Good for the Moore County citizens who rose up and told the renegade school board, “No, you don’t,” after a five-person majority terminated the contract of Dr. Bob Grimesey.
The popular superintendent had been on the job for less than one year. Swift action by elected officials, both county and state, and a massive public outcry on social media resulted in the resignations of a number of board members. A new board can be constituted without an agonizing recall process. The winners were the democratic process, and the rank and file of Moore County.
The reasons for a vote to terminate were never clear to anyone outside a small group closeted in “closed session” as allowed under North Carolina law. Still, the troubles began to surface right from the beginning. At their organizational meeting on Dec. 1, 2014, it took 78 votes to break a tie between members Bruce Cunningham and Ben Cameron to name a chair of the board.
Two factions had clearly populated the new board, and it would take time for those outside the system to understand the objectives of each side. In meetings I had with Dr. Bob, it was clear he had a long-range vision for the schools. It was clear to me that he thought about the here and now in the context of anticipated needs over the next decade.
Education and the system that delivers it are the foundation of any community. The needs are very diverse for those inside the system and for those who will offer opportunities to the graduates of the system.
These graduates enter the system with youthful energy and with creative abilities that are not shackled by outdated past practices. They initiate thinking and are the bedrock of progress.
I believe that the “gang of five” lost sight of the outcome side of education and may have concentrated on the inside apparatus. All education is grappling with outcome measurement at a time when the measurement process is more art than science.
These thoughts crossed my mind as I noted the conversation between two young men who were loading grocery bags at a local supermarket. It was June 6, and one young man asked his colleague, “What was the significance of D-Day?” It was a simple question for anyone over 30 years of age to answer.
The second young man, who was dedicating his Saturday afternoon to making some money, could not respond to the question. Here was someone who went about his task with a professional attitude and a friendly demeanor toward those around him, but failed the history exam given on the spur of the moment.
The second young man may have failed a formal test in the schools, but two things were evident to me, the customer. He was a success at what he was doing for entry-level pay, and he was willing to learn even if the teacher was someone of his own age who delivered the information with a gotcha attitude and a superior smile. Well done, I say, to the educators of both young men.
At this writing, the futures of the Moore County system’s senior staff is murky and as yet undetermined. The future of Larry Upchurch’s role has yet to be defined, but Bob Grimesey’s leadership role has been restored and his authority is over the hump.
He needs to be realistic about those around him and examine opposing points of view, while at the same time recalling Harry Truman’s famous comment, “The buck stops here.” The humility and emotion that filtered through the words of Bob Grimesey during this tumultuous series of event should speak to everyone here in Moore County. Our kids are in good hands.
I do not want to wrap myself around all the politically correct terms like healing, self-esteem, diversification, self-expression and so on. Some of us would say that substituting political correctness for the school of hard knocks has not been a successful exchange. Sending the social scientists to the showers and instilling common sense while listening to the Moore County Schools and their people is a big part of the cumulative goals for our special part of the world.
Bob Grimesey said to a group of us recently that he wanted to make Moore County Schools a magnet for young families who want to raise their children here. Growth is inevitable, and that attitude will serve to support the quality of growth.
Let’s all help.