26 January 2023
GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – On Monday, Michael Logan either will go to his classroom at Southern Guilford High School to start a new semester teaching students or perhaps clean out personal belongings for his next phase in education.
But we won’t know until Thursday night whether Logan, who teaches auto mechanics at the school, will be resigning his position to join the Guilford County Board of Education.
That’s when, for a third time, the board will consider seating Logan, nominated by members of the Guilford County Republican Party from District 3 to fill out the term Patrick Tillman vacated in November when he was elected to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.
The agenda for Thursday’s board work session lists as its first item “Consideration of District 3 Vacancy,” but this may or may not be the last time that seat is considered. Despite two rejections, Logan said he is not going away.
“I will still be the candidate for this vote and, as previously stated, will be running for the seat in 2024,” Logan wrote in an emailed response to questions from WGHP.
The board resoundingly has refused to accept Logan in votes along party lines, first by a 5-2 vote late last year and then in a 6-2 vote on Jan. 10.
Democrats Deena Hayes (board chair, District 8), Bettye Jenkins (vice chair, District 7), T. Dianne Bellamy-Small (District 1), Deborah Napper (District 5), Khem Irby (District 6) and Alan Sherouse (at-large) have voted against Logan’s nomination, and Republicans Crissy Pratt (District 2) and Linda Welborn (District 4) support him. Bellamy-Small had been absent for the first vote.
School board attorney Jill Wilson of the Brooks Pierce law firm in Greensboro had said at the most recent meeting that there would be a vote on the matter oat the Jan. 26 board work session.
Neither Hayes nor Wilson responded to an email seeking an update on the situation and whether anything could change in the expected vote on Thursday.
Why he was rejected
Board members who opposed Logan, long an activist commentator at school board meetings, cited the fact that he was a teacher or that he had made derogatory posts about board members on social media. He has been called “divisive” by coworkers.
Welborn told the News & Record in Greensboro that she thought commenters were “nitpicking. The person I have seen is nothing but dedicated to his students.”
Logan has suggested board members had allowed pornographic materials in the school library and has challenged their performance. He aligned himself with a now-defunct support group called “Take Back Our Schools,” which said on its website that it is part of a “movement taking place” nationally and shared the sort of controversial claims that have turned school board meetings elsewhere into shouting matches and even death threats.
Whether anything has changed on the board that might lead to a positive vote for Logan is unclear.
“I have had no communications with Ms. Hayes or Ms. Wilson,” Logan said. “I have had communications with elected officials in District 3. There is concern of taxation without representation because of the school board’s decision to not place me. There needs to be a voice representing District 3.”
How it works
The GOP was responsible for nominating its candidate from the district – Logan was chosen from two nominations, Guilford County GOP Chair David Gleeson has said – and Wilson has indicated that the appointment of the person to fill the seat must have the approval of the majority of the existing board.
Patrick Gannon, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Board of Elections, has said that “this is not an election issue, it’s an appointment issue.” Charlie Collicutt of the Guilford County Board of Elections said his office only is involved to verify residence and affiliation.
Hayes has been clear about her position: “Until someone says I no longer have the right to vote, then I will exercise my right to vote,” she told the News & Record.
Gleeson had said legal action possibly would be taken if the school board didn’t seat the Republicans’ nominee, and he said after the most recent rejection that “we don’t think the board has the legal authority to do what they have done.”
Said Logan: “There shouldn’t be any need for litigation. The failure of the appointment by the board is an unnecessary burden on the taxpayers of Guilford County. This is very similar to the board’s refusal to open the meetings to the public.”
He still has a job
And although it’s unclear whether Logan’s obstructed path to the seat has cleared, Gabby Brown, a spokesperson for Guilford County Schools, confirmed that Logan would continue as a teacher until such time as he is seated.
“His letter of resignation was based on being seated on the board,” she said, adding that there had been no steps taken to replace him for the new semester that starts on Monday.
Auto mechanics is taught on a block schedule, so the term that ended Thursday completed the course Logan had been teaching, which he had cited as a concern back in December. There are about 92 students in that program, Brown said.
“My students and school are in limbo because of the board’s handling of this appointment,” Logan said. “My students/school shouldn’t be held in limbo.
“There appears to be a focus on my standing on students. I support all students and do not differentiate one group over another. Every student should be held accountable and all treated equal.”