Could new board make-up endanger gay students?

New Char-Meck school board members could make difference for LGBT-inclusive policies

CHARLOTTE — When the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education approved an LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policy last March, the three Republicans on the governing body were the only members to vote against the proposal. With the addition of another Republican and an upset in the once-Democratic controlled body, future policy decisions on LGBT-inclusion and safety might not be as clear-cut as they were less than one year ago.

After the 2008 general election, the Board of Education has been forced to appoint two new members to fill vacancies left by two Democrats who’ve moved on to sit on the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners.

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Republican James Ross was appointed to fill the seat once held by Democrat George Dunlap. Ross is the only African-American Republican on the board.

Democrat Kimberly Mitchell-Walker, sister of City Councilman James Mitchell, was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Democrat Vilma Leake.

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New elections for board chair and vice chair also changed the make-up of the body. Joe White, who stepped down at the end of a five-year term as chair, was replaced by Democrat Molly Griffin. Kaye McGarry, an outspoken, anti-gay Republican who pushed efforts to stop the anti-bullying policy, was elected vice chair. Griffin was one of the six board members who supported the anti-bullying policy. Former members Dunlap and Leake also supported the policy.

Questions over the future of LGBT student safety will, for now, go unanswered. By phone and email, Q-Notes attempted to contact new board members Ross and Mitchell-Walker. Neither returned our messages.

New CMS Board of Education members:

Kimberly Mitchell-Walker, Dist. 2 (Dem.)
704-398-2324
kimberlym.walker@cms.k12.nc.us

James L. Ross, II, Dist. 3 (Rep.)
704-597-5529
jamesl.ross@cms.k12.nc.us

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.