world needs more fossil fuels,” according to Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress. Epstein argues that the benefits of energy sources such as oil, coal, and natural gas far outweigh the costs.
A windowless van was seen lurking outside New York City elementary schools Monday. Witnesses claim the driver handed out obscene pornographic material to minors and lectured them on LGBTQ representation in literature.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) slammed the Biden administration’s new EPA rules around electric vehicles and tailpipe emissions.
Two recent news stories about educational institutions in our state illustrate the truth of that statement.
The world can see China is not a “great power” as the U.S. Congress unites in demanding freedom for Mark Swidan, an American who has been “unjustly detained” for more than a decade, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declared on Tuesday.
As lawmakers in the General Assembly are poised to consider a bill that would streamline the process of approving new charter schools, a statewide charter advocacy organization reports that more than 77,000 students remain on waitlists to join charter schools.


Back to Top