Grier’s Gone: GCS Board playing cat-and-mouse

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. It’s not often that you’ll see me visibly angry, but yesterday was one of those times. And it was right after I picked up the latest copy of the Rhino Times and read this article on “the inside story” behind Dr. Grier’s imminent departure from GCS.

As I said earlier, the comments pouring into this Web site this week discussing Dr. Grier have been stellar and plentiful. And as of late, I share your concerns about what the GCS Board should do about releasing Grier from his GCS contract.

As it was discussed yesterday, Grier is apparently now serving a dual role as both the superintendent of schools for Guilford County and the city of San Diego. He’s still on contract with GCS. But San Diego is apparently paying him a “per diem” daily salary for any work he does for San Diego prior to his contract starting out there, which will be July 1.

Therein lies the problem. Who is he working for? Guilford County or San Diego? Who will Grier be working for tomorrow?

And then I read this well-written article yesterday by Paul Clark, the Rhino’s new education reporter…and I’m even more livid:


The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Grier Leaving Children Behind
by Paul Clark
Staff Writer

Now that will-he-or-won’t-he speculation about Guilford County School Superintendent Terry Grier is over, the Board of Education must decide when it can spare him, and negotiate an end to his employment contract, which the board last year extended to run through June 30, 2010.

The Guilford County School Board announced on Saturday that Grier will take the superintendent job in San Diego on July 1, and the San Diego Unified School District board has agreed to pay Grier a daily salary for any days he can work before that date.

The Guilford County board has not yet met to consider Grier’s exit. The board’s winter retreat this weekend will be its first meeting since Grier’s announcement.

An exit from a superintendent’s contract is usually negotiated gracefully – board member Nancy Routh calls it “something of a formality” – yet he is not an at-will employee. Board member Anita Sharpe said Grier remains under contract, but that the normal procedure is to release him. Sharpe, a veteran of the board, has been through the procedure twice with previous superintendents.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Grier’s contract is silent on how it would be terminated in the case of his resignation. It contains provisions for termination for cause and termination by the board, neither of which would apply to a resignation, according to school board attorney Jill Wilson, of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard.

The North Carolina education statute has provisions for buying out a superintendent’s contract in the case of termination by the board, but is also silent on resignation. In some cases, boards deal with resignations by simply not enforcing the contract, Wilson said.

The San Diego board could stick with its offer of a daily salary for any work Grier does before July 1, Wilson said. It could also negotiate an interim contract if he leaves Guilford County well before July 1, she said.

“What if he showed up Feb. 1?” Wilson said. “They might go for an interim contract.”


Stop the tape. There’s mistake number one…how his contract was written when he came on board. NOTICE TO GCS BOARD (and potential new Board members…and paid-by-the-hour attorney Jill Wilson): when you negotiate the new superintendent’s contract, make sure there are provisions in the new contract so something like this doesn’t happen again.



Grier has not yet given school board members an indication of when he will leave, and the board has not yet contacted Wilson for advice about the contract.

“In no event has he said, ‘I’m not going to be here in the next month,’ so in no way is there an imminent need,” Wilson said.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Board member Garth Hebert said the board, in its Dec. 10 closed session to consider Grier’s possible exit for San Diego, took a “straw poll” and agreed to offer him a contract extension and an increase in compensation in effort to get him to stay. “This was conveyed to Terry by the board, and Terry still chose to leave,” Hebert said.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. No other board members would confirm Hebert’s statement. Sharpe said it did not happen. “I have no recall of this board offering him one penny more to stay here,” she said.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Board member Walter Childs said he remembered no such discussion, and Routh said she does not, as a matter of policy, discuss personnel actions taken in closed session.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Board member Amos Quick said he does not remember any such discussion clearly, and that, in any case, no formal offer was conveyed to Grier. “If it was a straw poll, that’s all it was,” he said.

Hebert acknowledged that he arrived at the meeting late, and said the action was described to him as having happened before his arrival.

********************************** By now folks, my blood pressure is reaching 300. Our school board has the gall to play cat-and-mouse with your children and it is disgusting. I was hot when I read this!

I said back on December 12 that if Grier is offered the job, and if the GCS Board is smart (which now we know they’re not), they should not make any attempt to keep him. Let him go. Offer him no more money; offer him no more contract extensions…that’s it. Just let him go.

Obviously, that went in one ear and out the other, if this report in the Rhino is correct. I’m so angry right now, I can spit fire.

Of course, no one will go on record in admitting that such a straw-poll took place. But this report wasn’t made-up, this is too detailed.

There are at least four GCS Board members who read this blog regularly. I hope you’re sensing my anger, and the anger of these citizens.



