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Testy Mecklenburg trustees retain leaders

SoVaNow.com / February 05, 2014


Rancor on the Mecklenburg County School Board was again evident as trustees battled over the choice of a board chair and vice chair during an organizational meeting Thursday night.

In the end, Robert Puryear was re-elected School Board chair and Thomas Bullock retained his position as vice chair. It was the first meeting of the new year for the School Board.

After Superintendent of Schools James Thornton opened the proceedings, Dora Garner quickly nominated Dale Sturdifen for chair. Sandra Tanner did the same with Puryear, and nominations were closed.

In support of his bid, Sturdifen said the School Board needs someone who is willing and able to communicate with members of the Board of Supervisors. He also stressed the importance of having more than one person who can lead the body. “Mr. Puryear has done the best he can do, but I think other board members should have an opportunity.”

Puryear said he deserved re-election because “things are going well” under his leadership. “We need to keep going down the road we’re going. I don’t see where I’ve done a bad job. I feel like we’ve got things going in the right direction.”

Glenn Edwards spoke against the re-election of Puryear, saying it would violate an existing policy — one adopted in 2006 that precluded the chair from serving more than two consecutive terms. Tanner countered that no such policy exists in the document written by attorney Brad King and approved by the board. Edwards then asked who authorized King to delete the policy. No one answered.

Puryear was elected on a 6-3 vote, with Sturdifen, Edwards and Garner voting for Sturdifen.

Tanner next nominated Bullock for vice chair, and Garner nominated Tanner after expressing concern that Bullock’s duties as an officer with the Virginia School Board Association would prevent him from giving his full attention to Mecklenburg County. Tanner declined the nomination and Bullock was re-elected with the same 6-3 majority.

The third contested election was for a representative to the Regional Governor’s School board, a position currently held by Garner. Bullock nominated Debra Smiley, but Tanner nominated Garner. Garner prevailed on a 5-4 vote. Smiley was named the alternate.

Without any objections, Sharon Shuttleworth was tapped to serve as clerk of the School Board, and Dr. Melody Hackney and Tracey Rogers were named as designees capable of signing official correspondence in the absence of the Superintendent.

The final reorganization step called for trustees to approve the Code of Conduct for School Board members. Both Sturdifen and Edwards voted against approval.

In other business, the trustees approved the payment of the bills, with Edwards voting ‘no” and Sturdifen abstaining.

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So lets see if I read this right, Glen Edwards and Dale Sturdifen do not get their nominations so they pout and vote against things that benefit the children. Yeah, we really want them to lead the school board. LOL


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