The following is to The Pilot's front-page editorial. It was written before the mass ­resignations were announced Saturday.

The abrupt and indefensible firing of Moore County Schools Superintendent Bob Grimesey by a cabal of five school board members stinks worse than a chicken truck on a hot day.

The perpetrators who caused such mayhem and such loss of faith in the community at large should resign. Failing that, the newly elected board members who voted for this tremendous waste of time, talent and treasure should be subjected to a recall election.

Seldom in anyone’s memory has any local action ignited such a firestorm of universal condemnation. All you have to do is read the endless stream of outraged comments on The Pilot’s website. Or listen to the hundreds of angry residents who poured out for Thursday morning’s school board meeting in Carthage — so many that the fire marshal felt compelled to move the whole operation to the much larger commissioners’ chambers in the old county courthouse. And even those 400 seats all but overflowed.

Young and old, black and white, northern Moore and southern, parents and teachers, Republicans and Democrats — all were totally united in their disgust. It’s hard to imagine how this board can re-establish trust with its nearly 1,800 employees and 12,755 students, many of whom wore black on Friday in a display of solidarity for Grimesey; the Board of Commissioners, who will meet Wednesday to consider dramatic new restrictions on their spending authority; Sandhills Community College, whose convivial president John Dempsey wants to be the John Hancock of a recall election; or the legions of parents, grandparents, volunteers and other school supporters whose full faith and goodwill have been shattered.

For these five school board members, there’s a different set of 3 R’s: resign, reinstate or recall.

Even worse, now that the dirty deed has been done, all of the questionable details of secret meetings and romantic encounters are coming to light.

Grimesey’s dismissal was long in the plotting. And the five-member alliance was aided — in part — by the personal romantic relationship between board members Becky Carlson and Ben Cameron. That certainly calls into question their judgment and the integrity of the 5-3 vote to fire Grimesey.

How did the Gang of Five coordinate all of their activities without violating the North Carolina Open Meetings Law? Inquiring minds would like to know.

To all appearances, the only people who were unhappy with Grimesey’s job performance in the first place were a few educrats in the system headquarters — particularly some in high positions whose feet he held to the fire and whose contracts he limited to one year as a way of motivating them to share in his vision for the school system’s operations. (Talk about a sense of entitlement. Most of the working public would saw off a body part for a one-year contract.)

Particularly open to question is the role of Associate Superintendent Kathy Kennedy, who is close friends with board members Kathy Farren and Laura Lang. There would appear to have been some well-poisoning going on in the central office, which is simply unacceptable — and a recipe for sending morale into the basement. Kennedy’s effectiveness as an administrator has been so severely tarnished by the sad episode that she too would be wise to tender her resignation.

Farren and Lang are two of the five board members who voted for getting rid of Grimesey. The other three are Carlson, Cameron and Sue Black. Voting against were Bruce Cunningham, Charles Lambert and Ed Dennison. It is worth noting that the yes-no vote split along gender lines — except for Cameron, who is involved in a relationship with Carlson.

Cunningham deserves praise for the way he presided over the tense various phases of this meeting. The entire misbegotten procedure obviously left a bad taste in his mouth. But in his role as chairman, he did what he had to do to preserve order and keep things moving — often over yells and catcalls and boos and shaking fists.

Among the more maddening aspects of this miscarriage of justice is the fact that those who so blithely deprived Grimesey of his job gave no reasons whatsoever for doing so. Clearly, they are limited by law in what they can say. But their attitude of “trust us, we know what we’re doing” just doesn’t cut it. Their accounts of his supposed sins, gathered from back-channel sources, have proven untrue or exaggerated.

Now that this terrible damage has been done, where do we go from here?

If the five choose not to resign, then the rest of us should pursue the avenue suggested by an outraged John Dempsey, president of Sandhills Community College, who stood to suggest that a recall procedure be pursued.

This much seems clear: If those who perpetrated this action think Thursday’s raging storm will blow over soon, they are surely wrong in that as well.

(64) comments

Disgusted

Your laughably infantile first line of this editorial is also indefensible. "Stinks worse than a chicken truck on a hot day"?! How long did it take you to come up with that one? Do you really think your readers are such imbeciles that they need analogies that are so idiotic in order to understand? Why didn't you throw in some outhouse wisecracks as well? It is you, along with the board members, who should resign your position, because you clearly are in over your head when it comes to journalism. I hope you weren't educated in Moore County schools, or Mr. Grimesey has A LOT of work to do. Granted, I have seen such writing in editorials before, but then the author graduated... first grade. Please, give your readers a little more respect next time. But tell us more about the romantic relationship between the board members - you might get that dream job at the National Enquirer.

