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Wednesday December 8th

Community reacts to CHCCS Board of Education chair resignation

<p>Margaret Samuels, former chair of the board of education of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district, sits on a meeting on Friday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Lincoln Center, 750 S. Merritt Mill Rd.</p>
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Margaret Samuels, former chair of the board of education of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district, sits on a meeting on Friday, Feb. 7, 2019 at the Lincoln Center, 750 S. Merritt Mill Rd.

Margaret Samuels, chairperson of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, resigned Tuesday amid a recall effort against her, sparking varying reactions from the community and fellow board members.

Her resignation came after some CHCCS parents organized to initiate a recall election against Samuels and fellow board members James Barrett and Pat Heinrich.

Through their website, boardrecall.com, the parents allege the three board members violated board policies before and after a 4-3 board vote last September to transform Glenwood Elementary into a Mandarin dual-language magnet school.

“The charges leveled at me are baseless and without foundation,” Samuels said in her letter of resignation. “However, I have no desire to be a part of anything that takes the focus away from our students. When the behavior of adults is the leading story in any school district — we know we have a problem.”

The CHCCS parents behind the recall movement allege Samuels failed in her duty as chairperson to hold Heinrich and Barrett accountable.

“Unfortunately, Heinrich and Barrett have not publicly admitted to any policy violations nor did Samuels hold her fellow board members accountable for their actions as the board chair,” CHC Board Recall said in a statement Tuesday. “The recall was only initiated after numerous efforts by other board members and citizens failed to fully hold Heinrich and Barrett accountable.”

Barrett said Samuels’ resignation was not related to the alleged violations, but rather the motives and actions of those bringing allegations forward.

“I don’t think it’s the accusations itself, it’s the ugliness exposed and the extent people were willing to go to get their way on a vote that was decided differently than they wanted,” Barrett said.

Barrett said he does not believe he violated board policy and was not restricting information to supporters of the Mandarin dual-language program.

“It was someone that reached out to me, that clearly shared my point of view on the issue, but I’ve been willing to talk to anybody that wants to reach out — I’ve never been shy about talking to people on all sides of all issues,” he said.

At a Jan. 24 meeting, school board member Rani Dasi, who voted against the Mandarin track, said the released documents hindered her trust of other board members.

“As a resort of what we’ve learned from these topics, I do not feel safe sharing information with some board members, and I am concerned about the impact for our teachers and staff and how this board behavior may compromise their willingness to communicate with the board,” she said.

Riza Redd, a spokesperson for CHC Board Recall, said in an email that 7,500 physical signatures are required to initiate a recall election for each board member. She said she does not have data on the number currently collected.

The CHCCS Board of Education voted Joal Broun as the new chairperson at a meeting Thursday night. Following the announcement, Broun acknowledged how valuable the former chair was to the board and said her work was appreciated and that she will be missed. 

Jeff Nash, executive director of community relations for CHCCS, said he is not sure what the board will decide to do to fill the vacancy.

"It is up to the board to appoint someone to fill the vacancy," he said in an email. "However, being this close to an election, they may choose to run with just six members until November."

@Ryan_Smooth

city@dailytarheel.com

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