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Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board to ask former member to fill vacancy

Campaign for Racial Equity in Our Schools press conference

Judy Jones, retired science teacher, speaking at Campaign for Racial Equity in Our Schools press conference Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Chapel Hill, N.C.
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Judy Jones, retired science teacher, speaking at Campaign for Racial Equity in Our Schools press conference Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education will ask a past member to finish the term of former Chairwoman Margaret Samuels, who resigned in February.

The board agreed Thursday night to formally vote on appointing Jean Hamilton on May 2. She has served on the school board twice, from 2005-09 and from 2010-11.

The board decided on the selection process at an earlier meeting, choosing to appoint someone instead of asking people to apply.

Normally, the board would discuss filling a vacancy in public, as required by North Carolina’s open meeting law. In this case, however, the board delegated most of the selection responsibility to board Chair Joal Broun, said board member James Barrett. Broun reached out to former board members to see who would be interested, and the rest of the board was happy with the selection, Barrett said..

Broun said Hamilton is levelheaded and willing to serve.

“She is just really sound on progressive ideas, public policy and making the district work,” Broun said after Thursday’s board’s meeting. “She would help the board work more efficiently.”

Hamilton, who works as a therapist, has a master’s degree in social work from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California-Berkeley.

If she is confirmed in May, Hamilton will serve out the rest of Samuels’ term, which expires this year. District spokesman Jeff Nash said there are only seven to nine board meetings left in the term.

Samuels resigned amid a recall effort related to the board’s vote to make Glenwood Elementary School a Mandarin language magnet school.

A group of parents targeted Samuels and board members James Barrett and Pat Heinrich after the vote. They accused Barrett and Heinrich of improper communication with parents who supported the magnet school plan before the vote. They accused Samuels, who became chairwoman in January, of not upholding board policies.

The group dropped the recall effort after Samuels stepped down.

“The charges leveled at me are baseless and without foundation,” Samuels wrote in a letter released by the school system when she resigned.

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