Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Calls for Foust’s removal resurfaces on NHC school board and from one conservative candidate

A school board member and a candidate have resurfaced calls to fire NHCS Superintendent Charles Foust. (Port City Daily/file photo)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — One member of the New Hanover County Board of Education is renewing her calls to fire the district’s superintendent, Charles Foust.

READ MORE: Foust ‘appalled’ at proposed NHCS conduct policy, spars with board member over historical accuracy

At the board’s agenda review on Tuesday, Republican Pat Bradford asked the district’s legal counsel, Jonathan Vogel, if the body could rescind approval on an employment contract. After Vogel explained contract rights would be legally binding, Bradford then announced she would be making a motion at the February meeting to rescind the board’s approval of Foust’s contract extension. 

In August, Foust was signed on for another three years in a 6:1 vote; Bradford was among the affirming votes, despite her calls to oust the superintendent on the 2022 campaign trail. Bradford’s fellow Republican electees Josie Barnhart and Melissa Mason were also critical of Foust’s performance; the latter was the sole dissenting vote to renew his contract.

Per his contract, the board could fire Foust for a “good and just cause,” but the superintendent would also be entitled to an appeal hearing before the board. If terminated, the board would have to pay Foust the salary he would have earned for one year.

Bradford’s notification sparked indignation in board member Stephanie Kraybill.

“This is what I’m talking about. We can’t keep bringing this crap up, pulling it out of our tail ends,” Kraybill said at the agenda review. A stickler for following rules and decorum, the board member has been critical of “surprise” additions to the agenda and votes.

The discussion was then turned back to the Career Readiness Academy at Mosely, which board members are seeking a cost analysis on at the February meeting. 

Just last week, Foust announced senior staff would not continue to pursue shuttering the program due to lack of enrollment and certification opportunities for students. The move to close the program, abruptly announced to parents and the board in December, faced significant pushback from the community.

Port City Daily asked Bradford Wednesday why she had a change of heart after voting for his contract renewal, and if it was related to attempting to close Mosley, backtracking to keep it open, or something else. The outlet also asked if she stood behind having to pay Foust a year’s salary, more than $250,000, as stipulated even if the board voted to end his tenure early. 

Bradford did not answer the questions fully, but noted “I believe our school district needs new direction.” 

She is not the first person to speak out against Foust recently.

Republican school board candidate Natosha Tew — founder of the New Hanover County chapter of Moms for Liberty — also appeared on right-wing political pundit Steve Bannon’s show “War Room” this week. She discussed the Mosely closure and the district’s proposition to open a “newcomer school” for non-English speakers in the county.

Tew spurned the closure of Mosely. 

“These are special-ed kids and they require special needs, right?” Tew said. “That whole program was designed to help them, to enable them to see [and] become a productive citizen within our community.”

The Career Readiness Academy provides an individualized learning environment for attendees, but students do not necessarily have a learning disability.

Tew then referred to the newcomer school as a “refugee center,” criticizing Foust for both the Mosely closure and newcomer school.

“He has far overstepped his authority and I’m asking for his termination,” Tew said.

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