(Carolina Journal) After months of complaining about being bullied by her colleagues on the Buncombe County Board of Education, Lisa Baldwin has enlisted the assistance of a state lawmaker to determine whether a new board policy improperly restricts her access to public records.
The rule, adopted in June, requires board members to submit all requests for information to the superintendent of schools for “discretionary decisions” on allocating staff time. Requests submitted within 48 hours of a meeting also must go to the school board chairman for consultation with the superintendent before they’re granted.
“It’s unlawful, I think. It strips me of my rights not only as a board member but as a private citizen,” and interferes with her ability to gather information she needs to make a fully informed vote, Baldwin said.
“I’ve referred that to the [Attorney General’s] Office” for a ruling, said state Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, after Baldwin contacted him about the policy.
The situation in Buncombe County is not isolated. Other North Carolina school boards that have contentious relationships among members have attempted to limit access to information from members the majority may view as gadflies or nuisances. The trade association representing school boards has worked with many boards in an attempt to defuse the tensions, but critics say the association’s approach also can stifle dissenting views.
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