The strange saga of a shuttered school still casts a shadow over Haywood County, but it may turn out that opponents of the school’s closing were exactly right.
Since it is, after all, the Haywood County School Board, I can only hope they’ve learned a lesson.
Last week it was announced that a settlement has been agreed upon in the lawsuit filed by Waynesville attorney Mark Melrose against the school board for the way it closed Central Elementary School. The settlement mandated that neither party discuss the particulars, but here’s part of the 57-word statement that was released:
The school board “does not admit it violated the law or its own policies, but agrees it would have been preferable if circumstances had permitted to have provided more advanced public notice of its intention to vote on January 11, 2016, to study the possible closure of Central Elementary School.”
The Haywood County Board of Education and local attorney Mark R. Melrose have agreed to a settlement that brings an end to his lawsuit over the shuttering of a Waynesville school that left parents shocked and some students in tears.
The building that once housed Central Elementary School may soon find new life in the private sector, if and when Haywood County Commissioners take a pass on it.
Haywood County’s Central Elementary School has been declared “surplus” school board property and will be disposed of according to proper procedures.
I hope the lawsuit by Mark Melrose against the Haywood County School System has its day in court, and was gratified last week when a judge did not stop it from proceeding.
Melrose — whose daughter was a student at Central Elementary School — has sued the school system over its decision to close the school. Judge Joe Crosswhite immediately snuffed the effort by Melrose to keep the school open through an injunction, but at this point the remainder of the suit is going forward.
By David Teague • Guest Columnist
Possibly the best perspective I’ve ever read about the importance of open government, and the public records and open meetings laws related to it, came from a speech made by a North Carolina public official. Here’s an excerpt from the speech:
Arguments were heard in Haywood County Superior Court July 19 in the matter of Melrose v. The Haywood County Board of Education, at the center of which is the closing of Central Elementary School.
A lawsuit filed by a Waynesville parent and attorney in May regarding the closure of Central Elementary School is beginning to see some action.
Haywood County Schools has been a part of my life for 24 years now — as a journalist, the husband of a teacher, and the parent of three children who were each students for 13 years in the system — and never has there been a time when I have heard more criticism about its leadership.
I sort of get it — you close a school, that’s what happens. Understandably, people get emotional. But the larger, more important issue for parents and taxpayers, though, is whether the school system is in good hands. Is there any validity to the voices critical of Superintendent Anne Garrett and the school board’s leadership through these trying times?