Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools taps former member to fill board vacancy

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education unanimously voted Thursday night to appoint former board member Jean Hamilton to fill its empty seat.

“I’m honored and pleased to have the opportunity to serve,” Hamilton said after the meeting.

Hamilton has served on the board twice before, from 2005-09 and from 2010-11. Board Chair Joal Broun asked Hamilton to fill former board Chair Margaret Samuels’ position. Hamilton will be sworn in May 21 and serve until December, when Samuels’ term expires.

Broun asked Hamilton if she would be willing to be nominated, and the board confirmed her nomination last month. She is a therapist and has a master’s degree in social work from UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California-Berkeley.

Samuels resigned in March, after a recall effort targeted her and two other board members, Pat Heinrch and James Barrett. The group of parents who started the recall effort accused Barrett and Heinrich of improper communication with parents before the board voted to make Glenwood Elementary School a Mandarin language magnet school. Samuels was accused 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.

At last month’s meeting, 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.”

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Shelbi Polk reports on K-12 education in Durham and Orange Counties for the News & Observer. She attended Texas A&M University and followed the crowds to Raleigh in 2018.