Public Attacks on MCS Employees by a Sitting School Board Member Need to Stop
At the July Moore County Board of Education meeting, David Hensley spent a lot of time accusing former MCS Military Liaison Rollie Sampson of planning a field trip for military connected students that Hensley characterized as a "big leftist hoo-yah for LGBTQ rights."
There's three problems with Hensley's unprovoked attack on Ms. Sampson:
Ms. Sampson's last day with the district was May 30, 2022. The program schedule for the conference wasn't even made available until AFTER Ms. Sampson was no longer employed by MCS.
The content that Mr. Hensley objected to isn't even available to students. It is a professional development seminar for educators and health professionals and it is NOT mandatory for any MCS participant to attend.
Mr. Hensley should not be calling out ANY MCS employee or former employee out by name at an open Board of Education meeting - especially considering that when he has done so, the allegations he has made have been proven to be completely without merit.
I am not going to spend any time discussing the first two items on the above list. "The Pilot" has already done a fine job debunking Mr. Hensley's false allegations against Ms. Sampson, as has Ms. Sampson herself. "The Pilot" article covering Mr. Hensley's comments are linked below, as are several posts from Ms. Sampson's official BoEd campaign page. You may each read the links and make your own decisions based on the real information provided.
Instead of rehashing what has already been written about in other media, I want to focus on Mr. Hensley and his comfort in attacking MCS staff by name and/or position title at public meetings. I can think of three instances off the top of my head where Hensley made unfounded accusations against MCS employees DURING public BoEd meetings.
Of course, we have Mr. Hensley's probably false statements regarding Ms. Sampson and the field trip to Washington, DC for the Student 2 Student National Training Seminar. Mr. Hensley prattled on and on and ON about Ms. Sampson's non-existent role in planning the agenda and pushing the trip as a "wolf in sheep's clothing."
During that same meeting, Hensley also accused new MCS Superintendent Dr. Tim Locklair of attempting to "usurp the authority of the Board" by updating procedures for challenging books and materials in MCS. I will point out here that the procedure revisions have been public since at least June 20, 2022 (when I first saw it), the MCS BoEd Policy Committee discussed the changes at their June 22 meeting, and the changes became effective on July 1. ALL of that was public knowledge, yet Hensley chose NOT to discuss any concerns he had with Dr. Locklair before the July BoEd meeting. Why? I can only assume it was so he could accuse Dr. Locklair and members of the Policy Committee of acting "in secret" on his social media page on the day before the meeting and rebuke and accuse Mr. Locklair in public.
Back in March of this year, renovations on several school gyms were held up after Mr. Hensley questioned the integrity of MCS Director of Operations John Birath at a public meeting. Mr. Hensley insinuated, based on unfounded accusations from a local radio personality, that Mr. Birath acted unethically by recommending the BoEd award the contract for the renovations to a company for which Mr. Birath had previously worked. Mr. Hensley demanded the process of recommending the contract he "looked into" even though the Board Attorney assured him there was no conflict of interest. Of course, once he "looked into" it, he found no impropriety whatsoever and the contracts were awarded as Mr. Birath originally recommended. Mr. Hensley never bothered to apologize to Mr. Birath - at least no in public.
Three examples of three public attacks that never should have happened. If Mr. Hensley truly had genuine concerns about any of these situations (which I seriously doubt) he could have asked that they be addressed in closed session. That would have been the appropriate venue to discuss matters related to the performance of Moore County employees. Instead, he chose to make provably false accusations against these dedicated professionals at open meetings in an act of pure political grandstanding.
Rollie Sampson was not even employed by MCS when the agenda for the field trip seminar was announced, therefore, it would have been impossible for her to "champion" the program.
The revisions for the procedures challenging material in MCS libraries and classrooms was not done in secret. The proposed revisions were public before the policy committee met and reviewed them on June 22. Mr. Hensley had ample time and opportunity to address any concerns with Dr. Locklair well before they took effect on July 1, and certainly before the July BoEd meeting.
John Birath never had any conflict of interest and his recommendation was found to be proper in every way.
The Moore County Board of Education has a long standing policy against public speakers to the Board naming MCS employees in their comments. Perhaps the Board should apply that policy to its own members.
And not for nothing, but the most troubling part of all this for me isn't even Hensley's public accusations; it's that no single other member of the Board stepped up to defend their employees against these public attacks.
MCS employees ALL deserve better.
***Commentary by Cheryl Christy. Cheryl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Link to coverage of Washington DC Field Trip:
Links to Rollie Sampson's response:
Link to coverage of John Birath attack:
Link to coverage of procedure revisions for challenging books: