Shelby, NC — From the past meetings, along with the details in the minutes, it’s evident that this particular board needs some oversight. For instance, the public would not have known that Dr. Thornburg was fined, and the fine was allowed to become a donation that would be tax-deductible. If not for the letter that former BoT Chairman Ellis Monroe submitted to the board, and others, the public would possibly have no idea about this problem. If the James G. Martin Center had not done their expose, much of the information that brought this scandal to the public would have gone without mention, simply because, the BoT would not mention it, and the local media will not print anything other than favorable coverage, unless they absolutely have to.
The Board of Trustees, as a whole, doesn’t seem to be aware of what their duties actually entail, as evidenced by the settlement that was given to former President Thornburg. Either they weren’t aware, or simply didn’t care, that they did not have the authority to spend money, that did not belong to the college. There is a manual for NC Community College Trustees. Whether Cleveland Community College has its own manual or not, is not known at this time. Listed below, in the Foreward, from the NC Trustees Manual, 3rd Edition:
There is a law, that was conceived in California, back in 1953, known as the Ralph M. Brown Act. This law assured and guaranteed the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies. Many colleges today, require the Brown Act, to be strictly adhered to, in regard to their public meetings. North Carolina has a Sunshine Law, that is similar to the Brown Act, but the NC Legislature, many times, have tried to make things more difficult for the public to obtain real information, without a lot of jumping through hoops. We’ve seen in public meetings in Cleveland County, where the boards will allow public participation speakers 3 minutes each, for a period of 15 minutes. Some say 30 minutes. And the boards acts like they should be commended for that. The board should be willing to allow however long it takes for any legal participant, to have their say.
Now, so that others may be aware of what is required of whom, the 3rd Edition Trustee Manual is embedded below.