The District 3 vacancy on the Guilford County Board of Education was filled Tuesday night — but not by the GOP’s pick as expected.
Guilford County Schools teacher Michael Logan had been vying for the open seat since the county Republican Party nominated him in December.
The North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation last month aimed at forcing Logan’s appointment. It eliminates the need for board approval if a nomination has been made properly within 30 days of the vacancy.
But at a Board of Education meeting on April 4, the board’s attorney Jill Wilson said that didn’t technically happen citing the language in the new law and the GOP’s letter nominating Logan.
“We received this letter from the Republican Party: Michael Logan is the choice of the members of the Guilford County Republican Party Executive Committee from District 3,” Wilson said. “If you remember, District 3 is no longer a component of the appointment.”
She explained that the new law requires the entire executive committee to appoint a replacement– not just the members from District 3.
“So as of this writing, the executive committee certainly has not voted or conveyed to you a nominee,” Wilson said.
Since 30 days had passed since the vacancy, she said it was now up to the school board to fill the seat. Several audience members, including Logan, began yelling at the board when Wilson explained this.
“If you were conducting business, I would be sitting in that chair,” Logan said before being escorted out of the meeting.
The board went on to nominate, vote for, and swear in Republican Bill J. Goebel in about seven minutes. He works with various youth organizations and co-hosts a podcast about finding common ground with people of different backgrounds.
“I know we're going to disagree on things. I look forward to disagreements, but I also look forward to more agreements,” Goebel said. “Thank you for letting me be part of your team.”
Republican Board Member Crissy Pratt said the school board’s move to appoint Goebel came as a surprise to her.
“I know at least two people sitting up here were blindsided, maybe others, I don't know,” Pratt said. “But that does not speak to the spirit of collaboration that I hope that this board will be able to have moving forward.”
During her final comments, Chairperson Deena Hayes-Greene said the board could have appointed a Democrat, but chose to respect the party that had occupied the seat.
“I'm very sorry that this community has been pitted against each other for the last four months," she said. "It was absolutely unnecessary."
The board voted 6-2 to appoint Goebel. Pratt and Republican Board Member Linda Welborn were the only no votes.
Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.