MoCo BoEd: Cowards to the Left, Bullies to the Right, Locklair Stuck in the Middle
Contrary to an earlier Moore Voices article (linked below), it now seems as if the One Man Book Ban Band hasn't played it's last gig in Moore County Schools after all.
As previously reported by this blog, Moore County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Tim Locklair, revised the procedures of the BoEd's policy for challenging books and other materials in June (which is completely within his authority to do). His changes became public on or about June 20, and he presented those changes to the MoCo BoEd Policy Committee on June 22. The changes went into effect on July 1.
Unfortunately, at the July Moore County Board of Education meeting, member David Hensley stopped those new procedures right in their tracks. He did so while other BoEd members remained silent as Superintendent Dr. Tim Locklair was publicly accused of illegally trying to usurp the authority of the BoEd. Dr. Locklair, faced with such a public and vicious attack with ZERO support by other Board members, backed down and rescinded the new procedures.
So now, we are back to square one.
Since the new procedures have been "put on hold," Philip Holmes continues to have the ability to to visit our public schools and use his position as a sitting member of the Moore County Board of Education to intimidate staff into removing books that he personally finds objectionable. MCS administrators continue to have the ability to willy nilly remove books, resources, and materials from students with no public scrutiny and no public debate. Worst of all, our new Superintendent has been shown to be impotent and powerless to protect our school system against a minority presence on our BoEd who are more concerned with stirring up the culture wars than in educating children.
I'm not going to rehash the whole story here. It's well documented (both on Moore Voices and on other media outlets) how we got here. A book got challenged, two committees - plus the BoEd - voted to keep the book. Philip Homes got mad, threw a childish, petulant fit, and went on a personal (and successful) book banning tour across the district. After an intense public backlash and a warning letter from the First Amendment Duke Law Center, Locklair tried to fix the problem.
But Hensley wasn't having that. And apparently, Hensley's word is law on the BoEd.
But that's not what this commentary is about.
No. This commentary is about doing what other members of the BoEd SHOULD have done, but couldn't find the courage to do.
This commentary is about defending Dr. Tim Locklair.
The MCS Superintendent had ALWAYS had the responsibility for developing procedures to implement BoEd policies. This is nothing new under Mr. Locklair's tenure, and it isn't anything former MCS Superintendents haven't done dozens of times before. Dr. Locklair did NOT overstep his authority, nor did he try to "usurp" the authority of the Board.
In addition (in spite of Mr. Hensley's completely false claims to the contrary), none of this was done in secret. The new procedures were made public DAYS before the June 22 MCS BoEd Policy Committee meeting. I saw them for the first time on June 20, simply by clicking "agenda" on the MCS BoEd webpage. The changes were presented in DETAIL to the committee (on which Philip Holmes serves) on June 22, and the BoEd was very aware they would be in effect starting July 1.
Now, if you want to go on and suspend disbelief long enough to think Holmes didn't run right out of that Policy Committee meeting and call his buddies Levy and Hensley to give them ALL the details about the new procedures, go ahead. But, even if you *do* believe that's possible, then you have to also accept that Hensley NEVER bothered to look at the PUBLIC agenda of a government body on which he serves until TWO days before the July BoEd business meeting to believe he was "surprised" by any of this.
That sounds like incompetence at best or dereliction of duty at worst.
In any event, the bottom line was that Dr. Locklair did not exceed his authority and that nothing was done in secret. And honestly, if Hensley's cheerleaders could be bothered to pay attention for half a second to what is REALLY happening in our schools rather than just blindly believing every lie that comes out of his mouth, we wouldn't be forced to deal with him in the first place.
One more thing.
Philip Holmes wants to retain the ability to intimidate staff at our schools to enforce his own world view based on his personal religion and bigotry.
Robert Levy is upset that these new procedures will make it harder to take resources away from students who don't look, think, or worship like him.
David Hensley wants the "community" to have more power regarding how to support our students than our trained teachers and educators.
Those are their objections to the new procedures.
Dr. Locklair shaped his procedures in order to protect and support his students, teachers, and staff.
The other BoEd members should at least defend him for that - if for no other reason.
It seems to be that our BoEd is more divided than ever. But that division isn't so much partisan as it is personality based.
There are cowards to left, bullies to the right, and Dr. Locklair is stuck in the middle with the rest of us.
***Commentary by Cheryl Christy. Cheryl can be reached at email@example.com.