07/10/08 — Sneak attack: Duplin board should have let public hear closing argument

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Sneak attack: Duplin board should have let public hear closing argument

Be very, very quiet.

That’s how you manage to sneak a controversial decision through your board of education without having to deal with those pesky parents and voters.

And sneak is exactly what the Duplin Board of Education did when it did a write-in add-on to its meeting agenda and cast a vote that put an end to North Duplin High School.

Whether the decision was the right one is not today’s concern. What matters now is that an entire community missed the chance to share its feelings and to perhaps suggest alternatives. The board did not give those who care about North Duplin the chance to even make a case for saving it — and that is just wrong.

The word “cowardly” also comes to mind.

Those who are elected to a board of education, or to a county commission for that matter, should be aware that while they are in office to make decisions that will lead to the betterment of the entity they serve, they are also there to represent the people. And those people have a right to know what decisions are being considered and to comment on them before they are voted into inevitability.

The Duplin County Board of Education and the county commissioners are in a death match on school funding — and the district has said it cannot continue as it has in the past if a certain level is not provided.

In fact, it is still pretty likely this one might end up in court.

The last thing the Duplin School Board needs now is to seem even remotely like it is trying to punish the people or to ignore their concerns.

And when you have what amounts to a secret vote on a controversial decision, you are forgetting whom you are there to serve.

A residents’ group is gathering to discuss the matter and to decide what to do next. Hopefully one of their first tasks will be to address the board.

And this time, the members should listen.

Published in Editorials on July 10, 2008 10:59 AM