Three members of the Moore County Board of Education -- Kathy Farren, Sue Black, and Ben Cameron -- have resigned in the wake of controversy surrounding the firing of Moore County Schools [MCS] Superintendent Robert Grimesey.
Farren, Cameron, and Black were among the five Board members who voted to unilaterally terminate Grimesey's contract during a special meeting on Thursday, June 4.
Since the news broke on Tuesday morning that Grimesey's job was in jeopardy, there has been an unprecedented outcry of support for the Superintendent from parents, teachers, students, and political leaders. That show of support continued after the Board's vote to fire Grimesey on Thursday and was accompanied by an equally forceful public condemnation of the Board's action.
On Friday, State Representative Jamie Boles obtained a temporary restraining order to prevent the School Board from hiring a replacement superintendent. Boles and Moore County's Board of Commissioners began to work on options for recalling the five members of the School Board that voted to fire Grimesey.
The remaining members of the School Board will have the responsibility of filling the vacancies created by the resignation of Farren, Black, and Cameron.
Farren and Black are Board veterans
Currently the School Board's Vice Chair, Farren is among its longest serving members, having won the District 2 seat on the Board in 2004. Schools in District 2 include West End Elementary and the West Pine Schools, as well as Pinehurst Elementary.
Farren served another term as Vice Chair in 2006, and served as Board Chair three times, in 2009, 2012, and 2014.
Black, currently serving as an at-large member, was most recently elected to the Board in 2014 after a few year's absence, but has served a total of eighteen years.
Cameron, who represented District 1 on the Board, was elected in 2012 and served as Vice Chair last year. District 1 includes the schools in the area surrounding Carthage.
In statements announcing their resignations, both Farren and Cameron stood by their vote to fire Grimesey.
"Many of Moore County’s citizens have asked me to rescind the decision I made last Thursday or to resign," Farren wrote. "Because I still stand by the decision I made, which was informed by information that is protected by strict confidentiality laws, I will not rescind the vote I made in service to Moore County Schools and our community."
"Over the course of time, I believe that the vote I made on Thursday will be revealed to have been the right decision for Moore County Schools," Cameron wrote.
Both Farren and Cameron indicated that their letter of resignation would be their final comment on the termination of the Superintendent's contract.
Both indicated that they were concerned that the controversy was disruptive to the school district.
"There are many needs for education," Black wrote, "and much work that needs to be done and I would not wish to stand in the way."
The three members' letters of resignation were submitted to Board Chair Bruce Cunningham and released by the MCS Community Relations office. The full text of each follows:
I wish to tender my resignation from the Moore County Board of Education effectively immediately.
I have served honorably for 18 years. I wish the children the very best in the years to come. There are many needs for education and much work that needs to be done and I would not wish to stand in the way.
Susan M Black
As a public servant, it has been my pleasure to serve the citizens of Moore County through my service on the Board of Education for the past ten and a half years. I respect the right every citizen has in this great country to voice their opinions, and I greatly appreciate those who did so with respect and dignity. Many of Moore County’s citizens have asked me to rescind the decision I made last Thursday or to resign. Because I still stand by the decision I made, which was informed by information that is protected by strict confidentiality laws, I will not rescind the vote I made in service to Moore County Schools and our community. To return the community’s focus to the education and success of Moore County Schools and its students, including the upcoming joyous occasion of graduation, I have chosen to resign my position, effective immediately, on the Moore County Board of Education.
Please accept this notice of resignation as my final statement regarding the actions I took on Thursday in service to Moore County Schools’ Board of Education.
My three-year service on Moore County’s Board of Education to support Moore County Schools has been among the highlights of my service to this county and the state. I remain steadfast in my belief that every decision I made during my service on behalf of the citizens of Moore County was right for our community and, especially, the Moore County Schools community. Over the course of time, I believe that the vote I made on Thursday will be revealed to have been the right decision for Moore County Schools. While recognizing that the majority of the community has not spoken out against the vote I made in good conscience last Thursday, I am concerned at the disruptive public behavior that is negatively impacting the Board of Education’s activities. The business of the Board of Education and Moore County Schools is more important than my personal service.
To continue to do my best to serve Moore County and Moore County Schools, I believe the only viable resolution to do my part to ensure our upcoming graduation ceremonies are focused on our students’ hard work and success is to resign my position, effective immediately, on the Board of Education.
This letter serves as my last comment regarding this challenging time in service to Moore County’s citizens.