HAMLET — Richmond County’s school board named Dr. Cindy Goodman interim superintendent on Thursday. Goodman has served as assistant superintendent to Dr. George Norris, who retires June 30.
Goodman brings 29 years of experience in education to her new role. She began her career as a teacher, and gradually ascended to the ranks of assistant principal, principal and member of a variety of statewide boards.
“I applied for the position,” Goodman said. “With my extensive experience and background in education, I feel I am a strong candidate for superintendent. In the interim, immediate challenges the district faces is getting a budget, and of course, we have to wait on the state for that. It’s always a challenge to recruit and retain good teachers. Overall, we have a lot of good things going on in Richmond County Schools, and we will continue to work hard and keep our focus on the students.”
Goodman is married to state Rep. Ken Goodman, who is serving his second term in the North Carolina House.
Four county Board of Education members elected in May were sworn in during Thursday’s meeting. Newcomers Don Greene and Bobbie Sue Ormsby join incumbents Joe Richardson and Irene Aiken. The four were sworn in by Clerk of Court Vickie Daniel and then signed their contracts, which Daniel notarized in the board’s presence.
Aiken nominated board Chairman Wiley Mabe for another term. Only Jerry Ethridge opposed the nomination, and the board approved Mabe’s appointment.
Aiken and Ormsby were both nominated for the vice chairmanship.
The board was asked to vote by show of hands as each nominee’s name was called. Aiken received three votes including her own and Ormsby received two votes, also including her own.
Mabe reminded the board that there must be at least four votes in order to approve a nomination. He asked again for a show of hands and called each nominee’s name. When the second vote produced identical results, Mabe called on board attorney George Crump III to break the stalemate.
“This is democracy at its core,” Crump said. “Your board policy is to follow Robert’s Rules of Order. You also have a policy that members have to vote, one way or another, up or down. Policy 23:42 states a board member must vote on all issues unless there is a conflict of interest. It’s every board member’s duty to vote. If any would recuse himself, he should stay on the record and state the reason.”
Mabe then asked for any board members who wished to recuse themselves from the vote to state their reasons.
“I’m abstaining because I cannot in good faith support either of those candidates,” Joe Richardson said. “I recuse myself.”
“I don’t like the way politics have been played out in the past, and I recuse myself,” said Ethridge.
Mabe asked the board to vote a final time by show of hands, and the results remained the same. Irene Aiken was then approved as vice chairman based on a majority of existing votes. She was asked if she had any comments.
“I’m shocked that my colleagues don’t feel they can support me, that they feel that way,” Aiken said. “But I will continue to serve the board as I have done.”
After the meeting adjourned, Aiken said that she wasn’t sure why fellow board member Joe Richardson refrained from voting for the vice chair position.
“I always thought we all worked well together, up until today,” Aiken said. “If there’s ever been a problem between us, I never knew it. I’m shocked.”
Richardson explained that his decision was not personal.
“I simply feel it is time for a change in leadership of the board,” he said. “She’s been the vice chairman for about two years now, and I just feel it’s time for someone new.”
A light luncheon was served after the meeting, and friends and relatives of the newly sworn-in board members who attended the ceremony were invited to join in.
Reach reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-997-3111, ext. 15.