Friday, April 19, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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No, Patsy, you don’t get to decide who your replacement will be or how he/she will be chosen

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We’re beginning to wonder whether our praise of school board member Patsy Simpson a few weeks ago when she announced her forthcoming resignation may have been premature, based on her odd and irrational behavior at the two most recent school board meetings.

Last week, it was picking a loud and counterproductive fight with county commissioner Bill Lashley over the methodology the commissioners may use in choosing how much to give/allocate/designate (Simpson disagreed with the chairman’s use of the word “give” to describe the process) to the school system from certain pots of money for which the county is the designated caretaker.

This week, Simpson was on a high horse, trying to mandate to fellow board members to establish – right now, at this week’s school board work session – the criteria they should use to select her replacement.

She felt so strongly about it, she warned board members that she would not relinquish her seat until she was satisfied with the criteria that board members would use to decide on her successor.

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No, dear Patsy, that’s not the way the vacancy law works.

The remaining members of the school board – and any other elected public body – can decide on its own both who they want to appoint, as well as the criteria, if any, they want to use in making such a selection.

Patsy clearly wants Seneca Rogers to fill her seat, and she’s said as much.  And that’s her prerogative.

She can want anyone her heart may desire.

But she can have absolutely nothing to do with making that selection.  Nor can she have anything to do with trying to box the other members into a corner over how they will decide the selection.

Her “threat” is that she will not give up her seat “until I get to know the criteria that this board has established” for selecting her replacement, she told fellow board members.

That’s fine.

No one’s making her leave.

She can remain a school board member through the end of the term to which she was elected, which ends in December 2024.

That is,  presuming that she continues to live in Alamance County.

She has stated an intention to move with her husband to family land in Virginia.

She claimed this week that she was being “excluded” from the process of selecting her replacement.

Yes, that’s right and appropriate.

No elected official – not Patsy Simpson on the school board nor any other official on any other board or council – gets to influence the selection of her/his successor.

By definition, a successor is chosen only after there is an actual vacancy to fill.

So, if Patsy wants to stay, so be it.

But she’s not entitled to try to dictate, demand, or even influence, who will succeed her, how that person is selected, or what criteria, if any, the board members – either collectively or individually – will use to make that decision.

On the one hand, school board members – or other public bodies – could have established a procedure on how they want successors chosen when a vacancy occurs.

But, in most cases, they are not bound by such parameters – and in the case of the school board, which hasn’t had occasion to fill a vacancy in 15 years, there are no guidelines.  And state law, which allows maximum flexibility, would trump any board’s adopted guidelines anyhow.

We hate to see Patsy’s 15-year reputation of service and her legacy tarnished by such an inglorious  flame-out as we’ve witnessed these past two weeks.

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