Why doesn't Dr Bob waive his confidentiality rights. I'd like to hear why the board did what they did. How can anyone possibly say it wasn't justified when they don't know the cause?

nunya Biz

Agreed, this all looks like a 1930s horror movie to me with the angry mob with torches and pitchforks after the monster in the castle.
Ready to hang him on just his looks yet has no idea why they are even there.

Apparently nobody even has a clue why the BOE 5 did what they did.

If it were me and I was in Grimesey's position I would come out and say exactly what the BOE had against him, because if you don't it appears to me the BOE 5 actually had a valid reason.

h bogart

Lang and Carlson, if still on the board, will have a say in who will be the new temp board members, this can't be. These bullies, need to go.

Kathy Kennedy just got her doctorate, that was why Dr Bob had to go, she wasn't able to get the job before because she didnt have one

Stillhope

It's even harder to reconsider your actions when you're good friends with the woman who appears to be at the center of this shite storm -- Kathy Kennedy. Leaving Laura Lang on the BOE is not an option. If she does not resign, continue with the recall petition and vote to remove Ms. Lang and Ms. Cameron in November. Let's hope Ms. Kennedy will be packing her office shortly and headed back where she came from!

Diane Jones

I do not know Becky Cameron but have spoken with Laura Lang on several occasions. She impresses me as some one that takes her position seriously. I would hope that In light on the Information that has come out over the last few days that she would reevaluate the basis for her original decision. Could she have been led or influenced by persons close to Ms Kennedy? Could any of the information come from someone who has lost position or power due to personnel decisions that have occurred or were planned to occur as a result of Dr Grimesey's leadership? There is nothing wrong with admitting that you made a bad decision based on erroneous information, but it does take courage.

Becky Cameron

Everyone, please be careful not to mix first and last names. It is Ms. Becky CARLSON and Mr. Ben CAMERON to whom you are referring.

Dale Frye

This is the same kind of quality and class that I saw in Dr. Grimesey when I voted along with others to hire him last year. It is passed down. Great caring and character!!

Sarah Grimesey

First, I'd like to thank you all for the support of my father. From what I've read in the comments of the "Parents for Moore" facebook page and here on The Pilot, I am grateful for your kindness and for your appreciation. In response to this out pouring, I strongly encourage the community to remember children. I've been the child of an administrator; I know what it is like to have my parent defamed publicly for making an unpopular decision. I hope that if any of the board members have children or grandchildren, that they are being looked after so that they are not hurt too much by their parent's decisions.

Just to play devils advocate for a minute. The headline says "firing indefensible". That may very well be true but how do we know? I don't know any of those involved but without details how is it known that it was not justified? Is Dr Grimsley fighting it? If not, why not? Why would the board invite such a sheet storm that they must have known was coming if they didn't feel the action was warranted? If it is not justified he should be reinstated as quickly as possible if he still wants the job. Please hold your fire, just thinking out loud.

sosad4kids

The BOE member that stated that last year was one of the best test results years that MCS has had, do they think that it was because of their "wonderful" leadership and the one that they support? I think not. Our students thrive because of the wonderful teachers who work tirelessly for their students under the pressure to perform or face losing their jobs. Look at how many of these beloved teachers have left their calling due the pressure, stress, and unobtainable goals placed upon them. Maybe now that everything is coming to light, we might get some of them back. We can only hope.

Tony Keith

Well said "sosad"....My wife was one of the ones railroaded out last year at MCS....She is a Third grade teacher who was forced to resign under this oppressive administration and "senior administrators" one of which is under fire at this moment. Not to mention the HR head who IGNORED Test results and a written rebuttal (stating it didn't matter what she had written the principal didn't want her at her school) only to pay attention to the countless LIES and IMPLICATIONS fabricated by the principal of her school....another Kk pawn.

As it turned out, when last year's test scores EVASS came back at the beginning of this school year .(To late for MCS since she had already been forced out and had moved on to teach in another County.) My wife was the ONLY one of four Third grade teachers who met and exceeded growth during last year with the highest number of kids to pass EOG's. All this according to the EVAAS system. The principal made the announcement during a staff meeting about last years performance. My wife now teaches at an adjoining school system where they value QUALITY, CARING and DEDICATED teachers....a place where principals and administrators trust their teaching staff.

Maybe one day things will change for the better at MCS....She left with a heavy heart for her children last year as well as some of the dedicated staff that she left behind to weather this hurricane. Who knew that the arrogant agenda of Kk and her pawns would've pushed things to a boiling point so quickly.

