The Sandhills Files: FOIAs, Open Meetings, and Board shakeups at post-Dempsey SCC

This is all part of a continuing series offering an inside look at the goings-on at 3395 Airport Road in Pinehurst. Previous posts on this subject can be found HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Open Meetings. The Village of Pinehurst is currently caught up in a legal quagmire based on their apparent lack of respect for state Open Meetings laws.   Some local observers see Sandhills Community College heading right down that same path.

State law has strict deadlines about announcing upcoming public meetings like those of the college’s board of trustees.  A cursory search of the college’s website does not reveal any sort of meeting announcements.  Board meeting minutes sometimes include an announcement of future meetings.  Minutes for one meeting are usually not approved or posted until the next meeting – two months later. 

Minutes typically are not posted until after they are approved.  The minutes and agenda for the February meeting showed up on the website earlier THIS WEEK.

The college’s board of trustees has a habit of holding meetings at gated, private communities during work hours.

For instance, the February meeting was held at Forest Creek Golf Club.  To access the meeting site, one would have to pass through a security checkpoint. Someone has to authorize your entry past security.  Also, some people may be intimidated and discouraged by having to pass through security.

The meeting was also held at 9 am on a workday.  So, it would have been tough for someone who works for a living to attend.

Board shakeup.  The college’s board of trustees are appointed by the governor, the county commissioners, and the county board of education.  Sources on both the county board of commissioners AND the county board of education have made it clear they plan to replace — by June 1 – at least TWO current board members with people who can be described as “principled conservatives who ask questions.”

Meanwhile, the board of trustees is attempting to rush through approval of a new college president by May 1 — before the new board members can be sworn in.

FOIAs.   At least one county leader is asking questions and seeking answers about the goings-on at the college campus.   Moore County Board of Education vice-chairman David Hensley, whose board helps pick the college’s board of trustees, has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to acting college president Brenda Jackson.

The FOIA governs access to government documents by members of the public.  Here is the meat of Hensley’s request to Jackson: