If the story of what has happened to Moore County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bob Grimesey in the past couple of weeks were a screenplay, the first big dramatic turning point, or “plot point,” would have come 14 days ago, on the night of June 1.
Picture a “routine” meeting of the school board, after which the superintendent and board members adjourn for a bite of dinner.
Then, while the board reconvenes for a closed-door session for a couple of matters (really only one, it turned out), Grimesey goes to his office across the hall to get some work done. At some point, the board quietly departs the building, leaving him to lock up and set the security alarm.
“Alarm” is the appropriate word three hours later. In this plot, that’s when Grimesey receives a text message out of the blue from his attorney, telling him that the board wants him gone.
A Story With Some Twists
Whether in a movie script or in all-too-real life, that is a hell of a way to treat a guy. It helps explain why there was such a firestorm of outrage the following Thursday, when a five-member board majority voted to fire Grimesey — and why four of those five quickly felt compelled to resign, after which the superintendent got his job back.
For a fascinating reconstruction of this whole unsavory story, read the account that begins on the front page of today’s issue of The Pilot.
This much now seems crystal clear: While the dismissal of Grimesey came as quite a surprise to most of us, it resulted from a movement that had been quietly unfolding for a couple of months. And it is clearer than ever that those involved were not motivated so much by concern about Grimesey’s conduct in his job — or for what’s best for the 13,000 children in their care — as they were by murkier reasons.
Pick Replacements Carefully
The front-page story makes fascinating reading, and someday maybe somebody really will make it into a TV movie. In any case, the lessons of the past weeks make it all the more clear what needs to happen as the county moves on toward structuring a new and more satisfactory future.
Board members Sue Black, Ben Cameron, Becky Carlson and Kathy Farren did the right thing when they resigned, for their own sake as well as for that of the county and its schoolchildren. Laura Lang, the lone holdout, would do well to follow in their footsteps. Her presence on the board continues to be a distraction — and, no matter how well-intended, it seems likely to taint all future discussions.
Of utmost importance is the appointment by the remaining board of new members who hold out promise of being able to make a fresh new start and back it up with decisive, well-thought-out actions. The naming of former board member Pam Thompson is a good start. The other slots must be filled by members who are proven community leaders who bring a wide variety of talent and experience to the job, and whose motivations are beyond reproach.
In an odd way, the perpetrators of this outrage have done the rest of us a favor by helping unite the community — at least temporarily.
Now is the time to take advantage of that unity by setting new standards for board behavior in hopes of ensuring that this sorry screenplay will never have a sequel.