School board appointments proceed without teacher input

Asheville City Council on Feb. 23
INDEPENDENT STUDY: Teachers in the Asheville City Schools system have no formal role in the process approved by Asheville City Council to appoint Asheville City Board of Education members. Screen capture courtesy of the city of Asheville

“I’m really struggling with this process as a parent, as a councilor,” said Asheville City Council member Sage Turner, as her colleagues considered how they would appoint three members of the Asheville City Board of Education. “I’m really struggling with us not listening to teachers.”

Nevertheless, Turner joined all Council members save Kim Roney in a Feb. 23 vote to request essays and interviews from only seven of 15 school board applicants. That approach is significantly more limited than a parallel process by the Asheville City Association of Educators, a local teacher group, which will endorse candidates after sending all 15 hopefuls a detailed questionnaire.

In light of the ACAE’s work, Roney had also asked Council to request essays and interviews from all 15 candidates. “I suggest we take a moment to listen and lead in a way that’s going to make space for inclusion, with the intent to promote healing,” she said, before introducing a motion to that effect; none of her colleagues offered a second.

Council’s pool of candidates is already one fewer than had previously been agreed to in a Feb. 9 vote. In addition to the three school board incumbents — Joyce Brown, James Carter and Patricia Griffin — Council had planned to interview five newcomers: juvenile court counselor Stephen Blount, urban education graduate student Michele Delange, UNC Asheville Dean of Students Jacquelyn Carr McHargue, Buncombe County Recreation Services Director Peyton O’Conner and Homeward Bound of WNC executive George Sieburg.

However, as of Feb. 16, Blount had withdrawn his application, and Council members did not move to fill his slot with another new candidate. Speaking with Xpress on Feb. 18, Blount said he had pulled out after “persons in the community who were supporters of individuals who didn’t make it” questioned the address he had listed on his board application.

Per city policy, all school board members must live in the Asheville City Schools district. Buncombe County property records show that the address on Blount’s application is located in the district and owned by his parents. Although the 26-year-old Blount provided Xpress with a phone bill listing his name with that address, he repeatedly refused to confirm that he resided there.

Council members are expected to interview the seven school board candidates on the morning of Tuesday, March 23, with appointments made during their regular meeting that evening. State law requires all appointments to be effective by Thursday, April 1.

According to City Attorney Brad Branham, Council could still reopen its approach to consider more candidates should members wish to include the ACAE’s input. “You are not required at this point to continue the same process or limit yourself on who you vote for at the end of the day,” he explained. “You have one and one only obligation in this regard, and that is to make those final appointments.”

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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the Assistant Editor of Mountain Xpress, regularly contributing to coverage of Western North Carolina's government, environment and health care. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville, and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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7 thoughts on “School board appointments proceed without teacher input

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    ACS people who do not support a consolidated ALL ONE equal, diverse, inclusive modern government school system FOR the children AND the taxpayers are hereby called out as total privileged RACISTS in Asheville, NC !!! To RESIST consolidation is RACIST !!! totally!

  2. Smith

    Asheville City Schools has been on the decline for years. The pandemic just helped that along a little more. And bringing kids back to school for this short time shows how weak the leadership is in Asheville. And I don’t think we need to listen to the teachers about what they want, they haven’t done their job since last spring.

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    • DreadT

      Placing the blame on teachers is unfair. They don’t make managerial decisions, those come from the top. They have done their best with a situation no one planned for. If you want to blame someone who is not doing their job, start with the students and parents.

      • Stevie

        Blame the children?! When they have surveys and majority of the teachers didn’t want to return, used by the boards to make the decision not to return, yes teachers can take some of the blame. It’s called not wanting to do your job. Private schools seem to be having few if any issues.

  3. Asheville on the decline.

    “I suggest we take a moment to listen and lead in a way that’s going to make space for inclusion, with the intent to promote healing,” she said, before introducing a motion to that effect; none of her colleagues offered a second“

    Ok , who voted for this lady?! She should be a one term council member. Seriously, if you voted for people like this and other current members of City Council, who run this town on emotion and not actual sense, don’t complain. Maybe vote for someone who has actually accomplished something in their life.

  4. Mike R.

    The Asheville City School system needs to be merged into/with Buncombe County Schools. The system is too small to be cost effective for taxpayers. Recent past resignations of numerous top administrators, ongoing financial problems, a ridiculously cumbersome and restrictive process for “appointing” school board members, all clearly point to a merger for more efficient and very likely better results.

    I’ll ask again: Name 3 benefits of having a separate Asheville School System. 2? 1?

  5. Enlightened Enigma

    Mayor, City Council and County Commission ALL are to be labeled democrackkk RACISTS as they RESIST school system consolidation!
    Which ones of them will come forth to do this and prove they are NOT RACIST ? WHO will it be ???

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