Grier’s acceptance of the San Diego job, despite “significant” pay raises and contract extensions, should be considered a violation of his contract, Hebert argued.

“Evidently that’s not enough,” Hebert said. “I believe he has an obligation to stick it out, but he’s chosen not to.” Nonetheless, the board should not encourage Grier to linger, he said.

The timing of Grier’s exit may depend largely on whether the board views Grier as an asset out of which they need to get the most value before July 1, or as a lame duck, whose attention is already on the challenges of San Diego.

“If we have to deal with the change, we deal with it now,” Hebert said. “Don’t fool around. His mind and his heart will no longer be there.”

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Board member Darlene Garrett said she feels the same way. “I think his mind and his heart are elsewhere,” she said. Other board members said they have not yet made up their minds on the issue.


Stop the tape…I’ve been saying all week that I’m also livid that this was NOT an agenda item for tomorrow’s Board retreat.

But now, in a “revised” agenda, I see where a closed session is now scheduled for close to 7pm tomorrow evening. Maybe it will be discussed in that closed session…I hope it will be. And I hope it is discussed in open session at the Jan. 31 Board meeting (even though it is not on the current agenda).

Darlene and Garth are correct…this MUST be dealt with, in an open session, with politics put aside. Why haven’t the other Board members made up their minds?

Every single Board member should be on notice…they should in open session express their on-the-record feelings and sentiments on what to do about Grier’s remaining time here and what their alleged “straw-poll” vote was (I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall that night).

Separately, I feel the six GCS board members who are up for reelection should immediately and publicly declare their intentions as to whether they will seek reelection or not. The public has the right to know what kind of Board we will be dealing with in terms of this search going forward. Let’s not wait until two weeks from Monday (Feb. 11–when the ballot filing period starts) for announcements to come. It’s only fair.


Last excerpt:

Aside from Hebert, who describes himself as “Terry’s greatest critic,” Grier generally drew plaudits from the board for his eight-year tenure. Childs cited Grier’s work on the early- and middle college programs and his “amazing” work with the community.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. “Although a lot of people didn’t like him, I think he was innovative and did a lot for the system,” Childs said.

Grier was recently named North Carolina’s superintendent of the year for 2007.

Grier, in a press release, cited lowering the district’s dropout rate, increasing its graduation rate and increasing scholarships offered to graduating seniors as proud achievements.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Except for the press release, Grier isn’t talking about his upcoming move. At a press conference Tuesday to discuss the district’s winter school-cancellation policy, Sonya Conway, the schools’ executive director for district relations, warned reporters not to bother asking Grier questions about his departure.

Sources familiar with the San Diego schools said that district will want Grier as quickly as possible. Its acting superintendent since Jan. 1, William Kowba, is also chief financial officer and acting chief administrative officer, and will continue to wear all three hats until Grier’s arrival. The previous superintendent, Carl Cohn, resigned at year’s end after a two-year tenure.

Grier, during his visit to San Diego, appeared to be already actively working and planning with San Diego school officials, sources there said.


Childs’ cheerleading for Grier thankfully, is coming to an end…which hopefully will also lead to the end of Childs’ term.

And what’s up with Sonya Conway’s threat: Sonya Conway, the schools’ executive director for district relations, warned reporters not to bother asking Grier questions about his departure.

Or else…what? Is this some sort of thinly-veiled threat?

These are the people in charge of running your schools. These are the people in charge of setting policy for your child’s (and my child’s) schools.

In my opinion, I don’t want any of these clowns having anything to do with my daughter’s education. It’s frightening. This award-winning article is truly frightening. And it should be a pure wake-up call for all of us to get involved.

Stellar work, as usual, from Paul Clark and the Rhino; you won’t get this kind of stuff in our local drive-by media.

As our friend “Stormy” said here last night, let’s give Garth and Darlene a pass to see if they can wrestle control. But like Stormy, I currently have no faith in the others to do the right thing. Even Amos. Prove me wrong, if so.

E.C. 🙂


2 Responses

  1. Monthly tuition at Private School: ~$500.00

    10 trips back and forth each week: ~$50.00

    Yearly book/supply fee: ~$300

    Not having to put up with Guilford County Schools:


  2. Been Grier Ended… yep and that’s exactly what they want you to do if you plan to rock the boat. Pull your children, continue to pay taxes and by all means shut up.

    GCS needs to pay for your child’s private education inasmuch as they put her in danger.

    For every student who’s parents have the money to pull their kids, there are 10 more who can’t afford it and either have to pull them and get them a GED or just let their lives fall apart.

    Don’t let that worm get by with that.

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