As a 4th+ generation and resident of Moore County and local businessman, our family continually prays for peace, resolve and constructive growth for our kids, their parents, teachers and staff. We're thankful to see the support for Dr. Bob and our schools. Stay strong and persevere.

Sharon Turner

I feel for your wife, Sir. I spent most of my career in an adjoining county where the NCAE participation is strong. After moving to this county I was appalled at the system of silence and bullying teachers endure as they are afraid for their jobs all of the time. I made sure to pay my NCAE dues and if teachers in this county would join, the good old boy system can be brought down, especially since tenure is out the window.

Dwight Kidd

Three down, two to go and then to the Central Office - - - -

rebecca myrick

thanks to the pilot for putting it out there. the foolish five have no idea what they have started. they are selfish, power hungry people who will reap what they have sown. they all five have no integrity, and will never be trusted again by citizens of this county. out with the bums.

TED MCCORMICK

I WAS EDUCATED, BEFORE INTEGRATION, IN THE EAST SOUTHERN PINES SCHOOL SYSTEM. SO, I DO KNOW WHAT SEGREGATION AND HATE LOOKS LIKE. AND EVEN THOUGH, THIS IS NOT A RACE ISSUE PER SE, IT IS ABOUT ONE GROUP( BOE) USING THEIR ELECTIVE POWER TO BULLY THE LESS POWERFUL(DR. BOB), OR SO THEY THINK. OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS REPRESENTING MOORE COUNTY ARE TAKING ACTION TO CORRECT THIS GROSS INJUSTICE. CITIZENS ARE WRITING LETTERS AND TALKING TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND TO THEM, I SAY HOORAY. BUT THE MOST POWERFUL ACTION TO CORRECT THIS ISSUE IS NOT BEING USED AND THAT IS AN ORGANIZED PROTEST MARCH. IT WORKED FOR DR. KING AGAINST INJUSTICE, AND WILL WORK NOW, IF WE JUST USE OUR RIGHT TO PROTEST, PEACEFULLY.

Mike Smith

I recently moved to Moore County and I never have seen this level of overwhelming public outrage and consensus about an unjust ousting of a public official who's role is so very important to the children of and the growth of the area. If nothing comes of this, it will be a (further) embarrassment to our area and most certainly cause for many to consider moving or reconsidering moving to the area. What a shame.

Sammy Kidd

This whole thing has "conflict of interest" written all over it.

sosad4kids

I believe that the BOE 5 were acting on behalf of a senior staff member who has been named several times in comments. Unless things have changed, when a MCS employee signs a contract, they also sign a "No compete" clause which means that they may not offer their services for pay during the duration of their contract. If this is still true, doesn't having your own educational consulting firm violate this clause? Has anyone checked this out?

no name

I was just about to ask the same.

Kristin Garner

Yes, I've been wondering this as well. It has always seemed to me that Kathy Kennedy's outside consulting job was a conflict of interest.

sosad4kids

.

Susan O'Connell

Thank you to the Pilot newspaper-this is good investigative journalism!

Kristin Garner

I completely agree. Thank you Pilot staff for the honesty and frankness of this editorial. This needed to be said and it did not need to be "sugar coated."

Stillhope

I am so pleased to see this stance by The Pilot. I've been critical in the past of its lack of coverage of events that do not put the area in such a positive light. However, they've pulled out all the stops in their focus on this ridiculous string of events. They are to be congratulated for this editorial. It is spot on! Let us hope the Gang of Five resign post haste. However, that is a doubtful outcome because arrogant people don't usually move out of the way to allow their mistakes to be rectified. If they don't resign, let's all support a recall drive. I will be happy to obtain signatures anytime, anywhere to get these uncaring, underhanded people out of our public lives and to return the county's school system to a positive path!

Ann Hopkins

Just can't get the smell of that chicken truck out of my nose.... or the sound of that whip crackin' outta my head.

Allison McKenzie

WOW!! Just WOW!! I appreciate the honesty of this article! The Pilot has been able to speak the truth and spread the community's disgust by this incredibly outrageous act!!!

Bob Smith

Perhaps Farren and all of her BOE friends should go back to her TCBY frozen yogurt days. Politics people, thats the name of the game...

Michelle Lynch

And I just found a reason to start up a subscription to The Pilot. Thank you for one of the best editorials I've read in a long time!

