The Guilford County Board of Education voted to hire legal counsel to advise members on the ongoing issue of how the vacant District 3 seat was filled — a dispute that dates back to December

It started with a Republican Guilford County School Board member resigning, leaving it up to the county GOP to recommend his replacement. But the school board rejected the conservative pick, GCS teacher Michael Logan, several times citing concerns about racial prejudice.

That's when Republican lawmakers first stepped in, passing a law in March aimed at forcing his appointment. But in April, the school board approved its own pick, Republican Bill Goebel, instead.  

The saga continued in August, when legislators passed another law that would have Goebel removed. But Goebel’s lawyers claim the statute is unconstitutional.   

At a special meeting on Monday, the school board’s attorney, Jill Wilson, said she'd like other lawyers to handle the issue. 

“Here's where I am. I need to be your board lawyer. And we need to run a school system," Wilson said. "And this school system has 70,000 kids who are counting on you to continue to make good decisions for them.”

She urged board members to hire experienced election lawyers to advise them on how to proceed with the ongoing dispute. 

Board Member Linda Welborn said she thought this was unnecessary, and that the school board should have approved Logan from the start. 

“For the legislature to feel they have to go that far to get the public the representation that they believe they want, is a shame," Wilson said. 

But Chairperson Deena Hayes argued that Logan was never elected by the public, and that the school board did follow the law. 

“There have been people that have come to this podium for the last nine months from District 3, supporting the decision that the board made," Hayes said. "The board could have, at that time when the time had lapsed, appointed a Democrat. And we didn't because we did respect that it was a Republican that held that seat.”

At Monday’s meeting, the board voted 5-2 to hire legal counsel from the law firm Poyner Spruill, with Goebel abstaining.

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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