JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Emotions were high in a heated Onslow County Schools Board of Education meeting earlier this week.
One topic causing arguments between the board and audience members was school safety. Multiple parents attended the meeting to address their concerns within the school system until they were thrown out.
“Take those people on that row. Get them out of here because I’m not having this in this forum. Take them all out, bye, see ya later,” said Bill Lanier, chairman of the Board of Education was heard saying during Tuesday’s meeting.
Joy-Lyn LaFollette was a parent interested in learning more about what’s being done to ensure student safety. She made her statement by bringing a casket in her truck bed.
“I bought it because there are a set of parents in Onslow County that had to do the same thing this year,” said LaFollete. “A student dying on our campus is unacceptable.”
The audience members were removed because some had encouraged board member Louis Rogers to speak on his thoughts of an outside agency, Rice Security and Consulting, to come in and assess the security measures in place.
“I made the first statement, which is the basis of it is to have more of a collaborative involvement in the planning process of our schools,” said Rogers. “There’s proven methods of having more of a collaborative effort with county officials, local law enforcement, community organizations, and yes, parents.”
That was until Lanier called him out of order.
“You’re not going to sit up here and present to the public that you’re all-knowing,” said Lanier during the meeting. “When we vote, we vote on the consensus. We don’t ramrod our thoughts down these people’s throats to make the public satisfied that we’re doing a glorious job.”
That raised concerns for residents in the county about the transparency within the school system.
“That’s very interesting to me, that when you start to talk about doing their jobs of holding the administration accountable that the chair would get up in arms about that. And that kind of seems to point to a bigger, deeper issue,” said Tyrus Kemp who also attended the meeting.
Although the board butted heads, Rogers said they hope to move past this.
“I think very highly of Mr. Lanier. I want everyone in Onslow County to know that I have no hard feelings with him,” said Rogers. “I’d like to see us recover from this. I know that we can get a lot of things done and that’s exactly what I’m going to move forward on.”
Shortly after, the meeting was adjourned.
WNCT did receive a statement from Onslow County Schools Public Information Officer Brent Anderson following the meeting, it reads:
“The safety and security of the OCS (Onslow County Schools) staff and students is our highest priority. To support this, district staff meet monthly with local law enforcement and other community partners to review our safety plans. These meetings include representatives from the Jacksonville Department of Public Safety, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management, and other community agencies.
“As part of our commitment to safety and security, OCS is currently working with Rice Security and Consulting (RSC) to provide a gap analysis of our current safety planning. This includes visiting school sites and reviewing safety processes and procedures through the lens of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). At the end of the process, RSC consultants will provide recommendations on ways to enhance our continuous improvement in safety and security.
“Please see the following from Board of Education Chairman Mr. Bill Lanier:
“Unfortunately, the Board of Education meeting devolved Tuesday evening, but to conduct business, the rules of conduct must be adhered to by all Board Members. Without order, nothing can get done in a timely and efficient manner. I feel the entire Board will benefit from our upcoming Master Board Training sessions scheduled over the next few months.
“Our school board meeting is a forum for the orderly conduct of business of the district, which includes public comments of broad concern to the district and public at large. All those attending our meetings are held to a standard of conduct that allows everyone to receive information and be heard. For that to happen, order is essential. When that is not the case, it may become necessary to ask for individuals to be removed from the meeting.”
Click here to watch the full meeting by the Onslow County School Board.