Chris Lowder

Chris Lowder

The Cabarrus County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to grant Superintendent Dr. Chris Lowder emergency powers due to the closure of schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution states in part: "Under G.S.§ 115C-36, the local Board of Education has general control and supervision of all matters pertaining to the public schools.

It continues: "Under G.S. § 115C-47(15) the local Board of Education has the authority to prescribe the duties of the Superintendent. subject to G.S. § 115C-276(a); and

"Whereas the Board of Education finds that the current state of emergency requires that the Superintendent be granted greater flexibility to respond quickly and appropriately to the evolving crisis."

You can read the full resolution here.

The Board of Education originally discussed giving Lowder emergency powers at a March 15 meeting but they tabled the discussion for Monday’s session so they could get a better idea of what they were dealing with.

Lowder described an example of why this move was necessary at the Board of Education’s Monday meeting.

“We have numerous board policies that tie people to their E.O.C.’s and E.O.G.’s,” he said. “So you would just want to be able to say that I could say they don’t have to do that rather than we come up on May 15 and we start finding out different rules like, ‘Well there are 22 policies that refer to that and you guys are supposed to meet one day before graduation.’

“So I think there’s going to be lots of things that fall like that just because this is going to be so different, whether we come back in or not.”

President Donald Trump announced last week schools would not be required to do standardized tests at the end of the year.

North Carolina applied for the waiver to forego those exams this week.

Several counties in the state have granted similar powers to their superintendents.

Board member David Harrison proposed these powers be limited to the school closure which, for now, extends to at least May 15, but they decided it would remain open ended for now because they are not sure if Governor Roy Cooper would extend closures at this point in time.

“I think we need to let it be open ended,” Board Member Cindy Fertenbaugh said. “We will have the opportunity to do a virtual meeting again if we need to because if the Governor changes something or the Department of Public Instruction changes something we don’t want to hog-tie the superintendent if we have some action in process.”

If Lowder is to make any changes the School Board wanted to make sure they would be notified when practical.

The Board of Education’s legal counsel Brian Shaw said he believes the resolution states that effectively.

“The language says that the Superintendent is directed to keep the Board of Education informed of any actions taken because of emergency authority ‘as soon as is practical in light of the circumstances,’” he said. “So I think that’s pretty reasonable language that he’ll do it as soon as is practical and reasonable but that depends on facts we don’t know.”

Schools were originally closed by Gov. Cooper until March 30, but that was extended until May 15 this week.

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