Teresa McManus

Well said

Penny Priest

Thank you for shedding light and getting to the bottom of the crazy, unfortunate situation. The "gang of 5" has got to go..out the door..
.The citizens of Moore County, especially our kids, deserve better. If possible, please attend Wednesday's meeting. Our voices have to be heard and a change has to be made!!

Wyatt

If you think Larry Upchurch is going to fire anyone you had better think again. He is one of the good old boys. He is going to do everything the board ask him to do. I think we need someone with integrity and someone that truly care about the children. That person of course is Dr. Bob. Who is going to hire the principals for Union Pines and Pinecrest. Sad-Sad

Tom Bernett

This is a gross misuse of power for blatant self-serving reasons by public officials who have used their office for personal agendas without regard for their sworn duty.

As a citizen and a taxpayer, I call for the immediate resignation of the board members in question, and the reinstatement of the Superintendent. If the board members refuse resignation, then I call for the formation of a citizens' committee to investigate applicable state statutes for the purpose of taking legal action against the board members in question.

This travesty must not be allowed to stand unchallenged.

Mike Miller

Hear, hear!!!

Teresa McManus

True leadership is needed to replace these clowns, I hope for good people who listen and care to step forward following in the footsteps of one of my heroes, Bruce Cunningham.

It is clear from all of the comments and views expressed that the citizens of Moore County would appreciate all five bullies on the school board voluntarily step down: please do the right thing, make this easier and agree to step aside. Or we will find another way: bottom line, our assessment is you are out and we look forward to welcoming new leadership to the school board.

Ruby Goodman

I agree with dfuquay: "Apologize, give him a 10% raise for pain and suffering, and let him go back to work. Then, all 5 of you resign immediately. That rights the wrong." Show courage. That would be a lesson our students could take from this debacle. Great reporting, Pilot. Excellent opininon piece, John Nagy. Keep up the good work. Hold our elected officials accountable. Moore County students and teachers deserve a higher standard.

Walter B Bull

Great editorial position Pilot. This is Moore County's 9-11 and we all need to focus on the future for our kids. We don't need bad policy that is made in the backyard sandbox.

How Bruce Cunningham, Charles Lambert and Ed Dennison missed all this in the making I don't know and the Editor's comments about open meeting laws is right on target.

John Smith

3000 people died and thousands of soldiers died defending this country after the greatest tragedy of our generation. Your comment equating a personnel matter of which you have no actual knowledge is as reprehensible as one can imagine.

Conrad Meyer

Get out your brooms - time to sweep out the disgusting five!

Don Fuquay

Just call an emergency meeting of the BOE and offer the man his job back. Apologize, give him a 10% raise for pain and suffering, and let him go back to work. Then, all 5 of you resign immediately. That rights the wrong.

Erbschloe

In the Internet age, county level school administrators couldn't be more irrelevant. Any attempt to frame events as "a step back" are really just "looking back".

Get your kids a passport and an iPad.

Walter B Bull

There may be a way to arrange for a recall election so that this matter is handled before all the momentum generated with Dr. Bob careens off the road.
Larry Upchurch, a nice but pedestrian executive, is a rather obvious place holder and Ms. Kennedy is probably measuring the superintendent's office for new drapes.
Calling the five board members names and doing nothing is if there may be a legal challenge to recall is not an option for the really involved citizen.

E mail your support for recall to the five commissioners, Jamie Boles and Dr. John Dempsey. The people have to continue to be loud and demanding.This is too important for the kids and this county's future.

Dwight Kidd

Can our Rep. in Raleigh get a special bill or law passed that would allow a recall election to be held before the MSB hold another meeting. Hopefully Dr.Upchurch will fire from the top down several layers of folks that are not friends of Moore County teachers and students. The citizens of this county are fed up with this fiasco.

Kristin Garner

Carlson and Cameron's relationship is definitely worth mentioning! It gives insight on the way these two members vote. It's a shame their children may be negatively affected by their actions; however, they are public officials and they should have thought about this prior to executing very poor judgement. I personally don't think their relationship is the worst thing, it's their poor character,lack of professionalism, and personal bias in regards to Dr. Bob's firing that is appalling. If they do not want their children upset, they need to be better role models. The staff at the Pilot is just doing their job, reporting the facts.

Karl Williams

I appreciate the frankness stated here. It is indeed a shame that 5 people have colluded to the extent of ignoring the voices of so many concerned citizens and without any regard to the resulting collateral damage. This fiasco may well set the county back several years. Resignations would be a step in the right direction, but I don't see that happening. In fact, they do have enough voting clout to foist their favorite aspiring superintendent upon the county before they're finished. They may be just getting started.

