NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Friday afternoon, New Hanover County Board of Education members censured member, Judy Justice for allegedly breaking state statutes.
Justice was accused of breaking two state statutes that forbid inspecting local Board of Education employees’ personnel files and revealing confidential information in those files.
Las June, five of the seven board members voted “no confidence” in Justice, who was accused of sharing confidential information, levying false allegations against Superintendent Foust, and derailing meetings with motions not discussed ahead of time.
The Board held a special meeting Friday. After a closed session, Justice was given a moment to defend herself.
“This witch hunt is personal,” Justice said. “And everyone on this dais knows it.”
Justice maintained her innocence, saying if she did violate a stature, it was unintentional. She then read a list of allegations against board members and the superintendent. The top 10 list of allegations included refusal to investigate sexual assault, back room meetings, and accusing Superintendent Charles Foust of wrongfully accusing her of workplace harassment in front of staff and board members. Justice said this led to the incident the board is censuring her for.
Justice started, “He has no evidence.”
“I can provide 275 emails of that (harassment),” Foust interrupted.
“Pardon me?,” she asked.
“I will provide emails if that’s what you want,” said Foust.
They took a brief recess with a lawyer, then other members offered closing statements.
“An action that you undertook hurt our staff,” said member, Nelson Beaulieu. “I don’t want to be doing this. I wouldn’t be doing this. You can hurt me all day long. Your actions hurt one of our staff members, and that’s all there is to it for me.”
In a vote of 5 to 2, Stephanie Walker and Justice dissenting, the Board formally censured Justice.
Justice now plans to move forward. In response to her allegation against the superintendent, she replied, “He says he has emails. All my emails ever said was for him to do his job.”
Board Chair Stephanie Kraybill said she hopes the board will be able to move forward after addressing the incident.
“We had to address it,” Kraybill said. “The community has been very critical of this board and boards before us about not being transparent. Not handling issues in a timely manner. I just said we need to jump on it and get it resolved, done, move on.”
In Justice’s final statement, she said the Board needs to hold those who are not doing their job, staff included, accountable.