Surprise Move by Craven County School Board

Watchdog Report

Surprise Move by Craven County School Board

In a surprise move in a work session held early one morning instead of the evening session where citizens are allowed to petition the Board and without a public announcement that the filling of a vacancy on the Board would be taken up, the Board of Education voted to fill the vacancy by appointing the incumbent member who was just soundly defeated in an election to continue to serve until the election in 2018.

It had been announced that the Board would consider the method by which a replacement for the seat vacated by Sarah Benischek would be filled.  In fact, I had asked the Board Chairman, Carr Ipoch, how the vacancy would be filled and was told that he thought it would be done by taking applications from interested people and that they would be considered as a new employee might be decided upon.  That would have been fair and good approach had it happened, but  as I said earlier, it did not. 

First, it was obvious in the last election that the voters wanted a change.  In the case of the election for Craven County Board of Education in District 7, a whopping 60% of the voters wanted Sarah Benischek  over the incumbent.  To then seat the incumbent to fill the vacancy is diametrically opposed to the will of the majority.

Sarah Benischek was one of the “Back-to-Basics” candidates who ran on a slate of change.  Sarah is a young Marine wife who home schools her children.  She stated that one of her goals was to improve the school system to make it good enough that she and all parents would want to send their children to be educated in the public schools.  Sarah is very conservative.  Although several profess to be conservative, the members of the Board of Education are much more liberal than Sarah is.

As she made clear during the campaign, Sarah is against Common Core which is, all claims to the contrary not withstanding, an unconstitutional federal program of indoctrinating children in school in a unpatriotic and  socialist way.  Here is her statement given in the CCTA vetting process, “Common Core is a travesty.  Under Common Core, cursive writing isn’t taught, and American history is now more than ever subject to one’s own interpretation and revision, and the big government social indoctrination is deeply concerning.”  CAN YOU IMAGINE A CURRENT MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION STATING THAT?


Kim Smith, a member of the Board, was quoted in the Sun Journal as saying, “It takes every bit of discretion away from the voters, that’s picking someone we like and who likes us, and who thinks like us.”  And THAT, my friends, is exactly what they elected to do.  They essentially said, “TO HECK WITH WHAT THE VOTERS WANTED IN THE LAST ELECTION!”


The process described by the then Chairman, Carr Ipoch, would have given a chance for citizens to recruit someone to apply to be appointed to the Board who thinks about public education more like Sarah Benischek.  In fact, an effort to do so was under way.  It’s pretty obvious that THE BOARD DID NOT WANT THAT TO HAPPEN!

Respectfully submitted,

Hal James, Chairman, CCTA’s Watchdog Committee

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