Sandy Marshall

I have been reading (on Facebook) tonight comments from teachers across the state and to a person, they are aghast at the actions of the Moore County gang of five. Most had seen the video of Dr. Bob's speech at the end of the meeting and one of them made a great comment .... "this is the kind of educator I always wanted to work with. Forget the rest of the junk, it is about the kids."
I do not have kids in school in Moore County, but I pay taxes and have been proud of the reputation of our schools. How sad this is even for those of us on the fringes.

Barbara Brady

"In all this mess...I worry about the children once again. A child will read this and find out personal information about his/her mother's romantic relationships."

It's a shame and very sad that a total stranger would be more concerned about these two people's children than the couple themselves.

Kristin Garner

You think their kids don't know about their relationship, when most of the town knows? It's not like they hare tried to hide it very well. Give me a break!

Elizabeth Linsey

My question is: Does Dr. Bob have legal recourse? Especially since in his own words: "I still don't know what I did (to get fired)," What can he/we do to get him reinstated?

Garner

We as citizens of Moore County have the right to know why the Superintendent was fired. We are essentially the employers of the BOE since we elect them! So did they do our bidding or their personal bidding in this situation? Looks very personal to me when you state that an upper "educrat" is personal friends with two board members and two others are having a romance! This is ludicrous! And taxpayers want to know why teachers are leaving Moore County to teach elsewhere? I think that answer is pretty clear.

Louis Gregory

I am disappointed and concerned. This should of never happened. I was hoping the board would have listened to the people before they dismissed Dr. Grimesey. Yes, I agree with the editorial . . . "this will not blow over soon."

Deborah Williams

Sounds like the gang of 5 needs to talk to a lawyer because I smell legal action coming. Then ALL the juicy details will come out for the world to see.

Concerned110

Can anyone from Cumberland Co shed light on KKs departure from that office? have heard lots of rumors but not much fact.

Concernedrent

It should also be said that a few of the Gang of 5 have been using their position to get extra tickets for their children's graduation at Pinecrest. Each graduating student gets 4 tickets but board members are asking for 8 to 12. Is this fair?

Bellmore

In all this mess...I worry about the children once again. A child will read this and find out personal information about his/her mother's romantic relationships. I support teachers and especially Dr. Bob. However, I support children more. I get what you're saying...I do. Please don't publicly out romantic relationships when children are in the home. This is painful for a child on so many levels. And yes...my 8th graders knew more about this than I did by 2:30 and reviewing for an upcoming EOG was impossible. As if the timing wasn't bad enough...

John Nagy Staff
John Nagy

J, normally I'd agree with you 100 percent. We didn't do this lightly or for the sake of being tawdry. The relationship in question is material to this decision Thursday and calls into question the propriety and independence of previous votes and those to come. Such a relationship is not a violation of board policy, per se, but it at the very least raises a significant question. Board members must exercise their own best, independent judgement in all decisions, and you can't say a personal romantic relationship involving two elected officials on the same board doesn't inject the possibility of cohesive and compromised voting, their assurances to the contrary. So that's why we mention that. And yes, I too have an 8th grader who was far more in tune on this than I originally.

Moco75

The level of hubris demonstrated by the Gang of Five is pathetic. They exist to serve the people of Moore County. Yet they proved today that they serve their own self interests and do the bidding of Kathy Kennedy, a Cumberland County carpetbagger. Our students and teachers deserve better...they deserve Dr. Bob.

klockamy78

Thank you for being brave enough to actually name those at fault! There are so many MCS employees who have been made to be silent for years out of fear of repercussions from the Central Office. I was beyond happy to see the staff member specifically named so the community finally knows who is at the center of not just this debacle but years of torment.

Caroline Ivey

Gutsy editorial. Appreciate the frankness! Sure clears up a few things, doesn't it? No matter what comes to light, this has been a mean-spirited, underhanded spectacle. Shame on those BOE members that have failed to conduct themselves with integrity. If a recall is a possibility, sure would be nice.

Richard Yelverton

Great read. Unfortunately Moore County has no avenue for recall of Board Members...just remember this action and speak with your vote...if the gang of five is foolish enough to run again.

Volgirl7777

Absolutely 100% agree with the statements made here. It's blatantly obvious that the infamous five have a personal agenda and care nothing about our children's education.
This is an abuse of power and they all should be booted!

nmhill

Annnnnd.. BOOM. Drop. The. Mic.

David Lambert

This just got real.

Brenda Burt

Heard thur the grape vine that 2 resigned already

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