Following Republican Lori Goins Clark abrupt resignation from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education, the remaining board members must now find her replacement.
Clark resigned on Aug. 29 for “personal and family” reasons, namely sending an apparently racially insensitive text message to other school board members about former interim Superintendent Kenneth Simington, who is African American.
Clark said Thursday that she has apologized profusely for a “personal and relational” mistake that some people have “misunderstood.” The remaining school board members interviewed by the Winston-Salem Journal have been quiet about the message’s specific content, but Republican board member Dana Caudill Jones said she does not condone racism of any kind.
News of Clark’s resignation was not made public until Thursday, one week after she submitted it. When asked about the unusual timing of notifying the public about Clark’s resignation, Brent Campbell, a spokesman for the school system, said Friday that there is no state statute that mandates when an organization has to notify the public about an elected official’s resignation.
Campbell again pointed to the Labor Day holiday, when schools and the administration offices were closed, and new Superintendent Angela Pringle Hairston’s first day on the job being Sept. 3 as the reasons for the delayed announcement.
“There was a holiday and then we had the installation of a new superintendent on Tuesday,” Campbell said. “The new superintendent was briefed on Wednesday and the information released first thing Thursday. At the direction of the board, we released the information ahead of the release of Tuesday’s meeting agenda.”
With Clark’s seat vacant, there are three Republicans and five Democrats serving on the school board.
Because Clark was an elected Republican member of the board, the remaining eight school board members must appoint a Republican to replace her, according to North Carolina law. The actual process for replacing Clark is solely up to the board members, Campbell said.
“In the past it has been done different ways, they have just appointed someone or they have taken applications and then conducted an interview process and then made an appointment,” he said. “It is solely up to them as to what procedure they use.”
There is not a state statute or a local school-system policy that outlines how the board should act, Campbell said.
If the board is split 4-4 on who to name, it will have to keep deliberating until it can reach a majority vote, Campbell said.
The school board expects to begin discussions on how to fill the seat and possible candidates at its meeting Tuesday..
Aaron Berlin, the chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party, said several people have expressed interest in the position.
“The Forsyth County Republican Party will expeditiously approve a recommendation for the open school board position,” Berlin said. “While we understand the school board will make the ultimate decision, since the position must be filled by a Republican, we would expect that the school board would give serious consideration to our recommendation.”
Berlin did not respond to a question about the circumstances surrounding Clark’s resignation, specifically her sending a racially insensitive text message.